Tuesday, October 23, 2018

It's still October

I find this amazing. This month has felt about four months long to me. I think part of it is the intensive teaching (four classes is no joke) and lots of other stuff going on in my life (Bell choir, which is an enjoyable thing; doing a reception for a memorial service which wasn't, so much). I also have people who just have *problems* in my classes. Sometimes problems of their own creation (decide they don't need to come to class, earn a 40% on the exam, wonder what they can do to fix that), sometimes not (car trouble, problems on the job*)

(* One of the things about our students: most of them have to work, many of them are in parlous finances. I know a lot of them drive old cars that tend to break down. I sigh very heavily when I read some thinkpiece about coddled overprotected college students)

Also the campaign ads. I would love for them to stop. If I ran the world, there would be no campaign ads within a week of the election: call it the Dead Week Rule.

(Then again: if I ran the world, there would be no campaign ads, because I'd be Benevolent Dictatrix for Life, and you wouldn't need to have elections)

Yeah. Between the Cruz/O'Rourke race in Texas, and the Edmonson/Stitt race here, I'm getting allllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll the ugly campaign ads. (And yes, "It's your fault for still watching broadcast tv," I guess, except I have heard of people getting stuck with the ads on YouTube as well)

I will welcome the ads for whatever dumb "Buy it for Christmas!" things when they show up (do they still show Chia Pet and Clapper ads? When I was a kid, you knew Christmas was on the way when you saw ads for those, and for the compilation-albums of Christmas music - which is a long-gone thing, I guess, with Spotify and the like).

Actually, one of the reasons I like cartoons is that toy ads are a lot more fun than campaign ads. Did you know they're bringing back Gak yet again?

And Standard Time. I know people disagree with me on this and that's fine, but: driving to work at 7 am and having it feel like it's midnight sucks rocks. I prefer having it get dark as I'm going home for the day rather than when I'm driving to work. (Though I guess I'll have to figure out a time for the one last lawn mowing I will apparently have to do....).

I will welcome Standard Time back. Even though it means an end to piano lessons for the year (we have one lesson left on the current set I paid for; that is this week. Then it's no lessons until March, but okay, I can work on my own....and I confess, then I feel like I can take the occasional day of not-practicing if I'm busy or don't feel like it).

I am also ready for it to be cooler on a regular basis - for it to be nice to wear my sweaters. And to work on warm things.

I figured out the fix to the "I couldn't pick up enough stitches on the first go" last night on Harvest, so I should be able to just happily motor away on that while invigilating it this week. I may even get up to the point of dividing for the sleeves! (and I brought stitch holders in my knitting bag just in case).

I also have several blanket kits I want to start - one from a couple birthdays ago that was like the last gasp of Patternworks (RIP). And the crocheted throws. And I also - I confess - bought a new-to-me acrylic (Yes, I know, but: when you live in Bug Country you....I don't know, I can't make a "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" joke out of that, but....housewares are better made out of synthetics in Bug Country). It's called "Hygge" (yes, I know) and it's a pretty purple color they call "Wisteria," and it has a free pattern on the ball band for a blanket and I had a coupon at JoAnn's so....I got it.

I know it takes me forever to finish something like that. I find a lot of times when I buy yarn or fabric it's not so much "I am going to start this right away" but "I dream of a time when I have time to make this" - and sometimes, it's not so much the THING that I want, but the lifestyle it suggests. (That's why I like the Interweave Press books and magazines: all the knitwear is staged with what you can imagine as a backstory: I wish I were that young woman who lived in a "cool" neighborhood where I had time every morning to stop in the local coffee shop and work the daily newspaper crossword over a coffee and croissant. I wish I were part of the family going apple picking and laughing. I wish I had some handsome dude who knew how to play guitar smiling at me from across the room while I knit on a sweater....) And yeah, I'm susceptible enough to believe in some level of sympathetic magic: maybe if I knit these fingerless mitts, some time in the future there WILL be a cool coffee shop in my neighborhood. Or maybe if I make this blanket I can spend evenings curled up under it reading...

But I've told myself I must first (a) Finish a thing or two and (b) make the mitts for the AAUW gift exchange. (At least I don't have to worry about knitting deadlines for any other project, though my niece did - sigh - commission me to knit her an 8" long blue stuffed toy cat, and I"m not sure when I find time for THAT).

Monday, October 22, 2018

owie ow ow

I must have pulled my right tricep. It still hurts. Tylenol made it better enough to do bell choir but I think a warm bath before bed and a day off from exercise is good.

I also think I tweaked my bad collarbone area (I probably broke it in a fall back in 2013, but I was too stubborn to go to the doctor; later, my dad's PT guy diagnosed me based on some weakness on that side and he also (with my permission) put his hand on my collarbone area and said he could feel when I moved the arm that it had probably been broken at some point)

And I have HIVES again. Womp womp. Every time I think "Oh, thank God, am I *finally* done with this?" in the coming weeks I wind up with another attack. (No idea what triggered this. Maybe mold from all the rain. It's not BAD but my legs do itch, and my back itches and was itching while I worked out - which is why I tweaked my shoulder, trying to reach around to scratch).

I know allergens are bad now; I went to that meeting and one of my colleagues was there and I heard him sneeze at least five times (he has a very distinctive, and very loud, sneeze).

The good news is, my benefits should still be cheap to me - because it's just me and I don't want the absolute creme de la creme health-insurance plan (with the super-low deductible), the uni will be willing to pay my premiums. (I realize this is really unusual and I am very lucky). I do pay in for dental and eyecare, but both of those are cheap, especially compared to the care a person can get when one has a dental or eye emergency.

I don't need extra life insurance; the university-supplied stuff is quite generous and as I don't have kids or a spouse depending on me...all I'd really need (God forbid) is enough to bury me with. (I have my brother down as beneficiary; he is the closest relative likely to be alive when I croak and I have no squabbles with him so I am fine with him getting that money. If he's gone and I'm still around, I'll probably switch it out to my niece, or, failing that, see if it could go to a charity).

They are changing up the long-term care plan and I may just stay (and pay out of post-tax dollars) with the the plan we used to have; we can do that. The new plan seems more like "If you're really sick but are going to get better we will pay" and I want something like the old one where "you get put in a slightly nicer home if you have this." 'Cos I have savings to cover very short-term things....it's a long-term disability I'd be concerned with, with either being able to pay someone to (say) drive me places if I were to go blind, or come to my house and do the stuff I can't, or have some kind of not-quite-so-terrible assisted living. (And I hate that I have to consider this, but....yeah. Seeing what my dad went through this fall and how preferable home care is to being in a place...

I also won a door prize. A cloth bag (can be used for shopping) full of "healthy treats" but they are all (a) hard and crunchy or (b) containing peanuts or peanut butter, so I am going to take them over to the building tomorrow and leave them in the breakroom for those who CAN eat them, I know they'll be used. (And I *did* get a "quick healthy cooking cookbook" in there which looks like it might have some good stuff.....and also a "smart" water bottle that will apparently connect to the Internet of Stuff and I'm not sure I'd do that even IF I had a smartphone....then again, maybe I hang on to it and give it to my brother for Christmas, he does smartphone stuff and he also trains for biking and running....I like my Sigg bottles just fine).

I guess I'm glad I went today. It was LONG and there were a lot of complaints-disguised-as-questions but at least it's done and tomorrow I can just come home to grade the exams I give and not worry about going back out....

