Tuesday, August 14, 2018

And after lunch

* Despite a somewhat-upset stomach (it happens to me when I'm stressed), I came home, fixed a cup of tea, ate a little fruit and a piece of bread and some cheese so I guess I'm OK for the rest of the day.

* A few people counseled me to call up the offending office and scream at them until they undo the things but this is how some people don't know me very well: it would be harder and more stressful to me to get that angry with another human being than it is for me to just grumble and change the things myself.

But:

- Both the local AAUP chapter and the Faculty Senate are going to try to deal with the issue of "office overreach" and hopefully they do something

- This tells me for NEXT semester I just copy the previous semester's/year's class I had (set up the way I wanted it) instead of asking for a "new 'blank' course" because the new course won't be "blank." And I'll make a point to say "Don't use the 16-weekly-format because that doesn't work with how I teach" and see what they say.

* But yeah. I'm telling myself I will be happier once I walk into the classroom and start actually doing what is my job: teaching. It's dealing with some of the campus offices that is soul-sucking and discouraging because there are people in them who think I don't know what I want, and they think they know better than I do.

* Bell choir is tonight and I think I need it. I hope Mike is there and is up for a hug because I need that too.

* And yeah, I guess God has a sense of humor about things - I had been waiting and watching for my "birb quilt" to be done, and it was never done (I think it took longer than the 10 weeks quoted, but whatever. I asked for more complex work on it). I came home at lunch to a message from the place - it's done, ready to pick up.

So, even though I wasted my entire morning fighting BlackBoard (and other things: reassuring my student about the "certificate" thing, asking about a hinky-looking e-mail that did, indeed, turn out to be a phishing attempt that might be JUST sophisticated enough to trap a few people on campus), I am going out this afternoon to pick it up.

I'm telling myself "this is the treat you said you needed but didn't feel like there was anything in town that would serve"

I should also deposit the check from the church. I admit I've been slow to do this because (a) part of me feels like I shouldn't take their money but (b) part of me also wonders if people would feel hurt if I DIDN'T accept it, based on what they said when Del refused the checks....it's hard being a person some times, especially if you care about other people's feelings. I suppose the answer is they wouldn't have sent it to me if they didn't want me to have it, and they know I always throw in when money is needed for a disaster-relief offering, or when the choir fund runs a little short, or whatever.

Rage and despair.

This again, but only this time I am Gordon Ramsey, and the other individual is BlackBoard:

I'm also angry with our campus-instructional-tech.

They set up BlackBoard pages for everyone. They turned them on for the students to see WITHOUT US KNOWING THEY HAD. (in the past, we had to do it. Some people forgot, so I suppose that's why they did it, but I didn't forget - in fact, it allowed me to fix and tweak everything and THEN make the page live)

The bigger thing? They decided to force-fit all the classes into the format that the online classes use, with 'adaptive releases' where stuff rolls out every single week. If, like me, you teach upper-division classes where topics are longer, and may stretch over several weeks, this DOES NOT WORK.

but they did it ANYWAY.

And so, I am having to go through and delete all the junk they larded the pages up with. And there's no way I can find to batch-delete, so I am having to click on "delete" for each week, and then click "OK" when BlackBoard - in the way of every program - asks me if I REALLY want to do that. Then I have to wait a few moments while it decides to do that, and then I have to do it again.

I have had five classes to do that for, because one of my classes has a graduate-level section (though it is the same class, just extra work for the grad student, but I realized he would be unable to see stuff in the undergrad section, so I'm going to have to have a Bb page for just one person..)

It makes me ragey. I should not have had to do that. The campus-instructional-tech, in the past year, has felt empowered (I am SURE this is because of our collaboration with a Parnership that does Academics - where they get part of the tuition in return for, I don't know, marketing or something) to do stuff without consulting or even telling the faculty.

And then, I happened to click on the "faculty guide" and it contained some deeply patronizing language that basically sounded like it was assumed I didn't know how to do the job that I happen to have been doing for close on 20 years.....and you know how I said my feelings didn't get hurt easily?

Wrong. They're hurt now. Once again I feel powerless and disrespected. I complained to my chair about things and she agreed, there's a clear over-reach, but there's nothing she can do. And it does feel very much like those of us who teach face-to-face are being told "YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED" and that we are hurtling towards being like Flim And Flam's University of Friendship, and I don't like that.

I did cycle fairly quickly from despair ("Nobody respects me, everyone thinks I'm an idiot, everything is going to Hell") to rage ("Well, dangit. They can't tell me I can't CHANGE the pages. I still have academic freedom on some level") and I have spent the past hour deleting all the junk and setting them up the way I want.

But that's an hour I shouldn't have spent.

And I realized why my research student was stressing about the training certificate: that's another things that's been added to every page, even for the pure face-to-face courses. So I e-mailed her back saying "If this is why you're concerned, don't be, you don't need it for my class" but holy HECK, someone could have TOLD THE FACULTY THAT UP FRONT and saved all the trouble.

And if they change my blackboard pages back without my permission (stranger things have happened), I JUST WON'T USE THEM.

I will rebel and set up, I don't know, a Dropbox or a Blogspot or some damn page for each class, and post my handouts and stuff there. And keep a paper gradebook and just tell the students they have to come see me to get their grades, or they can go complain to the campus tech and tell them to stop altering the faculty's work.

But yeah. This is inefficiency at its worst: making faculty undo things they didn't ask for in the first place and were just given.

So damn much lip service is paid to "academic efficiency" but it really only means something when it saves money or is literally ANYTHING other than faculty not having to spend extra time on stuff.

As I said on Twitter: Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be professors. I would not counsel ANYONE to go into ANY KIND of education now, unless they were doing something like small private high-school teaching where they had a high degree of freedom and there was no threat of it going online.
************

I feel stupid, too, that I'm this hurt by all of this (especially the patronizing "guide to instructors"). I know I should "be the bigger person" (The problem with "being the bigger person" all the time though, is if you're like me and are the kind of person who east your feelings? Then you LITERALLY become the "bigger person").

I'm just....part of this is it feels a lot of the time like my career is ALL I have, and if things are going badly at it, things are all bad. I don't have a kid, I don't have a spouse, I don't even have a pet. My hobbies, I have been "told" enough times how insignificant they are that I come to believe it....so I feel like, if higher ed is circling the drain, I chose unwisely.....And I don't know what to do.

I'm now tired and sad and I feel like I want some kind of a treat but there's nothing I can think of that would help. 

And I feel like no one really understands: I tell my parents about this and they think I'm either being alarmist, or that I'm not good at rolling with the punches, or whatever.

It's just....I would like not to be disrespected by people in offices, especially people who haven't really been in the classroom (and so, don't know how it is) and who also make more money than I do.

I dunno. I almost put my head down on the desk and cried but instead I managed to power through and delete all the crap I had to delete, and I really hope they don't go back and put it back in under the grounds of "it has to be there" because I don't have the energy to fix things again.

But yeah. This is a very bad way to feel for going back to school. I'm sad and discouraged and defeated and would like to quit already, except I don't know how I'd find work without having to move house, and I don't want to move.

Not good morning

This is how I feel (not Gordon Ramsey, the woman he is berating):

(And I would have *sworn* I saw a ponified version of that somewhere, but Know Your Meme turns nothing up, and I am unwilling to wade into the deeps of Google Image Search because when you search ANYTHING ponified, even with safe-search....well, after the first page or so of results, Then There Be Monsters)

But yeah. I came in to a message from my new grad student: hey, what am I supposed to do about this new online training they're saying we have to do?

and I am like, "what online training" (well, not quite: I saw a sign advertising it when I went to pick up an interlibrary loan book at the library yesterday). I don't know anything about it. Her big concern was "How do I get this to work from home, I can't do it on my Mac"

So I said, "I'll e-mail the person in charge and find out" but I'm fully expecting to get an e-mail back from them asking "How can you not know that?" even though I checked my CMS page and I checked all my archived e-mails and found NOTHING referring to the program.

So either:

1. We are being purposely kept in the dark about this (seems unlikely)
2. Someone forgot to tell us about it (this seems very likely)
3. Someone forgot that some of us still teach exclusively face-to-face and would not have experienced learning about it in the course of prepping for online classes in the fall (which also seems likely, and raises my fears that those of us few dinosaurs who still would rather not teach online are going to become second-class citizens. Well, hell, you can take my red stapler and move my desk to the sub-basement, but I've got 10 years until retirement and I sure as hell am hanging on if at all possible)

So I don't know. I feel bad I couldn't do more for the student than "ummm let me check" but, whatever.

Tomorrow starts the round of meetings. Tomorrow: meet and greet and eat pastries at 8 am, talks run from 8:30 to noon. Thursday we have stuff from 10 am until 2 pm or so. Friday is departmental meeting, I think at 9? But two of those days the most productive chunk of the day is spent sitting in meetings. At least it looks like we're not being subjected to the active-shooter demo this year; I've been through that, I think, three years running (maybe 4) and it's not that helpful - it's kind of traumatizing and also, when faculty raise the issue of "but we can't lock our doors from inside the classroom" the state trooper who is hired to speak to us goes "Hmmm that's a problem" and proposes a solution that would cost $10 a classroom but which has yet to be implemented, and I feel like: going through "training" for a vanishingly unlikely event where the simple thing that could be done to help prevent it won't be invested in - why make your faculty have nightmares? Maybe someone figured that out this year.

But yeah. I am in one of those moods where everything bothers me, because I feel like:

1. The things I am good at are literally worthless in what the world has become - if my university were to close* I'm not sure how I could keep body and soul together, and I don't think I've saved up enough money in my retirement fund to glide through the rest of my life that way.

(This was precipitated by some discussion elsewhere of vocabulary levels and the idea that those of us with bigger vocabularies will eventually be pressured not to use so many high-falutin' words (like, ever) lest we make others feel bad. One of my few claims-to-fame, such as it is, is having a big vocabulary - I read a lot, I remember what I've read, and I was a spelling bee geek back in the day so I learned things like Latin and Greek word roots. I can also make stuff, but seeing the agony that some artists have written about on Twitter and elsewhere, about either being asked to work 'for exposure' or do commissions for less than what the supplies cost. And you have to be an eternal salesperson, which I can't do. And I can teach, but yeah, you see how much THAT is valued in what passes for the "real world" these days)

2. What IS valued right now seems to be a lack of compassion, "sharp elbows," and a willingness to bend the rules to suit yourself, and not only are those things I can't do, they're things I don't want to do.

So I'm kinda doomed, it feels like.


(*a former state governor is floating the idea of "consolidation" of the regionals, and I don't want to see us in a Battle Royale with the school up the road an hour from us, 'cos if it's "Two ecologists enter, one leaves," I will be, by virtue of fewer meaningful publications and grants, be the one looking for new employment, and I am quite sure under a "consolidation" event, that "but I had tenure and seniority" will count for dogspit, I will be thrown out onto the job-seeking front with no backup)


So yeah. I don't know. This is my last day of Summer and I'm not happy. I'd love to get an e-mail back from the person in the tech office saying "My bad, we should have let faculty know, here's the solution" but I am not expecting that to happen.

But yeah. I am not feeling especially competent today and that's not a good feeling less than a week before classes start.


****

Well, maybe I'm not as dumb as I look. I received an e-mail this morning that made me suspicious for three reasons:

First, it purported (in the body of the e-mail) to be from our uni president, but the "by line" in the header was someone else somewhere else

Second, it had an attached "secured" .pdf (did not open! Danger, Will Robinson!)

Third, our university president is an attorney and has a good command of the English language and with faculty he also has a tendency not to use more words than necessary to get his point across, and here's the text of the e-mail:




Dear Colleagues:

Our aim is to provide guidance and align our behaviors as we make great decisions that impact our daily operations. we rely on our values and this code as guidelines, as a breach of the Policy may result in disciplinary action against the Employee concerned.
all individuals on full-time or part-time employment with the Institution are required to go through the guidelines attached in this email. It is important that we all adhere to these guidelines so you will be helping to ensure a future success of this great institution

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to delivering a better and reliable service."


 I forwarded it to the IT guy with an "I may be being overly cautious but...." and he e-mailed back "It's phishing" (I presume the "secure .pdf" was to be filled in with personal info) "Delete it and I am going to try to recall it out of the other mailboxes."


We have people who tend to fall for that kind of thing...we had someone lose their hard-drive contents to a Cryptolocker scheme this spring) So maybe I'm not such an "idiot sandwich" after all. But yeah. Vague threats plus the university president's name made me ALMOST fall for it.

Monday, August 13, 2018

And Monday morning

Hard to get moving, because it's pouring down rain and I think I left my umbrella in the car. Also not-great news of the outside world, both locally (if you know where I live, you might know of the latest idiocy on the part of some parents in a district in the region, and the fact apparently the parents are the big bullies here is distressing) and globally.

But one thing I can manage: spa days for my Ponies.

Yesterday afternoon I was looking at two of them, Whizzer (a twinkle-eye pony) and Tip-Toes (one of the ballerina ponies). The hair on these sometimes gets kind of dry and frizzy (which I guess you have to expect for a 30+ year old toy), though it's interesting that some ponies have the issue and others don't. (Was it overbrushing by an earlier child-owner? The climate in which the pony was stored? The batch of nylon or whatever the hair is made of?)

I had heard of some people using fabric softener, but I didn't have any, but I did have some deep conditioner, so I decided to try it. (Unfortunately, I didn't think to take before photos - but Whizzer's hair was really bad, frizzy and also flyaway. Tip-Toes' was mostly just dry at the ends).

I *carefully* (so as not to get water inside them, or to loosen the glue holding Whizzer's "jewel" eyes in) wet down the hair, put a lot of the conditioner on it (and the tail), let it sit, and used a wide-toothed comb to comb through.

Then, I rinsed it out well, combed it gently again, and wrapped the tail around one back leg and wrapped the mane around the neck (this is kind of standard in pony renovation) and used hair-ties I had not used yet on my own hair (so there was no hair oil on them) to hold it down while it dried.

I took them off this morning. To my surprise* there was some improvement. I think it was greater on Tip-Toes. Her hair is a lot silkier and it seems like some of the original curl came back:

ballet pony

But even Whizzer looks better. At least, her hair lies flatter. Her tail is still frizzed at the ends, but it's better than it was:

whizzer

At least her hair doesn't stick up any more. (Her forelock does, but I can't do much with that).

And yes, when I bought these I knew the hair was imperfect.

(*The hair on these is some kind of nylon or Saran-like material - so made out of petroleum products, so, I guess you would say, it's a lipid-based fiber, unlike the protein fiber that our hair - or things like wool - are. You can wash wool and use conditioner on it to improve its texture (and I often do) but I figured it might have little effect on the artificial hair)

And yeah, it may be a bit of crouton-petting, but there is something kind of satisfying about fixing the hair on these. (Maybe, maybe, yes: there IS something to the "brushable" ponies. I never cared about that kind of thing when I was a kid, but then I was a pretty active kid and stopping to comb a toy's hair would not have appealed to me - heck, I would barely sit still as a kid for my mom to comb MY hair - when I was very small I had long hair, as long or longer than I have now, and it was even thicker than it is now, so it took forever to comb out). But I do find, as a jangled adult, there is something nice about being able to gently comb out the hair (and the G3s, it seems, have nicer hair, or maybe it's that they're a bit more recent and are less worn, but used a less-cheap fiber than the G4s do). And even the whole "spa day" thing is kind of fun. (And now I am casting an eye over the other Ponies I have, to see if any other ones need their hair worked on....)


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Summer is ending

Next week is the Week of Meetings (well, starting Wednesday) and I have decided that I HAVE to get back into the schedule of getting up around 5 am for my workout, so I have time to wash and dress and eat and pack a lunch and all that stuff before going over to work at 7 or 7:30.

I am a morning person but I confess 4:30 (which is really the ideal time to give me enough time for everything) or 5 is still awfully early; I have been getting up most days this summer around 6 or 6:30 and going in around 9, but I can't do that during the school year.

So it's back to early-bed. which is Not Great during Daylight Saving, because it's still fairly light out even at 9 pm, and ideally I'm in bed by 8:30 to allow enough time to read/do the necessary brain shut-down for the night. And yeah, I think of this:

"In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?"

(RL Stevenson, "Bed in Summer")

Not that I don't WANT to go to bed....well, I kind of don't want to because many days I don't have that much time in the evenings to do "fun" things once I've done the "necessary" things like cooking dinner....

But yeah. I mean, yeah, it's nice to get back to a routine, and to feel useful, and to get paid again, but I also admit I will kind of miss setting my own schedule.

I think I'm going to go ahead and promise myself that I can spend this coming Saturday either knitting and watching movies, or starting on a new quilt top....A person needs something to get themselves through the week some times.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

And a success

This is a close-up, was actually an unintentional shot because the camera fired when I meant to put it on timer, but you can see they're done:

pony shorts 2

I like that they aren't as wide-legged as they looked in the pattern pieces. They fit pretty well and the crocheted drawstring seems like a good solution.

A couple things I learned:

- I don't love working with flannel. I forgot how stretchy/unstable it can be and I was remembering how awfully it frays, though I used French seams on these, so there are no exposed raw edges.

- The buttonhole foot with my machine works very well and is easy to use. I don't think I ever used it before - I remember the one dress I sewed on it here that required buttonholes, I took up to my parents' house with me and did them on my mom's machine. Well, maybe I remember that I can do buttonholes easily now. (There are tiny buttonholes for the drawstring).

I mmmmmmmight make another pair of these - either I could use a heavier-weight cotton (I have some in my quilt fabrics and these only take about a yard and a half) or, if I wanted, I could get either some plissé the next time I am at JoAnn's, or even another flannel (they had a Wonder Woman flannel which might be fun, and I could always BUY a drawstring like they sell for hoodies - or get another skein of bulky acrylic and just crochet another one).

Here's a better shot, and it's a rare photo of me that I look at it and go, "Gee, I don't look as fat as I think I am":

pony shorts 3

I'm also wearing the tank top from the Sanrio Loot Crate and as I suspected - I wouldn't be able to wear it as-is out in public because I have VBS. I could put it on over a white t-shirt though.

problem solving time

So, I got the shorts all cut out. Sewed up the drawstring (there is an elastic but also a drawstring, I presume to adjust fit.

I tried to turn the drawstring. I forgot how much I HATE dealing with narrow seam allowances. The drawstring is long, and skinny, and turning makes it bunch up. (And I forgot to do the trick of sewing a piece of yarn in there that you can grab and pull to try to turn it, but I'm not sure that would have helped here.)

I used the blunt end of a large knitting needle to work it for a ways. Then the end punched through a bit of the fabric.

"Okay," I said, gritting my teeth. "I'll sew that up when I sew up the opening."

Then it got stuck worse and tore worse. Many bad words were said.

Finally, the end just ripped off. I COULD have used the few scraps I had and made a new one, or....then I thought, back to what my mom used to do when we lost drawstrings out of hoodies and the like....

I knew I didn't want to knit i-cord (one option) FOREVER (because that's what it would take and i-cord is SUPER boring), so here I am: fat acrylic yarn, size H hook, am just going to make a big old chain and hope it works:

If that's uncomfortable in the shorts, or if it doesn't hold well, whatever, maybe next time I'm at JoAnn's I can see if they have the proper sort of drawstring like you put in a hoodie, but argh: one minor initial step should not take longer than the rest of the project.