Anyway, now to look at Harvest and see if I can knock the picked-up area into shape enough to take it to knit on tomorrow while I invigilate.

Monday afternoon things

* My exams for later this week (I give one tomorrow, one Thursday, one Friday) are all written. So I guess maybe I go to the informational meeting about the benefits changes this afternoon. Which then buys me tomorrow afternoon off, when I could probably grade....

they're doing  a LOT of changes; normally I don't bother with the informational meetings because I tend to do the lowest-level stuff they have; the only real add-on (other than my TIAA account) is dental insurance, which has more than paid for itself over the years (three crowns and a filling replaced in the time I've had it, plus a mouthguard, plus the regular prophylactic* care)

(*Yes, I giggle like a 12 year old at that word, though I wonder how many of today's 12 year olds know that as the "polite word" for a condom?)

* I think I pulled my right tricep, either in yesterday's dvd workout (which seems more likely as there's a tough arm exercise in there) or using the cross-country skiier this morning. I am in general just kind of sore, I don't know why, and I don't like that. I suppose this is what being 50 is like but part of the reason I work out is to hurt LESS the rest of the time.

* I mostly worked on an older project - I think it was from either the fall or Holiday 2017 Knit Simple - a big moss-stitch scarf out of a super bulky yarn. I had a few skeins of Rowan's "Baby" in a bright pink that were a long-ago Elann purchase, and I dug those out and started it probably a year ago. Never got very far but I decided that this fall and winter will be about finishing the stuff I started and never finished. I added about 40 rows to it over the weekend (mostly on Sunday). I'm not sure if I'll keep it or wind up giving it away. I have a lot of scarves...

* I finished watching the first season of "The Good Place," including the big plot twist (which I already kinda knew about).

I will say "The Medium Place" is a lot less-good than I'd expect a Medium Place to be. (Also, the idea of being there all by yourself - even as an introvert, I'd find that kind of hellish. Especially if you only get mediocre books to read).

I found myself thinking: which of those characters (who were condemned - yes, that's the plot twist - for different things) was I most like?

Eleanor seems like she's selfish and also kind of malicious/hateful towards people. Jason is merely selfish through self-centeredness; he's either so dumb or has fried his brain with so many chemicals that he can't think beyond his nose. I don't think I'm like either of those, because I don't tend to be self-centered except when I'm *really* overwhelmed and start seeing the random dumb things that happen as aimed at me and happening precisely to thwart or upset me.

Chidi - well, he's still my favorite, but I don't think I have quite the level of indecisiveness-through-ethical-dilemma he does. SOMETIMES I worry about "what is the best path here" but I don't, for example, agonize over which soup at the restaurant is going to have the least-harmful impact on the environment. I may sometimes make people around me miserable but it's not through being indecisive.

Tahani? Yeah, I kinda feel her. I want to be loved. I want to feel like what I am doing is good and...I admit, on some level, that people know it's me doing that good. And yeah, that's why she ultimately wound up in The Bad Place, because her motivations were bad.

(I admit, there are a number of things in the theology of the show I would quibble with, and this is one: your motivations have to be more pure than the actual good you do? That's an awfully high standard. I mean, yes, my other big theological quibble from my own theological background is that *no human is good enough on his or her own to make it to 'The Good Place'* but the idea that less-than-pure motives negates a good action....bothers me).

But yeah. Tehani is perhaps my least-favorite of the four but that may be because in some ways I'm most like her. (I am not tall and hot and perfect, alas). But I do understand that neediness and that "notice me! please notice me! Tell me I'm good!" mentality.

(And yes. As dumb as he is, as self-centered as he is, there's something oddly slightly endearing about Jason. Once in a while he'll get off a bit of truly Gracie Allen-inspired illogic, and that saves him for me than just "dumb wannabee-criminal type")

Eleanor I have a hard time with because of the casual cruelty she seemed to have been capable of during her life; I am much more likely to either (a) ignore people I'm angry with or (b) be really direct with them if I care about them enough to say "Look, I'm angry with you but I still want to have a relationship with you, so here's the problem" - I don't do passive-aggression. And just the random annoying people out in public, like the pamphleteers or the people with clipboards, it's just easier to walk by fast and say "sorry not interested" instead of coming up with an insult.

* I do need to look at the Harvest cardigan and fix up some problems with the stitch pick-ups; I might bring that tomorrow to work on while I invigilate.

* Am sort of tired today despite sleeping a solid 7 hours last night. I think it's the last gasp of the ragweed out there. I also have lots of people in my classes having lots of problems and I find that kind of thing kind of exhausting to deal with.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

(Read a BBC story about a man who lost his wife to sepsis and drew comics to try to heal about it, so am sad now)

Changing it out

I had put Pacifica "Stardust Memories" (which is supposed to be a light gray with sparkles) on my fingernails Thursday night but I think I'm gonna remove it and replace it with "Hey Girl, Hey" (which is just a clear with v. small holographic glitter) because the polish looks blue to me and it bugs me:

\Yeah. I once said I "couldn't do" blue nails and I think I stand by that. (Or green, for that matter).

It looked OK with what I wore to church - a white blouse and a faded-denim skirt and one of my big pieces of turquoise jewelry (Yes, Navajo-artist made, in case you were wondering). A couple people said I looked "cute" which surprised me as the skirt is v. old and the blouse isn't that new either, and the whole ensemble was kind of plain. But whatever.

I did wind up serving at the table; one of the people scheduled for today was just absent. Two of our number will be off most of November (one for surgery, one for....hunting season) and I will be at the table a lot then so I admit I was slightly nettled that I had to today. I came up with a prayer on short notice but I know there will be a day when I cannot, and...well, I hope people are at least forgiving.

Sometimes things just feel a little....unreciprocal to me, you know? I get that I have the relative "privilege" of good health and a job that doesn't make me work on Sundays and all, but....I do get tired of being called on a lot.

Mike did notice, I think - he hugged me this morning (a bit more tightly than in recent weeks) and whispered in my ear "Thank you for everything you do" so yeah, but...I wish there were more people willing to step up. (And I do need to note that Mike IS one of the people who is willing to "step up" and carry a bigger burden of volunteer work)

I need to change out the polish and work more on the current project (I pulled out the superbulky-weight moss stitch scarf, on the grounds that I needed to finish it SOMETIME) and maybe wind off some yarn for future projects and I should probably do the dvd workout once my lunch settles a bit more....

Back to work (and grading, especially grading) tomorrow.

Edited to add:

Yeah, this is better. This looks more like me:

heh. It looks kind of like Christmas glitter and now I remember, when I was at JoAnn's on Friday, they had one aisle where the left half was all Halloween stuff and the right half was all Christmas stuff and I thought to myself "This is where, if you had a cell phone camera, you'd take a photo and tag it "The Great Divide""

(Because people seem to either go all-out for Halloween or Christmas. I admit I am unabashedly #TeamChristmas (The most I do for Halloween is put up a couple of orange things and hand out candy if there are trick or treaters).)

I do wish Pacifica made some kind of a pink topcoat that was a bit more strongly colored than Unicorn Horn, but that wasn't an "insipid" pink (there is one - called Daydreamer or some such - but it's too pale and always looks uneven) that I could use. I do prefer a topcoat-like thing as it doesn't show so much if it gets chipped, and given how much I have to use my hands at work, it WILL get chipped.

(I do think nail polish is partly a signifier of "I don't have to do hard manual work")

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Thinking about things

Today was that memorial service I alluded to.

The woman's grown son (Heh, grown: he's probably at least 10 years older than I am, maybe even more than that, given that she and her husband married in 1954) made some comment about how the things towards the end of her life weren't happy (and that was all he said about it; I did notice the person who was responsible for a lot of the issues was not there), he also talked about a lot of happy memories of her.

The minister - not our minister, who had a commitment he couldn't get out of on short notice, and anyway, there was a long-time retired Presbyterian minister who had been a long time family friend, and our current minister hadn't really known her, so...it probably worked out for the best the R. did the service instead.

He talked about a lot of things, but one thing he emphasized was the importance of how church was "there" for each other, and yes, that's true. That's one of the big reasons I belong even through all the problems we've suffered, and the occasional dealing with a difficult person....I don't think I'd be nearly as happy, down here alone, without family, if I didn't have some group like that. I get on well with my colleagues but we don't really *socialize* together, and finding other groups are hard....most of the women my age, frankly are dealing with teen or tween kids and are caught up in that, or are caring for aging parents (thank God, so far, that is not my lot).

The five or six of us "church ladies" sat on the back row - as we always do in cases like this, regardless of whether it's a happy occasion like a potluck or a concert-with-reception, or a sadder one like a funeral with a lunch or reception afterward - so we can duck out right before the end and make sure everything's ready to go.

It's one of those things we do. It's almost always the same small group of us - there are maybe eight or ten women in the church who do this, whoever is available on a given day. I'm often there (always if it's a weekend or early-evening thing). I don't know. In the grand scheme of things it is a small thing but it also feels like something I *can* do that helps on some level. I know family members, when we served family lunch after a funeral, have commented on how it made things easier (and yes, I remember that from the one big family funeral - my maternal grandmother - that I attended).

We laughed and joked in the kitchen, and tested nibbles of the different things people had brought. (I did the jam bars, which are my "thing" and are the recipe I always get asked to make when there's some kind of reception. It's funny how we all more or less have "things" - recipes that come out well, are reliable, that people like, and so we make them.). And yet, yes, there was an edge to it. Periodically a couple of the women who had known the family longer than I had would go off in a knot and talk, hashing over what all happened.

I don't know. I don't know most of the people involved (I really only knew the woman and her husband) so I didn't join in. Also, a lot of the time, when stuff like this happens, I just don't have it in me to "drag" the person who did wrong; I may just shake my head sadly and say that it's a bad situation or something, but I'd rather focus on what I'm doing in the here and now. I'd rather move on than dwell on sad stuff that I can't do anything to fix.

It's one of those things I think I find uncomfortable because I am pretty close to my family and I can't quite imagine doing something like that. And I've lost some of my extended family - lots of older cousins, all my grandparents, all my aunts on one side - down through the years, and I'd love to have the family back and intact even though I know that's not possible.

Though I do also know sometimes when money gets involved things get strained in family. (And I confess: I hope my father lives a good number of years yet, and while I know he's made arrangements so both my brother and I will be helped...well, I don't look forward to the eventual divvying up of my parents' possessions. The only thing I might consider actually fighting for, if it came to that, was the treadle sewing machine that came from my mom's mom. My mom knows I want it, and my brother and sister-in-law know that. I doubt they'd try to argue for it.  And even if they want all the other furniture, I want that thing. There are a couple other things - an old rocking chair, the big old kitchen table - that I wouldn't turn down if I were offered them, but...yeah. I hope it's a while yet before it comes to that).

I found myself wondering if it was worse to have your family all gone, or to be estranged from them. I tend to think estrangement would be worse, though then again there is the hope of rapprochement in cases of estrangement....doesn't tend to happen often, though, based on what I've seen.

I think things like this make me extra melancholy these days (especially after my dad spending a week or so in the hospital, and several more in a rehab center): the woman who died was almost to-the-day two years older than my mother is.

I admit part of me, hearing what I heard of the family woes, wants to go into snarky 16-year-old mode and make stupid Tumblr-style jokes like "A family can sometimes be a single woman and 35 stuffed-toy unicorns" but I don't even quite have it in me to make cynical jokes to cover up my discomfort over the whole thing.

I dunno. I'm also thinking about the Sunday school lesson which I wrote (well, drawing heavily from a lesson over the same text that I used six or seven years ago; the current composition of my class is different from what it was then so it won't be a re-run). About Abraham and Sarah and having a child very late in life and the fundamental lesson being not to give up hope, because even late in life good things can happen for you and....I don't know. I want to believe that, that unlike what Fitzgerald or whoever it was said, American life DOES have a second act, and that maybe something good will happen in the future (instead of me just going about the same-old, same-old, which really, I do suppose I should be grateful for: solid employment and reasonable health, a little time to do what I want....but some days I admit it feels a little stale and I think some of my distress this fall has been "So, okay. I'm nearly 50 and this is all the impact I've made on the world?"). But yet, at the same time - sitting on the back pew with the other "church ladies," and realizing how doing stuff like this - being there to feed bereaved people, to provide a few minutes of casual fellowship before people go off and, in some cases, maybe never see each other again - is important to me and I think it's valuable, but it's something the world itself literally does not value at all. I once commented that some of my dislike of the post-tenure-review process is that a lot of the things most important to me, a lot of the "service" I do, doesn't matter in their checklist. (I don't even put the church stuff I do down, though I suspect I could include "serving on the Wesley Center board" seeing as that's a university-affiliated thing).

And that's the thing. How do you live when you have to fit a particular checklist, but the things important to you are not on the checklist, and some of the things on it are things that aren't important to you or all that desirable for you to do? And I do think there's something slightly....corrosive isn't quite the right word but it's close....about "hearing" on a regular basis that the things you do that are important to you aren't valuable, not in the world's eyes, and I'm not quite strong enough to say "forget the world, then" because I also have to live in it, and I can't quite deal with every PTR from now until I retire having something on it where I'm not "living up to potential" or some darn thing.

I suppose the answer is to stop caring about what other people think, but as I'm nearly 50 and haven't learned that yet, I doubt I will.

I dunno. I knew when I went into my career I'd never win a Nobel Prize or any darn thing like that but I admit some days I wish I had less of a feeling that what I am doing has been so very....forgettable.

Edited to add: a related thought, based on something I commented on on Twitter: there was a thread about Elijah Parish Lovejoy, an abolitionist who was fundamentally martyred for his beliefs, and the person starting the thread commented that "outside of Lincoln and John Brown, you don't hear too much about individual white abolitionists" and yes, maybe that's true. (Lincoln gets press because he was President, of course, and John Brown, I'd argue, because of the sensationalism surrounding him - his "burn it all down" mentality and the fact that some might even go so far as to call him a terrorist in his techniques*)

(*Side fact: the town where I grew up more or less claims Brown as one of their own even if he was actually born in Connecticut. I am not sure how I feel about Brown; the education I got about him in school history mostly glossed over the more violent stuff he did, and I generally think that violence is not the best way of achieving your ends, now.)

But it occurs to me: I recently learned that "Well-behaved women seldom make history" is NOT the "don't follow social niceties, or you will be forgotten" rallying cry that it was used as when I was in college, but perhaps more a lament that people who mostly lived their lives within the bounds of the law but worked to change injustices rather than overthrow the entire system are often glossed over in favor of the flashier or more violent types and....yes.