I wish I felt more about these kinds of things like "I found a clever solution" than "Ugh, this is an awful kludge because I couldn't do it the RIGHT way," but that's life when you're a perfectionist.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Got some stuff

Yeah, I made some purchases today. I probably need to go to "no frivolous shopping" for a while to let my bank account build back up (also so I can do the "shunt money into savings to hide it from myself, so I have funds for future appliance replacement or even car replacement")

But it was fun, and it was good. Whitesboro had some Surprise! Construction! going on on the main drag (aka the only drag) and one side of the divided road was closed off, but a detour was posted and I managed to find parking, so it was all good. (It looked like they were replacing the cement divider between the two lanes - it's a divided street with one side westbound and the other eastbound).

First up was Quixotic Fibers. They ARE being part of the Dallas Yarn Crawl next week and the owner asked me if I was going but (a) I don't do well in big crowds (and city driving, yuck - I would not be going to Dallas unless I had someone to drive me) and (b) Next weekend is going to be recovery-from-all-the-meetings/ get mentally and emotionally prepared for the semester to start, so.

I did buy some yarn:

new yarn

Originally the pale yarn was bought for one of the shawls in This Thing of Paper but I see the shawls there are designed for 870 yards of yarn and I only have 800, and I have HAD IT with running short of yarn for shawls, so either I will look around on Ravelry and see if those are actually overestimates (based on others' projects) or I will simply find another shawl that requires less than 800 yards to complete and make that. I have enough in my pattern library.

(Edited to add: yeah, looking on Ravelry - I think I'm better off picking a different shawl pattern. Maybe some time in the future I can find a lower-priced yarn - this was Smooshy with Cashmere - that I can buy 1000 or so yards of so I am sure I have enough). 

I also recently added Erica Lueder's Soccer Mitts (free! on Ravelry) to my library, and I thought I wanted a stripy yarn for them....but the more I look at that orange and red and green stripey, the more I want socks of it instead. And the other yarn knits up to a fake Fair Isle pattern, and I kind of want to make a hat out of it.....(I have copious amounts of stripey yarn, I am sure I can find one to make the Soccer Mitts of. I have many unused/currently unloved striping yarns in my stash, I should dig one out I won't make into socks and repurpose it into mitts. I even have some of the String Theory yarns that have a little cashmere in them and they would make extra-nice mitts.)

I also went to Kaleidoscope Quilts. I had got a new book called something like "Charm School," which is all patterns for the 5" charm packs (but they also tell you how many fat quarters it would take for the same quilt - though you would have less fabric diversity then).

I wanted to make one of the simple quilts in there - three charm packs, 4 yards of fabric, and a yard of a focus fabric. I found the charm packs I wanted (a cute whimsical fabric line) and some pink fabric for the background. And I dug around in my stash and was excited to find a yard of a fabric that, while it has a different "feel" slightly (it is somewhat William Morris-inspired), I think the colors work and the spirit works.

soon-to-be quilt top

And it will be nice to use a fabric I really liked in bigger pieces as a focus fabric in a quilt. (This may be my next top, even though I have some cute-animal fabrics hanging around for a quilt I want to make. This one will be simple, though. I do think I'll pre-wash the pink (even though the 5" squares don't get prewashed) as the focus fabric was pre-washed.

Also, I can do it with this:

Pony pajamas!

I stopped at the JoAnn's, too. I had seen this Pony flannel earlier and liked it, but couldn't easily think of a project. Then I realized that the flannel pajama pants (really, flannel men's boxers - they do have the tell tale front gap) I was wearing were getting kind of worn and should be replaced.

So, of course. I can make a pair of shorts in an hour or less once they're cut out. So of course, this is the project for the Pony flannel - that's a yard and a half there, a bit more than what the pattern calls for but I also know flannel can really shrink when pre-washed, so.

I think I am going to French-seam these; it's not that hard to do with simple shorts, and flannel frays badly especially in things like pajamas, and frankly, I'd rather French seam than zig-zag the raw edges (I don't own a serger and don't particularly want one).

If these turn out well I may grab some other fun flannel (I think they had a Wonder Woman print) the next time I'm down that way and make myself another pair.

I also did buy a couple fat quarters at the quilt shop, destined to be Barbie clothes:

Future Barbie clothes


The blue is from that "Grunge" line of fabrics and I thought it was a close enough mimic of denim that it would be good for a "denim" skirt using the a-line skirt pattern I found online (and there should be plenty of it; the pattern is really small. Maybe I could make a second, more dirndl-shaped skirt that is fuller with what's left....) The bandanna print will be a dress; I have a pattern for a simple "curvy tailored" dress that would fit Cinnamon, or there is a more complicated halter-type dress that was drafted off of a vintage 70s Barbie pattern...it's a little more orange than I thought when I saw it in the store but it will still be fine.

And finally - from the antique stores I visited, some cookbooks:

new-old cookbooks

The one on the left is one of those "compilation books" - this one from a bed and breakfast in the area (despite the name, it is a bed and breakfast). It's fairly recent.

The other two are older. Each was $2, which is a really good price. They're not in tip-top condition, but for a cookbook I will actually USE, that's less important. And I was excited to find one of the last (if not THE last) of the Farm Journal cookbooks I didn't have - the Pie Book. (And it also has some savory pies, which might make some interesting winter cooking. I've made "pies" that fundamentally had the same filling as a pasty (the Cornish meat pie) and those are good, and are simpler than doing it hand-pie style. I just like looking at older cookbooks, anyway.

I also ran to the Kroger's for food. In the coming week or so:

- homemade pizza (again, but I like it)
- chili (yes, again, but also, I like it)
- maybe spaghetti marinara (got more spaghetti and a can of the good Cento tomatoes for sauce, so that can wait a while)
- the makings for bean patties, but instead of black beans, I'm going to try garbanzos and change up the seasoning and see if I can make something like mock falafel - I will have to look up what the traditional seasonings are, I seem to remember parsley and maybe onion but there's probably other stuff. I love the black-bean patties I make and I want to try changing it up with different beans and different flavors - I have a can of cannellini beans I should use soon and I could use Italian spices in those and serve them with tomato sauce....

And I found Lyle's Golden Syrup.





I use this all the time, but it's *very* hard to find here (the natural-foods store carried it for a while and dropped it, Kroger's carried it briefly a long time back but hadn't had it).

I like this as the sweetener in my tea - it dissolves better than sugar and it feels like I can use less of it. And I have a few British recipes that call for it that I've been wanting to make, but I was really shepherding my supply because I didn't want to run out - I had bought some at the Meijer's when I was up at my parents', but to mail order it, it's almost twice what it is in a grocery.

So I bought three bottles, and I might consider making one of those cakes I have a recipe for that calls for it. (It's also good on oatmeal. )

I hope the Kroger's continues to have it.

AND they had the little sweet-potato puffs I like, so I bought another bag, on the grounds that "they keep fine in the freezer, and you never know if the wal-mart will still have them if you go back for more"

The vintage dresses

There were several - one was a package of four (well, one of the dresses may be a v. long skirt, it's hard to tell - no shaping and whatever was used to hold it up at the neck is gone). The other package had a little wool coat, and a pair of slacks that MIGHT actually have been for Ken, and a gauzy blouse, and a pair of tiny slides, that I thought "there's no way they will fit a modern Barbie" but they do and they're really kind of cute, so some day I may put them on the Gabby Douglas doll with something.

I decided to try the dresses on Olivia, and you know? I like her in these better than in the modern clothes. Maybe her "look" requires more tailored things?

vintage Barbie dress mini

I THINK this is a homemade/handmade dress but it had those big heavy "set in with a tool" snaps on the back. I don't know. I think my mom had some of those gripper snaps when I was a kid and she used them on outfits for my little brother. Anyway, I like this style - with waist shaping - better on her.

And I *really* love this maxi dress on her. Partly for the 70s-style print, partly for the design. I admit it: I kind of like maxidresses even though I know they'd make me look kind of dumpy because I'm not that tall and my legs aren't super-long (and I'm heavy. I think maxidresses are a better style for very tall and rather slim women. Princess-lines and knee-length skirts are probably a better look for me)

But yeah:

vintage barbie dress maxi

I liked the pink on her, but I think I'm going to leave her in this for a little while. And I think this inspires me to try my hand at making some clothes because (a) I can pick colors and prints that will actually work with her complexion (I think most of the commercial Barbie clothes are for the pale blonde Barbie and colors are chosen with that in mind) and (b) I can make them more detailed/more fitted, and again, somehow, Olivia's "look" seems to say to me "I am a woman* who appreciates clothes that aren't dumpy on me"

(*Okay, "doll," whatever)

It's funny - Gabby, because she looks to me like a high schooler, looks cute in almost anything. Cinnamon strikes me as someone who is a little more "outre" in her style, and who isn't afraid of maybe looking a little tacky (I put a halter top on her the other day and it worked...). Samantha seems to suit casual but floral clothes - I still have her in the dress I photoed her in the other day, and I think pastels work for her. But I think Olivia is maybe more fashionable? (Or, more fashionable-as-if-it-were-1977) and needs stronger colors and more tailoring....

And yeah, I admit, I like having my own little Project Runway thing going for my Barbie dolls. Don't judge me...

Thursday, August 09, 2018

The weekend begins

I feel much better tonight than I did on Monday.

And I had a big, big surprise this afternoon. I had gone earlier and dropped off a check to contribute to the scholarship fund for our slain student. It wasn't a LOT of money, but it was something, and it was what I felt I could comfortably give at that point.

Came home, cleaned the house a little (which also contributes to me feeling happier), had my piano lesson (it went well) and then I went to look at the mail.

I had known my new Interweave Knits came and I was looking forward to looking at that, and I saw that the little packet of vintage Barbie clothes had come, and was looking forward to opening that up after dinner.

I had not seen a large envelope from church. When I looked at the mail just now, I thought, "Nice, they sent me a thank you card for doing the devotional a couple Sundays ago."

Nope, not just a card (though there was a nice card). There was a card and A CHECK.

They have a standard pay schedule for people doing "guest preaching" (I know, because I have been on the board for years and we have discussed what is appropriate when we invite a minister from another church). But I didn't expect a check because I'm not ordained, so I'm not really official....I know the other guy who does "emergency fill-in" gets sent checks but he is ordained (sort-of). (I also know he usually returns the money, so....that raises a bit of an ethical dilemma for me. I will have to think on it. Maybe I donate at least part of it to the music-scholarship fund... )

But yeah. I mean, I'm doing OK, financially - I can afford the trip tomorrow without worrying so it's more a "vote of confidence" than anything. (Though I also know the other guy returning the checks uncashed causes some consternation for the financial secretary, so....maybe I do deposit this and then just find a couple little ways to give at least some of it back).

But....yeah, once again I am taking it as a "that thing you did, that donation, was the right thing to do at the right time."

So anyway. I have a couple magazines to look at tonight (the Victoria came yesterday and I didn't have time to look at it). And I have plans for tomorrow:

- Whitesboro, go to Quixotic Fibers (which is on "summer hours" and has been closing at 2 pm so I will go there FIRST THING) and the quilt shop and maybe grab lunch at Lovejoy's, and maybe look at the antique shops there. Then run back to Sherman, go to JoAnn's for fun, maybe go to the yarn shop in Sherman (two yarn shops in one day! That is quite a thing.) And then go to the grocery store and stock up on food for the coming week.

And Saturday: either I'm going to work on the Augusta cardigan or start a new quilt top, I don't know which. And Sunday after church I am going to do more knitting or quilting, seeing as this is the "last hurrah" of summer, next week is my Week of Meetings. And then after that, classes start...

Thursday morning things

* The scholarship for our murdered student is FINALLY up and running. My chair sent an e-mail around with a nice memory of him (apparently he had come in to talk with her just a couple weeks before he was killed, he was returning some borrowed books) and a request that people donate.

I could probably stop in that office on my way home for lunch today...I should do it. I remember him, I remember he was a nice guy, and I was horrified by what happened. And my chair noted that because of the tragic nature of his death, apparently the scholarship isn't being publicized the way ones are for (say) a student who died of more natural causes.

* I started reading a book yesterday called "Demystifying Climate Change" but I don't know if I'll continue because it reads like it's written for high schoolers - I'm four chapters in and it's all stuff I know. And it's written in a mock-breezy, joking style, which I find SUPER annoying for material like this. There's good casual writing (That "This Green and Growing Land" I referenced was not written in jargony technical language, but it was good and engaging and interesting) and there's BAD casual writing that makes you cringe because it has a complete "How are you doing, Fellow Kids!" tone to it that is off putting.

(Heh:




Never change, Friendship is Magic.)



Don't talk down to teens or kids. They can see through it in a heartbeat. I think part of the success I had as a Youth Group leader was that I talked *across* to the kids: I treated them more or less as intellectual equals. Oh, I didn't use highfalutin' language with them but neither did I try to sound hip, because I know I can't do that.

* I decided to try taking a few days off taking loratidine (the non-prescription antihistamine I am on; the monteleukast has some fairly serious warnings against stopping it abruptly). I've been having *hellacious* dreams every night this week.

(And I wonder: I bought "generic equivalent" at wal-mart last time I was there, because the branded Claritin was like 4 times as much. I wonder if they allow more of the alternate enantiomer through in the generics - I read somewhere that one form - I forget if it's L or D - of loratidine has the antihistamine property, the other form can mess with your head. I wouldn't be surprised if the wal-mart brand was bad. I'm tempted to go elsewhere and buy the real stuff and try going back on that).

I can't think of anything else going on that would cause it, unless I'm doing too  much "taking in" of information (the reading for my classes this fall) and not enough putting-out of information/interacting with people.

But yeah. I'm not going to impose the plots of my current nightmares on you, but I will note it has me wondering about the old kid urban legend that "if you die in your dream, you die in real life." I interpreted it as "you die RIGHT THEN" as in, your dying in the dream is you dying at that moment in time but as an adult I wonder if it really meant "you are having a premonition of your death" which is creepy, but.....if the premonition is something that will happen, say, 80 years in the future....it's not so creepy.

* My Pandora classical channel has decided it's time to start playing classical Christmas music (John Rutter and the like. And yes, I do "thumbs up" a lot of the British choral music that runs across it so I might have taught it this). Yesterday it annoyed me and I kept hitting the "skip" button but today I'm just going to leave it - it's soft and nice and warm and pretty, and I feel like I need some nice and pretty things today.

* Next week is the Meetingpalooza, and the local public school starts in a week. (We start a week from this coming Monday). A woman I talked to yesterday - someone from church who has a child the same age as my niece, and who is starting kindergarten this year, said that Friday of this week they are posting the class lists and teacher's names.

And they still do it like they did when I was a kid! She said they were told what door of the school to go to, and the lists would be posted on the inside of the glass door. I was a little surprised by that, given the ubiquity of online stuff and how schools seem to buy very heavily into the "let's make people visit the webpage" thing.

But I'm glad they do it this way. For one thing, it's a happy little connect with my childhood: I remember what a big deal it was going down to the school to see who my teacher was, and hoping at least one of my (few) friends was in my homeroom class. But also, given the economics in my town: I am sure there are families without reliable internet access or a device that will read websites. (Even with the ubiquity of smartphones, some websites are v. hard to read on them or don't work - I make a big fat hairy deal with my students about "DON'T USE YOUR PHONE FOR THE ONLINE HOMEWORK" because more often than not, it doesn't calculate their score correctly - and then it's a lot of effort for both them and me to correct it)

But also, it does add that little bit of....you might almost say, ceremony? to it. It makes it into a thing, whereas you can check your computer for ANYTHING. Also, maybe for kids who are first starting school it's good to go and see the school a couple days before you start.

Ah man. I remember the feel of the classrooms in primary school right when they first opened up - the slightly stale smell of rooms that had been closed up all summer, the newness of the bulletin boards, the newness of your new school supplies, the nervousness about whether your teacher would be "nice" or "mean" (And I had a few teachers who had "mean" reputations but I found them to not be so). Hoping you had friends in your class, or at least that you weren't in class with that one kid who was mean to you....and new lunchboxes (when I was a kid, metal lunchboxes were still a thing, but once you hit nine or so, they weren't cool any more, so we carried our lunches in paper sacks....) And tight new school shoes (My "school shoes" were always lace-up or mary-jane type shoes; tennis shoes were not worn outside of gym class when I was a kid, and now I don't know if that was a fashion thing, or a dress-code thing, or if it was a thing specific to my parents, that they had been told tennis shoes would ruin my feet? I do know my little brother had to do that thing with the bar connecting his baby shoes because he was deemed pigeon-toed, so I wonder if our pediatrician told them that hard-soled shoes were necessary.... And at any rate, I was kind of a formal little kid who preferred dresses or jumpers (translation for the UK folks: pinafore dresses) and so more-formal shoes would go with them. Interestingly - my niece also really likes jumper dresses, despite not being a particularly "girly" girl.)

There were a lot of uncomfortable and sad things about grade school for me, but there are also a lot of things I remember fondly and miss: SRA, and the Scholastic book clubs and book fairs, and the little Weekly Reader newspapers, and milk in those little cartons (and calling it "chocolate" or "white," which never seemed strange to me until someone noted that calling plain milk "white" was strange...). And the "spelling words" exercises where they encouraged us to make up sentences using the words and one of my friends and I had this wild, long, ongoing saga about Red Riding Hood, and the Wolf (who, as it turned out, was not a bad guy, and was totally misunderstood, and Red figured that out) and Red's grandmother...and we would regularly crack ourselves up in that third-grade-humor way.

* Though I will say it feels like school starts too early now; it seems too hot. As I remember when I was a kid we started *after* Labor Day (though I'm not sure how that would work at the college level, at least on a semester system: you'd be done mere days before Christmas - if then - and it would make travel hard). But it's too hot out, it doesn't *feel* like fall and back-to-school. (Though again: growing up in Ohio in the 1970s....it was a cooler time than it is now, and fall seemed to start earlier)

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Two afternoon thoughts:

1. I found out today the reason underlying some tension I had sensed within a group I am part of. I'm not going to give identifying details, but it was fundamentally a case of someone taking great umbrage over something that seemed to me to be a minor thing.

And yeah, yeah, I know, I've said, "Small input, big reaction, something else is going on in the reactor" but in the rare instances where I've exothermic-ed all over someone, I've realized it later, and gone back and apologized to them for overreacting.....but in this case it's been a year or more so I doubt there's going to be any kind of reconciliation.

Oh well.

I also realized something about myself: I think of myself as exceptionally sensitive and easily hurt (Fluttershy is not my Patronus *just* because I like pink and yellow together). But....maybe I'm not? Because in the situation described, if it happened as presented? I'd have been embarrassed (because I was in the wrong) but I wouldn't have been hurt, exactly. I probably would have apologized to the person who called me out and changed my behavior....

And I wonder: maybe all those years of being told, as a kid, by parents and teachers to, "get over your hurt feelings" finally sunk in, or something. Or I got good enough at swallowing the hurt. Or something. I don't know.