Perhaps, I opined, the reason many abolitionists are unheard of today is that they were either women, people of strong religious conviction*, or both.

(*Many, many, many members of what might now be called Mainline Denominations were pretty strongly abolitionist and a lot of abolitionist leaders were also ministers)

And so maybe, yes: maybe you can still do what is right and good but not do it in a flashy way, and even if the World ignores it, it still helps, and what is important is not the getting-noticed, but the actual helping. (Eleanor Shellstrop couldn't earn 'good points" when she was doing good in order to earn them; the good had to be selflessly motivated).

I don't know, though I will note it's frustrating when "job performance" and "things I do that are genuinely important to me" don't have more overlap.

Friday, October 19, 2018

My day out

It was a long day (I left just after 9 am, and got back around 4) but I went pretty much everywhere I wanted to go, despite the rain.

It was bad some times. One of the issues with the rain we get here is that it can go from "light rain" to "you can barely see the road heavy rain" in a matter of a few hundred feet or a few tens of seconds (depending). So for a while, the driving would not be so bad, but then it would be BAD for a while.

If I had been more sensible, I probably would have stayed home. Then again, I got there safely and back here safely, so it's all good. But I would have preferred it didn't rain. 

First stop was Whitesboro, and the yarn shop, for its "Everything is at least 20% off" sale (I got two sock yarns at 50% off, so less than $15 for a skein of wool sock yarn - one will be used to make a pair of fingerless mitts for the AAUW gift exchange).

And I found yarn that was almost "caution yellow" in color (and dk weight), so I can make the "Soft Hat" I linked to earlier. That idea delights me and actually, for a fall/winter field hat, caution yellow is probably a good color:

yarn close up
That's Dream In Color's dk in the color "Pickleball" - it's really a green, but it's an extremely yellowish green and to my eyes, it's close enough to "caution yellow."
I also got, as you can see, some laceweight (a Cascade alpaca blend) for that shawl (gonna make it bigger and wider; I got twice as much yarn as the pattern calls for). And some just-pretty sock yarn.
You can also see the 50% off yarns here:
An Opal (which will become the mitts) and an Aurora with lots of pink to eventually be socks for me.
I also went to the quilt shop next door but didn't buy a lot; I haven't really been working much on quilts lately. I did buy a sewing-machine organizer thing as part of my mom's Christmas gift - you can use it to organize scissors and tools and crochet hooks and the like. I also got a couple yards of a green print with artichokes; I have a vague plan of making a tablecloth of it, it's a very pretty fabric.
I also went to Lovejoy's for lunch, and to my delight, they had Quiche Lorraine (the last few times I'd been down there, the quiche-of-the-day was Southwestern, which has a couple things I don't like in it). So I had a cup of blackcurrant tea and a piece of quiche, and a "half serving" of chocolate bread pudding for dessert. And it was always very nice and very pleasant and the people there are friendly. 
(I also love the yarn shop because the owners are SO friendly and nice; it's a fun place to shop in part because of that.)
I bought a "paint your own rubber duck" kit for my niece - apparently it is waterproof after the paint dries and it seems like something she would enjoy.
I then headed back to Sherman on 56. I asked the owners of the yarn shop if they knew of flooding on it. They said as of yesterday there wasn't any. But I was careful. (At a couple points it felt like I was hydroplaning so I eased up on the gas pedal until it felt back under control).
I went to JoAnn's and got a few things (including a totally self-indulgent book of "Unofficial Harry Potter Crafts" - fandom, yay. I also have a Moomin craft book on order, it's supposed to come some time next week). And to the Ulta, to pick up a few things and I also got a pair of silly sequinned penguin-face slippers for my sister-in-law, as part of her Christmas gift. 
And another totally indulgent thing, from the Target, for myself:

Squirrel Girl! A Marvel superheroine, I admit I don't know a *lot* about her, but she's a cute doll and I kind of wanted one after seeing some of the doll blogs showing her. (I may have to get some Squirrel Girl comics and read them). And there's the Harry Potter crafts book. And some socks from the yarn shop that say "Go away I'm introverting"

And then to the bookstore. Found the newest available issue of "Simply Knitting" (which is becoming increasingly hard to find around here and that displeases me and I'm wondering if I just bite the bullet and pay the high rates to get a subscription from Britain...)

And I looked for a poetry anthology for my niece.

They had literally one variety in the kids' section, but it seems pretty perfect for her:

It's HUGE. It has a nature-themed poem (appropriate for kids, but it's the sort of book that an adult could also enjoy, so I don't think she'll outgrow it) for every day of the year, and it has lovely illustrations. And the paper is thick and nice and high quality and just in general it feels like a good solid "real" book - and my niece loves animals and nature, so of course it had to be. (You can see the rubber duck next to it). 
I also found a couple "practical" items (including a nice glass water bottle for keeping beside the bed; he often needs water late at night) for my dad, who is hard to buy for. I still need to figure out something more for my sister-in-law and something for my brother, but I made a good dent on Christmas shopping today, and I'm very pleased at finding this book for my niece. 
I also went to the grocery store, so I have food ahead for the week: one thing I plan to do is the "skillet macaroni and cheese" I've done before, and I have spinach ahead for sauteed spinach (finally the "baby" spinach is looking "baby" again; often during the summer it seems big and coarse.)
I did see a bad accident (well, the aftermath of it) coming back - it's on the evening news now. Apparently no one was seriously injured, though. (I saw it as I drove past. I couldn't quite see what had happened, so I just said a quick prayer that everyone involved was going to be OK and kept going). Three cars were involved; it happened on one of the onramps on to 75. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Jam bar recipe

Regular commenter (and Twitter follower) Purlewe asked for my jam bar recipe, so here it is. I'm going to give the amounts for a 9 x 9 inch pan; if you double it it overflows a 9 x 13 pan and would probably fit better in a 10 x 15 pan. (The pan needs to have a rim high enough to make an edge - the recommended pan for a single batch is 9 x 9 x 2.

For a single batch:

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (REALLY finely chopped is better. I usually use pecans)

Mix those in a bowl.

Soften 3/4 cup butter (They suggest you can sub margarine, but don't do it: much of the flavor of these comes from the butter)

Mix it with 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon shredded lemon peel. (You can use the dried "spice rack" kind; I often do, but use a little more then)

Add the flour mixture and mush it around until it's all mixed. Press about TWO THIRDS of the flour-butter mix into the pan. (I usually grease the pan though that's probably not necessary given all the butter)

Then, top it with 3/4 cup of your choice of preserves. I prefer seedless raspberry but apricot is also very good.

With the leftover flour-butter mixture, add 1 Tablespoon more flour and mix to form a crumble, and drop it on the top of the jam.

Bake for 25-30 minutes (until the crumbs are just brown) at 375 degrees. I like to score the bars when they first come out and then cut them apart after they cool - they are tender and can be hard to cut (the dough gets brittle when it's cool).

They also suggest you can do three-way bars by covering 1/3 of the base with 1/4 cup each of different jams, but I've never tried that.

It's my Friday

Yeah, today is my Friday because tomorrow is assessment testing, and I am not on-tap to have to do anything. And extra good: I can leave today any time now, because all the data from the cricket lab have been collected - several of the students in that class are also in my morning class today, and we ran short, so they went in after class and took care of all of it, even cleaned up.