I also think my desire to be "liked" (which often translates to me being so conflict-averse that I don't stand up for myself, sometimes maybe in cases where I should) overrides my desire to express my hurt feelings. Oh, there have been times where something's happened and I've thought, "The best passive-aggressive response in the world, if I wanted to do it, would be XYZ" but then I also think, "The other person's reaction to that would make doing it totally not worth it" and so I move on.

Or as one of my Youth Group kids used to say (until we talked to him about "tone" and why maybe it wasn't a cool response): "Cry me a river, build a bridge, and get over it." I have spent a lot of my life building and crossing those kinds of bridges, whereas it seems some other people like burning theirs.

Whatever. I need to dive back into something somewhat work related and forget the oogy feelings the whole situation gave me. (I hate gossip)

2. I am TOTALLY going to Whitesboro Friday. I need it. And if I have time and energy, I'm stopping at the *other* yarn shop (the one in Sherman) and at the JoAnn's before hitting the grocery and heading home.

For me, craft stores (of almost any stripe, provided they cater to crafts I do) are like Tiffany's was for Holly Golightly - you feel as if nothing very bad can happen there. And if I don't exactly have the "mean reds" today*, I have something more like the....anxious mauves? Maybe? or the blah greys.

(*I vaguely remember reading some commentator who opined that was actually a very deeply coded reference to coming down off drugs, or something....I'm not sure I buy that; it seems the "mean reds" could be simple anxiety, though when I am anxious I would in no way describe it as "mean reds" or even "being afraid, but you don't know of what" - for me, being anxious is more of a jangled feeling, like there are a hundred jagged pieces of something in my stomach and lungs, and I can't quite breathe right, and I can't get my mind to shut up, and it feels like nothing is ever going to be quite RIGHT again....I don't really associate a color with it as much as I to a texture, and that texture is sharp-edged, like when you drop a piece of Corolleware on the floor and it breaks into a million pieces, and you're still finding them with your bare feet weeks later, even if you think you've swept them all up....or like that time years back when I set a hot Pyrex pie plate in the sink, and cold water dripped on it, and it exploded into about a thousand shards...)

My "symptoms" are definitely not the "symptoms of the mean reds" that this Audrey Hepburn fan writes about. I find *focused* anxiety (e.g., "I have to do a devotional Sunday") is much, much easier to deal with - I have a goal ("If I sit down and work hard on it, it will be good, and it will work out, and things will be fine") and I know when it will be "over" (and also, I admit, with the recent devotional, I hit a point where I said my own personal version of "Jesus, take the wheel" and just figured if it was meant to be good and speak to people, it would, and there was no sense me tweaking it any more).

I also tend to rarely be indecisive when there's some big issue to deal with. I look at pros and cons, I listen to my gut, I make a choice, and I try not to look back. Also my "issues" don't deal with love or financial security in the sense that Holly had to worry about them. 

No, the anxiety I suffer is more....unfocused. Sometimes after it's over I can pinpoint a cause ("someone I care about was suffering, and I was worried about them, but I didn't realize that was it"). Sometimes there is no clear cause (often I think bad allergies make me nervous, and I've had a few rounds of what I swore would be PMS, but without the, um, expected end result, so I don't know)

But yeah. Walking around in a quilt shop or a yarn store or even a "general" craft shop like JoAnn's or Michael's makes me feel better, because I'm surrounded by all that possibility: things I could make, things that are soft and nice, things I could use to make my house prettier or more organized.

And I think I need the thought of that now to propel me through today and tomorrow...


****

Edited to add (so now it's either 3 or 4 afternoon thoughts....)

My Loot Crate came - this is another subscription box thing, this one from Sanrio. It's quarterly, and a bit more expensive, but it's quality stuff, so I think I'll let it renew again. This quarter's theme was "Splash" (as in: summer at the beach).

lootcrate

Unfortunately, the little poster got a little damp - it was raining and I guess USPS guys, unlike UPS guys, don't carry a roll of plastic bags for covering boxes.

There's a tank-top (which I will either use for pajamas, or, if I ever wear it "for real" will layer over a white tshirt because of (a) upper arm exposure and (b) the risk of, ahem, side-boob when wearing a loosely cut tank.  Or, in my case, side-visible-bra, I guess.

And a set of embroidered pins, and a shiny! make-up case (that I might use to carry a small knitting project instead; it's the right size for socks). And an "IOU" for a "multi character sarong" that will ship out soon...so I have another thing to look forward to.

But my favorite thing, of course, is always the stuffies, so:

A Hello Kitty Mermaid! (Purr-maid?) She has a little plastic carabiner sewn onto her, so I guess you could hook her onto a backpack.


I also got a photo of Olivia. I like this outfit better than what I first had on her but I still don't think it's perfect:
Olivia


I'm not in love with the lipstick color they have on her but I don't know how to repaint faces so I guess it stays. From some angles she almost looks slightly grumpy, but I think that's a trick of the light.

this modern life

News story this morning: A couple women are alleging there were skimmers for credit-cards at "two Sherman grocery stores" and that their card numbers got stolen and many charges caused in Arlington.

And of COURSE the news channel doesn't name the stores, so everyone who has bought groceries in Sherman with a credit card in the past week or so is wondering which one. And given that the allegedly fraudulent charges were levied in a city less than an hour from Sherman, I could see the credit-card companies not picking up on it.

(For a while, every time I ordered books from Folio Society - which is in the UK - or yarn from a Canadian seller I sometimes used, I would get calls from my credit card issuer wanting to know if I had made the charge. I once laughed and told the guy, "If the product involved is yarn or books, you can probably bet it's me")

I am somewhat irritated by this - why NOT name the stores, so people know. If it's a place you don't shop, you don't have to worry, or, conversely, if it is, it might mean you need to check up.

And honestly? If stores are not checking their credit-card readers daily (or better, a couple times a day), they deserve whatever opprobrium they receive from the public. Name them. But the news didn't.

So, you know me: I checked up anyway. For all three of the cards I use at different times.

No charges on any that aren't charges I made.

But now I wonder - could it be they're not 100% SURE this was a case of skimmer fraud, and that maybe they have to investigate? (I could see someone trying to claim "fraud" for charges they rung up, to weasel out of them. But then, I am inclined to be a suspicious wench).

But, how much extra effort that puts on honest people. And the stores - they need to watch their darn checkouts. Surely they have cameras trained on them where someone would SEE someone popping a skimmer over the credit card device? I know there are "here is how to spot a skimmer" websites out there, but frankly - at some stores the proper devices are so worn and janky it's hard to tell if they've been tampered with or not. (And if you're paying by credit card, you have no choice but to use the machines. And you can't tell me it's safer to walk around with a purse with $300 in it. If the criminals know you're carrying cash, you become a target. That's part of the reason I like credit cards: if mine were to get stolen, one phone call ends the damage, and in the couple cases I've dealt with personally, the charge gets removed. If I get $300 boosted out of my purse? It's gone forever)

I've also read lots of cases where wal-mart was the store with the skimmers (which makes me wonder if that's the store here) and yeah, wal-mart pays its employees badly and has too few of them so I can see them not really caring about credit-card skimmers or not.

Another annoyance: I thought forcing all of us to go to chip cards would prevent this. My Target Mastercard is the ONLY chip-AND-PIN card I have: the others have chips but just have me sign instead of entering a PIN.

And they're also reminding people of gas-pump skimmers. And yeah, I admit, this is one place I take a calculated risk: I LIKE pay-at-the-pump. It's faster, if I'm in an unfamiliar area (where I don't know what the safety level is) I don't have to walk across the parking lot and into the gas station office, and I don't have to interact with another person. I do have one low-limit card I try to use for gas, on the grounds of "if it gets stolen, the crook won't be able to do as much damage." (And yeah, the number has been stolen three times in the 20 or so years I've had the card, and two of those times I found out because my credit-card issuer called me about "unusual charges" - once, the guy asked me, "Are you in Las Vegas right now?" and I laughed and said "I am in my office in Oklahoma" and he laughed and said "I didn't think so, I'll cancel this card number and send a new one out to you")

But yeah, they're once again lecturing at us to "go into the store and pay in person" and that annoys me for several reasons:

1. Once again, honest people are being told to bear the effort-burden to prevent criminals. Instead, there should maybe be stiffer penalties - and penalties for gas stations, too, if they "allow" skimmers to be on their pumps. It seems so much in our modern world is set up so that the people who are honest wind up doing extra work to account for those who are dishonest, and it feels deeply wrong.

2. Like a dishonest store clerk has never stolen a customer's credit card number?

3. Sometimes it's pouring down rain and you don't want to have to walk across a long parking lot. Or you're a woman traveling alone in an area that feels hinky and you'd rather be close to your car so you could jump in and lock the doors if someone started harassing you. Or you're disabled in some way and getting across the parking lot is hard. Or it's one of our typical million-degree summer days and you will be a pool of sweat by the time you get there and back.

And anyway. Pay-at-the-pump is a good invention, it's one of my favorite innovations of the last 20 years or so, and it makes me mad that criminals have found a way to make people doubt it.

But yeah. People putting skimmers over credit-card readers to steal the numbers is one of those things, like scam telemarketing calls, door-to-door hustlers, and people texting-while-driving, that should not be in the world today, and yet, it is.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Taking some comfort

* I am home from work for the day. Tonight is bell choir, which means I get to see Mike and Judy and Billie and all of them, and we're going to start some new music, and it will be fun. And I'm starting to learn to get over my dislike of being seen as being not-expert at something - heck, no one is that good at a piece when we first start it. I probably need things like that in my life; one of the things that holds me back from doing some things is that I feel like (a) I'm not good enough and (b) it's embarrassing for people to see me not be good at something.