And I'm kind of proud of them for stepping up and doing all of it. I said "I'll be here until 3 today" by which I REALLY meant "if you guys don't do this by 3 I'll have to" but now I don't. (I also posted a note on the class webpage in case anyone was going to drive in here to do it so they won't now). And it looks like we might have gotten interesting results, so maybe it was worth the effort and little bit of cash on my part (And no, I have not heard from the corporate office yet, nor do I expect to)

But now....now I am done for three days. (Honestly: if I could have a three-day weekend every week, I'd be reasonably content to work longer hours during the other four days. One day for running errands, one day for fun, and a full day for Sabbath (though my Sabbath typically also includes some mild fun in the form of reading or knitting or sewing)).

I do need to run to the bank. My plan is to get cash out of savings to fund this trip. (I know, but....I will have some expenses coming up. I don't know if I mentioned it but I "met" (over the phone) the owner of the house to the south of me. He and his wife live in Colorado; it was his childhood home, they rent it out. After a string of bad renters (the last few have been merely noisy but a number of years ago one was being sought by the FBI - the agent actually gave me his card and everything and told me that if I saw them at home, to call him. I never DID see the people after that, so....) they are fixing up the place to try to get better renters. Which includes the shared side of the garage being painted, and he wanted me to go halfsies. It will cost about $165, which seems eminently reasonable and I'm going to hire the painter to do some repairs and work on the REST of my garage - yes, I want to side it eventually but that might not be for a few years yet). Also I have to get the tree-trimmers out this fall and that will get pricey.)

So anyway. I want to keep the more-liquid checking account higher so I can take care of that as needed.

But yeah. I've decided I do "deserve" (FSVO "deserve"*) the big Toblerone trip to Whitesboro so I am going. (Saturday they are having a Peanut Festival, which I'd rather avoid - I don't like crowds and I'm bordering on a peanut allergy now so there's not much I'd be able to eat at that). So Friday will be the day. The yarn shop is even having a "Rhinebeck Consolation Sale" for those of us who never get to go to Rhinebeck...

(*For we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, so we don't really DESERVE anything all that good, arguably. And yes, I've maybe become a bit more Calvinist in the past few years than I once was)

I'm looking at my Ravelry patterns recently acquired for ideas....maybe get a small amount (440 yards of laceweight IS small) of laceweight for The Knoll Shawl (Or maybe I get more and make a wider/longer shawl - it looks like an easily-customized pattern - because I have broad shoulders and require a bigger shawl).

Or the new Knit Simple (this being the US version, the replacement for Family Circle Easy Knitting, which went by the unfortunate acronym FCEK) has a shawl that takes three balls of Kidsilk Haze or comparable. (I can't remember if Quixotic still sells Rowan or not but if they do....I might get some of that).

Or hats: there are two slightly-goofy hat patterns I got copies of:

The Soft Hat which would HAVE to be either blaze-orange or caution yellow, so I'd have to choose colors carefully (I think that was free when I grabbed it! Some designers do that). It takes a dk, so if I can't find what I want at Quixotic, maybe I stop in at Balanced Skein on the way home...

or.... Leatherhead, which mimics the old football helmets from the days of "Concussion? What's a concussion?" It's crocheted and takes 200 yards of a bulky weight....that one might be fun to make, especially if I can find the old "worn leather" color in a yarn.

Yeah, I'm in a better mood now. Part of it is that I am looking at a couple days of relative freedom-to-do-what-I-want but part of it is that classes went more happily today. Turns out one of my Policy and Law students is doing an internship in the very topic our discussion was about, and she had a lot of insight to share with the class. And I got a laugh out of my notoriously-shy intro class; I was talking about how I think "mitosis and meiosis" are "unfortunately named" and went on to say "Well, not 'unfortunately' in the sense that you will giggle at them if you are secretly 12 inside like I am" (which got the laugh, and I'm glad, and if I cover TATA box this year - if the new book has it - I'll have to tell them "This is the unfortunately-named thing I was referring to earlier") but that they are "unfortunately named" because the names have literally no hook to anything we know, and they're similar, so they're incredibly easy to confuse.

(Mitosis comes from the Greek word for "thread," presumably because DNA is threadlike until it condenses down. Meiosis is from the Greek word for "lessening" or "less," I suppose because it reduces the number of chromosomes exactly in half  BUT WITHOUT KNOWING ANCIENT GREEK YOU WOULDN'T KNOW THAT.

I had to look it up. I know a LOT of Latin roots, having been a spelling-bee geek back in the day and from my science background, but much of Greek is, well, Greek to me. (I know a few words of New Testament Greek but they are entirely theologically related....)

I remember when I first started in biology (back around 13 or so) I had a really hard time keeping mitosis and meiosis straight by the names, and I admit, if I were Queen of Everything, I'd rename them to something that made a bit more sense and was not so easily confused...

So anyway now my plans for the rest of the day are:

- get together a quiz and at least part of an exam for early next week
- go to the bank for cash
- maybe do the workout I was too sore to/didn't want to get out of bed for this morning (I did tell myself "you could do this Saturday morning instead" and I still might, but)
- finish piano practice
- relax this evening
- maybe make a shopping list of patterns I might want to seek out yarn for just in case.

I might also go to a few other stores (in Sherman) and see if I can knock out a bit of Christmas shopping, though it's also possible this year will be a "order out of catalogs" year for gifts, too.

I'm thinking of getting a sweatshirt for my mom or sister-in-law, and if I can find a set of Guinness pint glasses (presuming he still partakes, I don't know for sure) get those for my brother. And if I can figure out a good but not horrendously expensive* anthology of poems for kids, get that for my niece along with some small toy. Not sure about my dad but maybe I will 'know it when I see it.'

I might also look at books; most of my family love books (though my dad's eyes are bad enough that he is mostly precluded from reading for fun now.)

(*Folio has a lovely one, but it's like $75, and our spending limit for gifts is $40 or so per person, so....I can't quite justify doing it)

And y'know what? It's NOT too early for me to be thinking of Christmas. It makes me happy. No, I won't be putting my tree up for almost another month, but thinking about gifts for people I love makes me happy, and feels like a more worthwhile use of shopping than just buying for myself is, so I'm gonna do it. And if when I'm out and about I see any decorations out for sale yet, and something attracts me, I'm getting it. This year has been (as I've said of, what, the previous three years?) enough of a tire-fire that turning inward a little and focusing on the sweet, the colorful, the glittery, the bright, and the good has a strong attraction for me. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

So I dunno

I slept very badly last night. Probably stayed up a bit too late for me, and then I couldn't "clear the cache" on my mind to be able to go to sleep. I tried all the mental tricks I knew: telling myself over and over again that I was safe, that I had hours and hours before I had to get up, so I could just relax and sleep. Or praying for every single person I could think of that might need it. Or trying to imagine one of the "alternate houses" - like a Hobbit house, or a light house, or a cabin on the side of a mountain - where I might want to live.

Nothing worked. Oh, I slept eventually, because I had bad dreams (the house next to me catching on fire and me worrying that it would spread to mine, and not being able to get 911 on the phone) and I was cranky when I woke up.

And news of the world is just bad. A couple people I follow on Twitter - who maybe I should mute - shared some alleged details of the death (alleged death? Though I think it's pretty clear he's dead) of that reporter that are just nightmarish and horrifying.

And there was a home-invasion robbery two and a half blocks from me. Granted, there may have been drugs involved and also the victim had left his door unlocked, but still, it's unhappy and unsettling.