Tomorrow is a lunch meeting (we are meeting at a local restaurant so my lunch is planned for, though I presume it's Dutch treat and am OK with that) for some scholarship stuff at church. And I'm also now on the Worship Committee, though that's (a) mainly as a courtesy (the new board moderator said he felt the head elder should be looped in and perhaps he is right) and (b) I won't be able to make the next meeting as it's at the same time as the pre-scheduled Wesley Center meeting - and as recording secretary, I need to be there. 

* My African-American made-to-move doll arrived today - a day early (and at one point, I was wondering if I'd get told she was "out of stock" and I'd have to wait). I have decided that her name is neither Lavinia nor Audrey; it is Olivia, which seems to fit her better. No photo yet; maybe once I find an outfit I really like on her. She is a little darker in complexion than the Gabby Douglas doll. I have her in a short green-and-peach print dress but I'm not sure I like it on her; she might need something more strongly colored.

Heh, for a while when I first opened her, I was calling her "Regular-Sized Olivia" (following the joke on Bob's Burgers about "Regular-Sized Rudy" (vs. "Pocket-Sized Rudy," a very short child) because when I first looked at her I thought, "Wait, is this the Tall body type?" (Which would have been OK; the Curvy shoes fit the Tall dolls, and I would have something that was long enough). But nope: she's the standard Barbie size, which means all the clothes fit her (Well, some of the separates are now made to fit Curvy, and are a bit big on her) and she can share shoes with Gabby. 

And I can make a few "standard sized" Barbie skirts; I have a simple a-line skirt pattern - I want to make a denim-look one (if I have any material that will work, or I could buy a quarter-yard at JoAnn's this weekend) and maybe a fancier one, and maybe a solid color black or brown one. (I probably need to consider getting some tiny snaps to use as closures. The commercial clothes have hook-and-loop closures but I really prefer snaps)

(I also have some inexpensive "vintage" - homemade - Barbie clothes coming from an Etsy seller. And I still want to make some of my own; I found a knit pleated skirt that uses a sockweight yarn that might make cool winter-wear for one of the dolls. I should also dig around next time I'm at my parents; I'm quite sure I have a few pieces of Barbie sized clothing I made back when I was first collecting dolls....).

* Still planning a Whitesboro trip Friday - also maybe will stop on the way back in Sherman to look at the antique mall. Trying to cram in the fun I didn't take over the summer.

* I'm getting a lot better at the current piece for piano (Mendelssohn's "Venetian Boat Song.") I got discouraged after watching a YouTube version of it and the comments had people chiming in about how young they were (how low of a primary grade) when they mastered it; apparently it's a common competition piece. I was struggling with it at that point but I'm getting better. (Perhaps I need to find more challenging pieces, though I tend to gravitate towards the ones for children because my hands are not large, and sometimes the reach in, like, some of the Chopin pieces is just not possible for me). Maybe another Bach invention; Bach seemed to understand that many keyboardists don't have giant hands.)

(And I wonder if little kids understand the sense of - what I interpret as a sort of longing, maybe even what the Germans call Sehnsucht in the piece.)

And I'm pretty good now at the arrangement of "Precious Lord, Take my Hand" and I've found an arrangement of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" that I want to try next.

* I'm working away on a little pair of fingerless mitts, and I want to get more done on the current sweater (the Augusta cardigan) but I admit I'm now eyeing "Incunabula" (in a book I ordered from the UK called "This Thing of Paper"). It's a lovely book - apparently the result of a Kickstarter - and it has complex, unusual designs in it. Pretty much "classic style with a twist," which is EXACTLY what I like in knitting patterns: not trendy, so as long as I stay the same size (and the garment doesn't get eaten by bugs), I can still wear it when I'm 70 or whatever.  Incunabula would work with the yellow DK I bought back on my first trip to A Balanced Skein, and that might be more fun than the simpler cardigan in the Berroco book. (There's another sweater in there - a pullover, Incunabula is a cardi - called "Marginalia" that I also love, it's a simple pullover with some simple colorwork at the cuffs and hem, to recall the notes-written-in-margins of books).


What I need to do is force myself off the internet in the evening (or set it up on a table next to me so I can periodically glance at Twitter or Ravelry) and knit on all the projects I want to be making.

Here comes school

* Yes, the tax-free weekend in Texas does include Friday. Dang. So I guess I avoid Target, then.

* And they are doing move-in on campus: the signs are up directing people to the residence halls. Fortunately, my building is about as far away from them as possible so unlikely we will get any "hey can we take up all your faculty spots for unloading?" requests.

I remember move in the year I lived in the dorm. It was a nightmare trying to park, everyone else was doing it at the same time (Maybe now schools have wised-up and have staggered move-in days). I remember lugging a nasty old club chair I rescued out of my parents' basement to my (single) room. And I remember all the advice on what to bring and what not to bring - I rented a mini fridge (which are probably a pretty good thing to have in a dorm room). Technically, microwaves were not allowed (but everyone had them as it turned out) but hot-pots were, so I had a little pot that would heat water so I could at least do instant soup or instant oatmeal on Sunday evenings when the cafeteria wasn't open.

I guess some people now almost have mini-kitchens with slowcookers and everything, but I'd only have done that if I weren't buying the meal plan in the dorm. (The food was not great; a lot of the time I existed on yogurt, salad, and toast)

I also remember one magazine (? I think it was) advising AGAINST bringing "childhood stuffed animals" or other "immature" things and I rolled my eyes at that and you know: if you need something for comfort, you need it for comfort, and honestly, being a freshman student trying to live in a dorm is gonna be a comfort-needing situation. (The loudness, in particular. I was not prepared for a next-door neighbor who stayed out until the bars closed at 2 and then sometimes brought her friends back for an afterparty. She was a Dance major with dreams of being the next Madonna [I am not kidding] and I still can't hear the theme music from "Fame" [apparently a favorite piece] without cringing a bit in memory of those nights I was rudely awakened).

I remember there were wall-phones in every room. I bet now dorms don't bother with that and expect students to have cell phones. And I had a "calling card" (remember those? They were like a portable long-distance plan where you could call from any phone that did long distance, and it would be charged to you) so I could call my parents. (I think once or twice, when I didn't have the card handy and it was an emergency, I called collect - probably something else today's kids don't know about - but I understood that was an emergency thing because of the expense.

And the shared bathroom. Upside was we didn't have to clean it. Downside was, it was shared. (At least the showers were not "gang showers," like in some dorms, so you didn't have to deal with all the discomfort of being a postadolescent female who feared your body was hopelessly weird and what if other women saw it? Because you KNEW they'd judge you....)

But yeah. That was a weird year. (I lost in the dorm lottery at the end of the year, and had the unappealing choices of: "South Hall" ("It's great!" one of my labmates said, "It's a 24/7 party in there, it never quiets down until 4 am" and I shuddered at the thought), living in the engineering dorm on North Campus and having a 15 minute bus ride each way (which might not have been such a bad thing in retrospect), or getting an apartment. I opted for the last, but it was difficult to find a secure one that wouldn't necessitate having a roommate (at that point, I didn't want one, and I stand by that today). Finally I did, and spent probably way too much of the money I had put aside for my education on it, but at least I was within walking distance of campus, I had a door that was unlikely to get kicked in, and the building was quiet....

* And the follies begin. I already had a student asking about excused absences (hopefully it is just the one day and hopefully the person is as serious about their education as they claimed in their e-mail, but I'm old and cynical enough to see claims of "I'm really serious about my education and don't like to skip class, like, at all" as "the lady doth protest too much, methinks" because I've had cases where people talked about how "serious" or "excited for the subject" or whatever, and then they started skipping, and missing deadlines, and coming to me with long sad stories that weren't really all that much of a hardship....

I also found out something today that displeases me greatly, and I think it also displeases my chair: she called me and asked if I'd overriden someone into one of my full classes. This is a class with a lab, where there are 24 seats and space for 24 people to work at a bench, so....no, I had not.

She had not either. And no one in our department likely had because the practice we follow is that we CALL the instructor in charge of a class to be SURE it is okay if we override someone in. It's just polite, and it's good practice, because a few of the rooms are small enough that even 1 or 2 extra people is a burden.

Well, she looked it up. It's someone from another major. The advisor there just decided it was a fine idea to do without asking any of us if it was. This is also a major that I've had more....shall we say, problematic....students from than any other. So I am NOT happy.

Part of it is I feel disrespected: There are three good reasons this class is capped at 24:
- Field labs, and the challenge of field-vehicle capacity
- Lab room capacity is tight and limited and I guess now I have to give up my front table so this student has a place to sit
- It's a grading-intensive class for me (a lot of writing) and I don't have help with it.

And no, unlike some places, I cannot demand additional compensation for the extra student.

But the other thing is: this happens to lab classes a lot. Other departments where there aren't labs don't understand that (a) we can't just blithely move to another, bigger room (either there aren't any available, or I DO NOT NEED the extra burden - without a TA to help - of hauling all the equipment I will need for a certain lab down to the "new room" and then hauling it back at the end of the day) and (b) We have caps for a reason.

It's just.... like the old bit about some pigs being more equal than others.

And yeah, yeah, it's possible the problem will solve itself by someone dropping, but I still feel disrespected and not-listened-to. (I KNOW my chair has talked with other departments about "some of our lab rooms are really small so do not override people into our classes without asking") and once again I just feel....yeah, not-listened-to. It's not a good feeling.

(Eleven more years. Or, if Medicare is still a thing, sixteen more years and I can retire with better health coverage....)

And yeah, part of it is the whole disrespect thing. No, actually, most of it is. If they had called and explained and asked, I might have found a way to make it work. But they just did it. And yeah, respect is important to me because I spent so much of my childhood having disrespect heaped on me by peers and others, and I had hoped when I grew up and got a career that would end, but....yeah, no.

I suppose there is no career where you get much respect. Maybe elite athletes and good actors and things like that, you get more respect than otherwise, but most of us low-talent shlubs don't have that luck....


I'm teaching four different classes this fall so I especially don't need any extra burdens. (And I have a research student to work with, and I am NOT shorting the attention I give her for some other nonsense.)

Tuesday morning things

* I had to evict a very small spider from the shoes I planned to wear today. I have had a right plague of these: tiny little ones, makes me wonder what they eat as they are so small. They make tiny strandy webs around places; I've been having to clean their webs off my bookcases and the like. I'm not afraid of them and don't mind them but the webs do look untidy.

* Driving in today, someone turned right in front of me to *very slowly* pull partway into an alleyway. I slowly edged around them (no oncoming traffic) and then they started BACKING BACK OUT.

Like I wasn't there. Or they didn't see me. And then, someone pulled out of a parking lot without looking.

Two thoughts:

1. I once remarked on "Cottard's Delusion" (a belief that one is actually dead despite all evidence to the contrary) and wondered if there was a related delusion that one was invisible because I swear to Bob some days I think I must be. Oh, I see myself in the mirror, and people who know me seem to see me, but....I go to the grocery store and people push past me, or I go out on the road and people pull out when they don't have the right of way just like I wasn't there.

2. It seems to me I've seen an uptick in the kind of "I don't have the right of way but I don't care, all the other drivers need to watch out for me me me" behavior in the last few years and I know I am too good at seeing patterns where they do not actually exist but it does seem to me that the level of self-centered behavior (where the person expects everyone else to watch out for them and yield to them) seems to be increasing.

And as someone who never expects people to watch out for her, it's exhausting and at times terrifying. I've had a few near-misses - often the other driver was texting - and I really hope I never actually get in an accident. I have fast reflexes and am almost paranoiacally careful to pay attention when I drive, but.

* Actually, I think a certain amount of my....malaise...in life of late comes from my expectation that no one will ever watch out for me. So I'm shouldering the load of my own "support" in that way and when someone else expects me to look out for them, or emotionally support them, or cheerlead them, or whatever, and there's no expectation they reciprocate - it just makes me tired and sad.

* I've been having some issues with stiff/sore neck in the morning. It persisted even after working out so I figured it wasn't just a "slept funny" issue. The past couple nights I've been heating up a buckwheat bag and wrapping it around my neck or over my shoulders for maybe 20 minutes to half an hour before bed (while I am reading). The stiff and sore neck is considerably less so I don't know - tense muscles? Stress hanging out there? At least it means the pillow I have is not bad for my neck (which is what I was afraid of - I like it, but I was wondering if maybe it was a little too puffy for how I sleep. I know some "sleep experts" who talk about how you should use a v. flat and almost hard pillow - and some who claim that for some positions, no pillow at all is best, and that just....seems unnecessarily ascetic).

* I guess today is move-in day, or one of the move-in days: as I passed University, I noted all the on-street parking had been coned off by the campus police.

So even though going to wal-mart yesterday was bad and annoying, it would be worse today. And this weekend is the "sales tax holiday" in Texas, so....I don't know. I wonder if it starts Friday. There is really nothing I need that is in the "tax free" category and the stores are even more likely to be full of people. (Then again: the shops in Whitesboro won't, which was my main destination; maybe I just avoid the Target this time)

* I got my August Doki Doki crate. I guess they've discontinued ever having small stuffies in them, which makes me sad. I might run out this year with them and then decide: do I want to re-up for next year, or am I better saving that money and spending it on things I specifically want? And yes, if I choose not to renew, I'll let them know why: that a lot of the stuff in the crate hasn't been that useful to me, the periodic "surprise food" doesn't often get eaten (allergies and tooth issues), and I miss the small toys.

It does make me sad, though. Partly because there aren't stuffies in there but partly because it again tells me: "What you like is not what normal people like, you are weird and therefore you don't fit in and also you are doomed to be dissatisfied"

This month's crate was a Sumikko Gurashi floor mat (the best thing and I might put it next to my bed instead of the old rug I have there), and a set of "Little Twin Stars" "cooking chopsticks" which I am not sure I will ever use, and a bamboo bowl which cannot go in the microwave or the dishwasher* and so is less practical to me (I may use it to hold stuff in my sewing room instead), and a Shiba Inu soy sauce dish (I never have dishes of condiments out....the dish is clever, there's an etched shiba on it that shows up when you put the soy sauce in, but I'll never use it), and a "crazy straw" shaped like the outline of Hello Kitty's head (I never use straws....)

(As I sometimes say: I could probably be talked out of any of this stuff, except for the floor mat, so let me know if you have a burning desire for a reusable crazy straw in a Hello Kitty shape or a tiny shibe dish).

(* I have taken to heating EVERYTHING I eat, even raw fruit**, in the microwave until it steams, because I have developed a fear of food poisoning. It seems like every day you hear about a new thing and I'm all but convinced that (a) rollbacks in some regulations + too few inspections is contributing to this and (b) the six-months-or-so of stomach issues I had back in 2016 may have stemmed from Listeria contracted from frozen "organic" berries - because I had some of the recalled brand, in about the time frame where I got sick. So my eating utensils have to be microwaveable, and I really prefer being able to throw stuff in the dishwasher)

(** and yes, I wash it first too. And I try to buy organic to avoid pesticide residue, but the problem here is that bacteria qualify as "organic." I am also to the point of refusing salads on the rare occasions I eat at a restaurant where salad might be an option.)

Monday, August 06, 2018

Blanket fort desired

I dunno. I'm having one of those days where all the unhappiness people around me are experiencing (someone I know getting online hate, someone who lost a loved one....) is weighing me down and the whole world just seems like a sad place.

Part of it is the awful news story I heard last night, and the way it was presented. I decided to catch a few minutes of the 9 pm semi-local news. They were running a story from Houston - which is farther from me than Chicago is, I think - so I'm sure it's the sensationalism of it.

I can't not say what it was, but it's horrible. Fundamentally, a father had two of his kids call their mother (his estranged wife) and then he killed them. In cold blood. And she found them. And the father ran away and tried to kill himself but failed at that.

The worst part though was that they had footage of either the mother or an aunt of the kids (or even just a female friend of the family, I don't know) and she was crying with that keening wail that seems like such a primal thing - it made me shudder and involuntarily tear up. I had to switch away, partly because it was so painful to contemplate, but mainly because I was disgusted at the news reporters doing that.

(And then this morning: "amateur video" showing that small plane in California, where everyone was killed, going down).

If I had any control over mores of how things were done, one thing would be that: No shoving a camera in the face of a grieving relative. No showing accident footage. If you have to preface what you're going to show with "Some of this footage may be graphic," you take that as a direction that you are NOT to show it.

And of course, all the "gotcha"-ing back and forth,, all the cases where someone who disagrees with someone's policies or ideas decides instead to attack their appearance or family or make up insulting nicknames for them (all of which make me far less likely to pay attention to the person's argument, no matter how good it might be). Yes, I know people say "The other side fights dirty" but I also say "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind"

And I'm just.....kind of done. This happens to me periodically, where it feels like the weight of badness or just plain meanness in the world kind of crushes me.

I mowed and edged this morning: it had to be done, it provided me some exercise, and (hopefully) it's going to rain later this week, but I thought of a couple things:

1. One of the things I like about kids' programming is that by and large it avoids the political. The messages it presents tends to be more things like "be kind to one another" or "trust the person who has experience about something" or "honesty is the best policy" or whatever. And I have remarked before at times that I am a "bear of very little brain" in some ways, and I prefer those messages than the weird and wooly world that politics seems to have become.

I also don't enjoy schadenfreude much any more - where a bad thing happens to a "bad" person. Oh, when it's instant karma, maybe I can kind of shrug and go "you get what you put out in this world" but I'd be happier if the "bad" person didn't do the bad things to begin with.

(Actually, in my Sunday school lesson yesterday - over Romans 2:1-12 - we talked about the danger of labeling "whole people" as "bad" - a sort of othering - instead of saying "this particular action they are doing is a problem because it's damaging to the community." The problem with dismissing someone as "bad" - well, it's like banning speech. You get to ban the speech you dislike, but then someone else will dislike YOUR speech and ban you. We're all "bad" in some way.)

2. If I could have anything today, instead of washing my hair/practicing piano/maybe running out to refill my Claritin and then going over to work after lunch, I'd spend the day in craft stores. I'd love to go to a Michael's (there is not one within an hour of me) or even the JoAnn's I always go to, or maybe go to quilt shops and yarn stores and just wander around looking at the stuff and thinking about the possibilities of what I could make with it. Or getting to look at bunches of new craft books and contemplate the patterns.

I can't do that, though. I'm telling myself if I do a few useful things this week (getting the invitation-to-the-salad-supper letter written for our scholarship recipients, finalizing my syllabi, re-doing my lab packet), Friday I can take and go to Whitesboro and get a *little* bit of that. (And maybe stop at the JoAnn's on the way home).

But yeah. I can tell I'm feeling some distress over stuff. I have been reading "A Trick of the Light," another Gamache mystery (and apparently I missed one in the sequence because there are events alluded to I don't remember from the previous book*)

(*Yup. I haven't read "Bury Your Dead" yet and this list has it set immediately before. And now I'm apprehensive to read it, based on some of the stuff the current book alludes to...)

But anyway. After hearing that news story (about the child murder) last night, I looked at it, and was just like "I can't." And I didn't quite feel like reading more on "The Grey King" at the moment, because, without TOO much spoiling - let's just say this website would not be too happy with some of the events in the book.