And the Kilkenny-cat-i-zation of our culture continues apace.

I know I often say "if the world is going to Hell, I don't have to go with it" or "I don't have to hurry it on its way" but I'm reaching a point of just being so disgusted with how lots of people act that I really do want to withdraw and become a hermit. (But I can't, because you probably have to be independently wealthy these days to be a hermit.)

I dunno. I still feel like there is nothing I can do that makes things better. Maybe I need to settle for "at least you're not making things worse" but I want more than that.

(Man, if this were like a "nice" movie....well, something would happen to restore my faith, or my fairy godmother would show up and show me that I was having a good effect, or something just good and nice would happen to me. But life is more like a horror movie or one of those comedies where the protagonist is just a....what's the word....butt-monkey....instead of the hero.

And I was worrying about that exam I graded Monday, and debating - since there are different forms of the calculation part, should I just take a couple class periods and work through literally every problem on it (21 total) to show people what they did incorrectly? Or what? Is it my fault for not teaching better, or are the students not putting in the work? (Several of the very low-scoring exams had entire swathes left blank; they didn't even TRY.)

I dunno. I totaled them up this morning (there is also an in class portion which I graded more than a week ago but didn't put a number grade on).

Turns out the mean is a 72. And the two lowest-scoring ones, by far, are people who are present about 1/3 of the time. So I don't know. Maybe it's not much worse than previous years? Hard to say.

But it's frustrating to try to write an exam as clearly as you know how to and still have people apparently misunderstand the questions, or just give up and leave them blank. (And they had an entire week to do it. I know being busy and all, but really? Not being able to make a little time each day to work on it, maybe do one problem? And I know none of these were impossible because I solved them myself first)

I have a headache and I confess if I were less-diligent than I am (and hadn't spend $12.25 of my own money on lab supplies yesterday AND YES I AM STILL UNHAPPY ABOUT THAT), I'd just tell my secretary I was sick and go home and go back to bed. (I really probably could use a few more hours of sleep).

I also feel guilty about going to Whitesboro - maybe - on Friday. I need to be saving my money for things like getting my garage painted and getting my trees trimmed (the owner of the house next door called me and asked me about both things. He's going to go half on the painting of the side of the garage we share but the trees are on me. And I need to do that anyway).

Maybe I should just stay home because I'm not good enough to deserve it. I don't know.


- at least lab is set up for this afternoon. I found all the stuff I need. Hopefully it won't take more than about a half-hour to set up, provided everyone pulls their weight. And then they can come in and score the results tomorrow (or, dammit, if people don't? I will before I leave for the day because I'm not gonna let this lab fail)

- Was thinking just now how so much of my life these days seems like "side quests" and honestly I might be happier if life had obvious "XPs" like videogames do. (And I also wonder: has any sadistic soul composed a video game that is nothing BUT pointless side quests, so you grind endlessly for XPs, but never have a boss fight or anything like that? The game could be called "real life" or some such)

- Even though I feel like maybe I don't deserve to go to Whitesboro and shouldn't be spending the money, having to listen to other people cheerily recount their Rhinebeck adventures on social media....well, I'll be a lot grumpier if I DON'T go.

(I never did invest in that CD. Maybe I withdraw a couple hundred dollars from my savings account - that won't break me - and use cash to pay for my purchases? Also I doubt the tree guy would be much more than $1000 and I have enough in  my savings account. Or maybe....no, I'm not gonna ask my parents even though I know they sent a check to my brother and sister in law to help with something. I should be more independent.)

- I need to make myself feel better about those tests. Someone did score a 99% - someone I know is a good student and who has been there every class and sits in the front row and asks questions. And the two lowest scores were, as I said, people who are chronically absent. But it bugs me, and feels like a failure on my part, when someone doesn't even ATTEMPT a test question. Though I have no way of knowing if it was:

- "I have no idea and I never learned this"
- "LOL I don't have time to do this" (Yes, we get a few students about this)
- "I really didn't understand this, she didn't explain it well"
- "I was absent the day this was covered" (I have said, again and again, you cannot learn this stuff from just reading the textbook unless you are a flippin' genius. And even then: you'd have to be smarter and better at stats than I was, and I was kind of a stats-savant in grad school, to be able to learn it from the book.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Blanket cave sought

A blanket cave is even more serious than a blanket fort.

Today was not a good day. For one thing, I'm still unhappy about those exams from yesterday and wondering what I need to do better to get the students up to speed - do I just drop everything and go all the way back to a topic I covered a month ago? And if we don't complete the syllabus, so be it? And what do I do if the people who NEED to get up to speed on that topic are absent? (As several of them often are?)

I just feel...ineffectual. Like nothing I can do is making things any better.

I had to run out this afternoon to get stuff for the alternate ALTERNATE lab I am doing: it is too wet and the lake is too high for the field lab I originally scheduled. And it's too cold for the soil-invertebrate lab. Okay, fine, I have an antiherbivore compounds lab I can do indoors, except it takes crickets. (And Friday would be the ideal "score the results" day, but we don't have class on Friday: maybe that should have been an omen to me).

So anyway. We FINALLY have a departmental supplies credit card again, after three years (during the bad budget years) of us buying anything "perishable" out of our own pockets (I bought $30 worth of crickets once; after that, I used simulated organisms - beads - for that particular lab. But you can't do an antiherbivore compounds lab with beads)

So anyway. I got the credit card and went out to the fairly new PetSense (which is like the Bootleg Stuff version of PetSmart, I think). Got the crickets bagged up. (Edited for clarity: the worker bagged them up and YES I had told her about the tax exempt card first and she did not indicate it was a problem before she bagged the crickets) I told the worker - apparently the only person present - when I walked in that I had a university credit card that was tax exempt and I had the exemption number.

She said nothing until I reiterated that before paying.

Then she said, "uhhhh....I don't know how to do this."

Years and years ago, the old pet store here charged me tax on crickets, I didn't catch it, and I had to go BACK and undo it and it was a nightmare. So I stood firm.

"This is the tax exempt number."

She said "But only VA tax exempt numbers are valid" (VA? Like Veteran's Administration? Or what?)

I said, no, public schools and churches also have numbers.

She said, "You'll have to come back tomorrow, the manager will be here then."

"I can't do that tomorrow. I am in class all day and the lab I need these for is tomorrow."

I called my secretary. She talked to the person. The person got her to fax the tax exempt stuff. Still no go. No manager was on site. She called him at home: "Only VA numbers are valid."

This is patent BS. Churches have numbers, there are reseller numbers, schools have numbers. Just because only VA individuals (whatever that is) have done tax-exempt with them doesn't mean they're the ONLY ones.

So I was faced with a dilemma: cave, and pay out of my own pocket, or walk out of there with no crickets, cancel lab again and, (in my mind) look like a terrible lazy idiot slacker to my students and someone who doesn't care enough for them to have enough graded labs?

I asked her what they cost.


Oh hell. I dug a $20 out of my wallet. So I'm a bit poorer but at least I have the satisfaction of feeling like I've done everything I can to fulfill my teaching duties.

I've e-mailed - or rather, used the web contact form, there is no e-mail- for the company and my secretary called them (they did not pick up, which tells me they are probably a Business In Trouble - their head office is apparently in Arizona). She also called the state Tax office to complain but said she didn't get anyone who knew what was going on so, whatever.

I'm out $12.25 (there is no mechanism for us getting refunded money we spend like that) but at least I have a lab for tomorrow. But I have a headache and I am upset and unhappy.

And yes, PetSense will be getting exactly zero business from me in the future. I will not be doing cricket-using labs in the future, or if I plan one, it will be at a time when I have the luxury of an hour to go to Sherman to the PetSmart or PetCo.

And at wal-mart - getting the lettuce and a couple other supplies needed - well, at least the checker knew what she was doing but just my luck, I (a) got behind someone whose debit card was not working (he tried five times and then defaulted to a credit card that did work) and (b) Literally every traffic light (four) between wal-mart and campus turned red AS I CAME UP ON IT.

And I had not one but two people pull that "game of chicken" thing at a side street - where they have a stop sign and I am the Cross Traffic [that] Does Not Stop, but they inch up and partway out, trying to scare me into stopping and letting them out first, even though they don't have the right of way and my stopping suddenly might lead to an accident.

They're so [stinking] special; I wish I were special.

Days like this I wonder what supernatural creature I have pissed off.

(And yeah. I feel very sad and overlooked and not-special and like literally nobody gives a crap about me. Intellectually I know that's not true, but emotionally I am feeling kind of beat-up by life right now)

I still need to do the next homeworks for my intro class; let's see how badly the online interface for that is fouled up this afternoon.

Edited to add, a string of Tweets, because I sometimes hate wasting what I think are insights on a more-ephemeral medium than a blog:

Some jerk (I used a less-gentle acronym on Twitter) on the news talking about "hitting back twice as hard" to opponents politically and I am all OH YES LET'S JUST PLAY KILKENNEY CATS UNTIL THERE"S NOTHING LEFT OF HUMANITY BUT A FEW SCRAPS OF FUR AND A TAIL.

(Said jerk is probably Michael Avenetti (sp?) but I don't know him on sight)

The Kilkenny Cats poem, which I seem to remember my grandmother reciting to me when I was a kid:

There once were two cats of Kilkenny,
Each thought there was one cat too many,
So they fought and they fit,
And they scratched and they bit,
Till, excepting their nails
And the tips of their tails,
Instead of two cats, there weren’t any.

There's also a Wikipedia entry. They call the cats "tenacious fighters," but I see it more as a mutually-assured destruction thing: when you are willing to give up your own life to kill/harm your opponent.

I dunno. As someone raised to be gentle and kind and to give people the benefit of the doubt and "give no one back evil for evil," these are hard and confusing times to be alive. And by contrast, the way I was raised: Galatians 5:14-15: "For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other."

So I don't know. I feel like the foundations of....my personality, even....are being shaken by how a lot of people are acting now. And yes, I still feel the way I was raised was the "right" way, that it is better to act out of love of the other than out of hatred, still...I wonder, will I wind up a victim if I keep doing that? How do I protect myself? Or maybe that's the answer, to be a sacrificial lamb in this bad old world and hope that The Good Place really does exist, and that I wind up going there?

I don't know. It seems like I've had the awfulness people can get up to smashed hard in my face in a regular basis and I am very tired of it and would very much like to be a hermit for a while.


My blanket cave will have plenty of unicorns. Cony, the Japanese (Amuse brand plush) unicorn I ordered like six weeks ago, came today. (I'm not complaining - she came all the way from Japan so of course it takes a while).

She is super soft. Her horn is gold cloth! She heals my heart a little today:

I HAVE to put the brakes on stuffed-toy buying for a while; I have far too many and I need to save my money for other things (like getting my trees trimmed back this fall).

Tuesday morning things

* I think one of the reasons I seem to be more susceptible to the slings and arrows of everyday life this fall is reviewing stuff for Policy and Law and being regularly confronted with:
a. Stuff I remember from childhood (and thus, bringing up some of the unhappier memories like being unpopular in school, and also the doom-and-gloom stuff we heard - though I will note, the fact that bald eagles are NOT extinct (despite something I was told in school in the mid 1970s) is good news)

b. Evidence of human unpleasantness: The Elixir Sulfanilamide Tragedy. Sulfa was one of the first antibiotics* and it should have been a miracle drug, except for a batch turned out by the Massengill company - it was dissolved in diethylene glycol, which the operating chemist claimed not to have known was toxic to humans (and no animal testing was done; apparently it is also toxic to mice, which would have been a warning). Apparently they just put some raspberry flavoring and shipped it out.

(*And one I can't take; makes me come out in terrible hives and causes psychological side effects)

A hundred people died as a result. Probably agonizingly as it causes renal failure. The chemist wound up killing himself before he could go to trial; the head of the company made a famously-callous statement: "We have been supplying a legitimate professional demand and not once could have foreseen the unlooked-for results. I do not feel that there was any responsibility on our part."

And yes, it did lead to legislation being passed that hopefully prevented this stuff from happening again (but I guess about 10 years ago there was some evidence of diethylene glycol showing up in imported toothpaste....)

And yeah, also, the news of this morning: being confronted with the phrase "killed and dismembered" (in regards the missing journalist) within five minutes of waking up does not set a cheerful tone for the day.

And I wonder, thinking about the low-level unhappiness I feel reading and teaching about things like the Elixir Sulfanilamide Scandal, how do people who have to teach larger horrors - things like genocides - manage? Or do they have the satisfaction of kids to go home and hug, or the sense that maybe they're able to promote a "never again" message and maybe help prevent it happening again?

I don't know. I doubt any of my students will ever be in the position to run a pharma company where they decide "Hey, this untested med, let's check it before we ship it out" and fundamentally do a George Bailey Saving Mr. Gower's Bacon thing by finding something very wrong with it before someone is harmed....

* In response to my tweet about "How do you teach history with all its horrors, and not despair" a follower tweeted a link to Good Bones, a poem that is somewhat related. (I had never seen that poem before).

And, yeah, yeah: "...chirps onabout good bones: This place could be beautiful,right? You could make this place beautiful." but it seems I've been trying for a long time and either the ugliness is too great or my efforts are too small, because the best thing I've managed to do is, I don't know, replace one of the creepy clown paintings with a poster of a hot UPS guy....

(Yes, I'm back to working through the first season of The Good Place. I think I'll have to watch it again once I've run through the first two seasons; I think I'm focusing more on the storyline and the jokes and less on the bigger questions. I will say I laughed for about five minutes last night over "I once saw him eat electrical tape off the roll; he thought it was Fruit Roll-Ups that had gone bad")

I suppose the other answer is that maybe my ambitions for "improving the world" are too great, and I need to focus more on the things I CAN do, but those things feel maddeningly small.

It's similar to the frustration with the "Be the change you want to see in the world" line; I've been trying for a long time and it still hasn't got where I want it to be. (And also, I feel like some others need to step up and help some times)

* I dunno. Maybe I do need a day out on Friday to refresh myself. The cynical or perhaps more-socially-conscious side of me snarls that I'm trying to paper over the ugliness of the world with self-indulgence and I really don't NEED any more yarn or books or anything.

*And again, I find myself circling back around to my feeling of "George Bailey was lucky" - yes, it didn't happen until he was in extremis but at least he saw that he mattered to people, that what he did mattered in the long run.