But I needed to read something before bed. I thought of going full-regression and pulling either Winnie-the-Pooh or The 101 Dalmations off the shelf, but then I thought: non-fiction should do it, the right kind of non-fiction, nothing about war or disease.....maybe history of science, because in general that shows human ingenuity and how stuff gets better....

So I looked on my shelves and found "The Riddle of the Compass." It's a slightly older book (mine is the 2001 paperback) and I remember I bought it back when it first came out. I figured: it's unlikely to be distressing so this might work.

Yeah. It seems thus far (about 30 pages in) to be (a) very readable, (b) interesting, and (c) doesn't make me more upset with the human race than I already am. I'm learning a little bit about sidereal navigation and I'm hoping when the author gets to the point where sextants were invented, he explains them a little more because I never fully understood how they worked....

But yeah. I don't know if I'm the only person who's ever had to put a book aside because events of the outside world made continuing to read it too distressing, but....I've done that quite frequently. (I never finished "Gulliver's Travels" because its cynicism got to me too much, at a time when already bad stuff was going on in the world)

Sunday, August 05, 2018

This and that

* Bell choir starts back up on Tuesday (I am noting this partly as a self-reminder). I am looking forward to it. There's just something good about working towards a common goal with a group of people.

* Another reminder to self: the scholarship committee at church I am now on meets Wednesday at noon. 

* Without going into too much detail, I heard a story of what I would refer to as "petty cruelty" - someone coming back into this country after being in a home country (the individual in question is a permanent resident, with a green card, they are married to a born-and-raised US citizen, they have a job here). They reported that the customs enforcement/immigration seemed to "slow walk" everything and they were quite rude to the person in question.

(In case you wondered: the person is from a South American nation, so I guess you'd say she was Latina.)

I don't know. I mean, on the one hand, yes, I have worked in a bureaucracy long enough to know that there are (a) people who really really love their power and like to make others squirm as they use it, (b) think if they follow some "underlying current" in the culture they think they sense, that they might get ahead, and (c) if they have any prejudices at all, they have enough subjectivity in their jobs to have free rein to make life less pleasant for their disfavored group.

But, even though I've seen stuff like that, even though I've known cases where (for example) someone in the uni bureaucracy holds a grudge against a particular department because of something that happened 10 years ago and so makes the people from that department jump through every hoop possible (when other departments' stuff gets fast-tracked), still....it distresses me when I see it.

And it reminds me of something my father once said, about why he pushed to help students when they came to his office, even when his office wasn't maybe the logical one to help - he would personally call the office that could help and say "This is Dr. Lastname (who was known as a department head); I am sending Studentname over to you because they need xyz to be done, please facilitate this for them" because, as he said "I don't like to see students become ping-pong balls"

And yes. I have had that very experience myself as a student (at schools he was not at) where I wound up running from pillar to post because supposedly no office could do all of what I needed to have done, and it's a terrible and frustrating (and isolating, if you're a college freshman away from home for the first time) feeling.

And I admit: the tiny bit of power I have as a professor? The few times I've actually relished that power it's been when I could do something like call the Registrar and go "Yes, I have a student sitting in my office with a receipt saying they paid off such-and-such bill, so they should no longer have a business hold, but I cannot enroll them in classes because the hold hasn't been removed yet. Could you take care of that right now?" And of course, it always is.

I mean, yeah: it makes my life easier because I don't have to make another appointment with the student, but it's also gratifying to see the relief on the student's face.

THAT'S what a person should use their bureaucratic power for, I think.

And perhaps it's a bit of the old Golden Rule in play here, something I was taught very abundantly in my youth - and my memories of being that sad scared college student trying to fix something all on my own, when someone with a little pull could have called the office in question and gone, "Yes, can you make this happen for this student?"

(And I wonder: in some people, does the feeling of "Wow, I've been there" NOT translate to "Can I make it so this other person doesn't have to be there" but rather to "Heh, so I'm gonna see that they go through the exact same thing"? I dunno. Not that I'm such a noble person but I derive more pleasure from feeling like "this kid doesn't have to deal with what I had to deal with" than "I'm gonna let 'em twist in the wind." I suppose part of it is that it fundamentally makes me feel "useful" to help someone, and I like feeling "useful.")

* I will say I hope that if I am ever in a situation where I am told to "slow walk" stuff, or be unwelcoming, or whatever, to someone who is part of a particular group, that I am brave enough to say "Well, if this messes up my job and I find myself unemployed, so be it" and do what I know to be right anyway. (I don't even care about subtexts of "you will be looked on favorably by powers that be if you do this" because I am often not good at picking up on those kinds of subtexts anyway, if it's something that runs counter to my inclination and upbringing)

(And I hate that I have to even contemplate these things....but I've heard stuff)

* Then again, I also was kind of a bystander-party in an online fight about stuff and I always feel a little bad about it. Someone was being intentionally abrasive but it's also someone I've known in the past to cry "victim!" when they get called out on their abrasiveness, so....I just walked away.

And I don't know. I know the old saying "All that is required for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing" but on the other hand, this isn't really evil so much as it is mild unpleasantness....but yes. I get tired of being called on to smooth and soothe and peacemake at times, because it seems in too many of the cases, the people you're trying to separate and calm down wind up turning on you.

I dunno. People. I can't live with 'em but I get awfully weird if I spend too much time without them.

* I was thinking today for some reason about HGTV, I forget why.....oh, I referred to "The Big Fun Crafty Show," a kids' competition show on what used to be Sprout. And I noted that it was neither as fun nor as crafty as I had hoped....and I was also thinking about how a lot of those televised "craft" shows involve a lot of quick-and-dirty techniques (like gluing up hems on curtains instead of sewing them) which might make for a good quick short-lived product, but you're probably going to have to replace it in six months or so when it starts looking tatty. And, I don't know. I don't have the kind of money to throw around on curtain-sized pieces of fabric very often, and hanging the things is enough of a pain, and....well, I'd rather use "best practices" even if they take longer.

And two other thoughts here:

- I wish my cable lineup had a "slow TV" channel. I have heard of such a thing existing in Scandinavia, where they do stuff like long, slow-paced documentaries on (say) sheep-to-sweater production or similar things.

- Also, HGTV has changed A LOT from when I first started watching it. Back in the day (the late 90s/early 00s), it had a lot of DIY shows. I think they even ran Alex Anderson's quilt show for a while, and Carol Duvall (whom I remember from a craft letter she used to publish AGES ago, and which my mom subscribed to). And Christopher Lowell, who had a very self-consciously "hyper interior designer" persona for his show, but at least he was entertaining and seemed very positive. But now, it seems it's mostly "rich people looking to buy a house" or even "rich people looking to buy a vacation house in addition to the house they already have" and.....that's not as fun. It is funny how things shifted from "Hey, take an old wooden orange crate and do some stuff to it and look! You have a storage ottoman for only a few bucks!" to "Here's a couple with a combined income of $400,000 arguing over whether they can bear to live in a house with only three bathrooms" and....given how squeezed the middle class supposedly is...it seems really strange to me. Or is this all "aspirational," and people actually enjoy watching snipey couples with far more money than they'll ever have looking at fancy houses in places where they'll never live?

(I will admit I like "Stone House Revival," on DIY, even though I recognize the people owning the said stone houses must be ridiculously wealthy, but at least there's a historical angle to it and..... the host is kinda hunky and fun to watch)

But yeah. I suspect that there's a market for a craft-based channel, though it does seem a lot of the publishers of craft books/magazines have gone the webcasting route instead. (And so it's fragmented, and you have to go out and find it, and in some cases pay a separate subscription fee)

* Current state of the Barbie "shelf" (really my piano lid):

all the barbies

Left to right: Gabby, Clawdeen, Rapunzel, Diana (in back with sword raised), Cinnamon, Sam.

I don't think I ever photographed Sam (Samantha) yet, she's the newest one - the Made to Move yoga doll with brownish hair in a bun and a slightly tanner skin tone.

(Confession: I happened across the African-American one - who has slightly darker skin than Gabby - for "list price" (about $16) on Amazon and she's on her way to me now. I love the poseable dolls.. She is tentatively named either Lavinia or Audrey, depending on what name she "looks more like" when I get her out of the box.)

And I probably need to invest in a couple doll stands so I can pose some of them standing up - they don't stand on their own so I have to pose them seated. (Diana came with a stand)

Here's a closer view of Sam, with incidental Cinnamon:

Samantha

I printed off a bunch of free patterns (both sewn and knitted) for clothes and if I can motivate myself once I finish a few of the other things I have going on, I might have a stab at making some of my own clothes for them, too. (I also bought a "Christmas Sweater" pattern from Ravelry, and if I can get my act together - and can find some oddments of inexpensive dk weight yarn) - I might make them all Ugly Christmas Sweaters just for fun)

* I need to go back to my office tomorrow and do more work but I really don't want to because (a) this is the last full week I have off (the 15th is the start of all the meetings) and (b) I didn't have quite as much relaxation and fun as I wanted this weekend. Tentatively I'm considering going to Whitesboro Friday (the last chance for a while on a day that Lovejoy's is serving lunch) but I still haven't decided. I also want to start another quilt top, and I've got several knitting projects in various degrees of being stalled out, and.....Wednesday will be cut up in two with the noon meeting, and Tuesday (bells) and Thursday (piano) afternoons I have things.....Maybe I take Monday and Tuesday of next week (the 13th and 14th) off and stay home and sew....

It's funny, at a lot of points it felt like the summer was dragging along and I was in kind of a "Groundhog Day" situation where I went into my office and read ecology or biostats or updated lecture material, and I was alone far too much, but at the same time it feels like it moved really fast now.