(I graded exams yesterday. People did not do as well as I had hoped. I cannot really tell if it's people being sloppy or careless or if I am not teaching the material adequately. About half the class did fine; but half did not. Granted, a few of the half that did not were people who tend to skip a lot. And in some cases the exam seemed hastily done, like the person didn't have or didn't want to take the time it required. (this was a take-home exam that people had a week to complete)

* Maybe I need to start walking around my neighborhood again with a trash bag and just pick up trash. Even if it doesn't stay picked up for long, it feels like SOMETHING. I used to do that but then I got busy and felt like "someone else needs to pick up the slack"

Though granted, my Bad Neighbors (The "YOU'RE DEAD TO ME" couple I wrote about before) have a Bad Dog who acts like the entire neighborhood is his territory, and who escapes regularly, and Sunday afternoon he got out as I was putting down my trashcart, and he ran at me and barked a  lot, and it WAS NOT the "hey play with me" bark with the wagging tail and doggy smile, it felt more like a "I'M GONNA MESS YOU UP!!!" bark and the dog's whole posture was aggressive....and I am afraid of unfamiliar dogs, having had some bad experiences as a kid.

So maybe I can't even do that, I don't know.

* Today was a "rest day" from exercising and I slept right up until my alarm went off which tells me that I'm both overtired and that the time-change needs to come because it's too dang dark in the mornings right now.

* I need to find something more to feel hopeful about. Sometimes this world just feels like such a bad old place.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Some good things

Because there's a lot of bad news out there and at one point today I was threatening again to become some kind of religious hermit, here are some small bits of good news:

- One of my cousins, who had a benign brain tumor that was causing epilepsy-like seizures and who could not work as a result, had successful surgery to remove it last week. He was awake and talking shortly after the surgery, so nothing seems to have been harmed. Doubly good that he's getting some relief; he is engaged to be married. (Long journey for him: at first he tried doing "discernment" to become a priest, but the conclusion was that he didn't have the call. Then he met back up with an old girlfriend and things got serious...then he started having the problems). I wish him all the happiness in the world, especially now with him getting married.

- A young man at church who "popped" a disk (lifting weights to train for football) and who had a lot of pain had successful surgery today. Apparently it wasn't a major procedure; apparently he had an unusually narrow channel for the spinal nerves and that was part of the issue. So hopefully with some PT he'll get back to functional.

- One of my students is (rightfully) super excited about his research project; depending on how much additional data he can get he may well have something publishable at the end of this. It was a really good plan and was one of the unusual cases where someone had a doable idea in mind that wasn't just repeating an existing experiment.

- The church I belong to won "best community float" in the combined (university and high school) Homecoming parade.

- I was able to come up with an acceptable "replacement lab" for the field lab this week (it's going to be too wet, if not outright flooded, to go out) AND we have a departmental credit card again, so I can go get the crickets and lettuce on the department's dime instead of my own.

- I was able to sort of help a student (not completely) with a bureaucratic issue today and ultimately got her enrolled in classes for next semester.

- More selfishly, I have Friday off this week (no more mid-fall break, but it's Mid-Semester Assessment Testing day, and no word has come telling us we must be at some meeting or another so I am going to assume I get that day to myself). I had tentatively planned to go to Whitesboro and now I *definitely* am because they are having a 20% off "Rhinebeck Consolation" sale.

(for the non-knitters: Rhinebeck - which is in New York - is an enormous fiber festival, it's kind of like Woodstock for fiber people. Lots of people go, it's huge and exciting, and I often feel slightly sad I *can't* go even though (a) it would be very, very expensive for me and (b) I hate crowds and I know I'd be slightly freaked out the whole time)

But I can totally do a 20% off sale at a yarn shop I know and love. (I'll have to look at my accumulated patterns and see if there's anything I "need.")

I may also go to Lovejoy's for lunch, and will definitely do "big grocery shopping" (which I have not done in quite a while).

I do have the duty on Saturday of providing jam bars for the memorial service they are doing for the former member of church, but that's the only real requirement I face this weekend.


And yes, I kind of suck, because I broke down and bought this:

That's supposed to be a heart on his chest but the sequins are harder to manipulate than I thought. I think this is going to be a sofa pillow rather than a bed-critter, because I could see the sequins being a bit fragile...

(Yaffa the Unicorn. I like the name and it's not that far off of "Jaffa cakes" (I can't get genuine ones but I can get knockoffs of them - Pim's orange biscuits - and they are a favorite). It may be a good stress-reliever thing, flipping the sequins back and forth, even if they don't stay as smooth and uniform as I thought they might be)

Monday morning things

I find myself thinking of the Wendell Berry quote that Kirbanita had up on her (now-inactive) blog, Take Joy:

"In the dark of the moon, in flying snow, in the dead of winter, war spreading, families dying, the world in danger, I walk the rocky hillside, sowing clover. —Wendell Berry "

Yeah, Terrible People are doing Terrible Things. The biggest top-of-mind thing now is hearing about journalists (plural, and not just the high-profile guy all over the news) being killed for doing what they do. (And also, the high-profile guy, and what this may mean; I am already hearing people speculating about higher gas and oil prices, though who knows). And more talk of just the endless dividing-up of the human race into little cliques or tribes or whatever you want to call it.

And I was struck by the irony of that, skimming news articles to that effect in my office this morning, while I typed up the minutes* of the Wesley Center Board Meeting from yesterday.

(*I find it is good to type up minutes ASAP after a meeting; part of the reason my minutes are "good" - and people praise them as such - is that I have a good memory for what was said even if I can't always write it all down fast enough. But memory fades after a couple days, so better to get them down on paper.  And I do tend to get asked to be recording secretary, and I don't mind that AT ALL. As I said before: it's a nice, low-drama, low-profile job. You are Useful, but you don't have to do scary things like fundraising, because you are already taking the  minutes. And I suppose it helps to have an honest person who won't confabulate as the secretary, even though I do send the minutes out to the rest of the board to make sure I got everything correct.... And yes, I suspect some people would argue that it's a very 'gendered' job, in that traditionally a woman did it, but I look beyond that: it's something my specific skills suit me well for (good memory, can take notes quickly, can write and listen at the same time) and there are OTHER jobs (being in charge) I dislike, so...)

But yeah. I thought of the sad irony of the world feeling on a regular basis like it's burning down, but then that quotation popped into my head.

One other thing I did, it was a small thing, but I did it: I didn't spend all the money I had budgeted for groceries last week, so when I ran out to grab an emergency carton of milk (was getting low, and I wound up having to opt for 2% Fairlife because that was what Green Spray had) I also bought a few cans of green beans and corn, and some tuna, and a can of chili, and carried it over with me and stuck it in the Blessing Box. These are kind of like Little Free Libraries, but for food - the idea is, if you've got a little extra cash and the inclination, you buy a few boxes or cans of something and stick it in there, and if you're hungry or running a little short for the month, you stop by and take a can or two. And I suppose entirely that sometimes the donors are also recipients; that's how it works some times.

But yeah. I do find myself struck by the fact that the things I can do to help are small and simple things, and the things other people can do to mess things up seem to be big and grandiose. And I try not to be discouraged and feel like my small, simple helpful things are totally cancelled out by the larger bad, but it's hard not to.

But also: even if the world is going to Hell, I don't have to hurry it along its way.

And who knows; maybe that can of tuna or corn makes the difference to somebody, whether a student or a local person who lives near the Wesley Center.

(And yes, I know: entirely possible someone would "cheat" and take the food when they don't need it, but more and more I feel like that's on THEM, not on me, and anyway, the food put out in that box is not luxurious....so I doubt someone would take it without genuinely needing it. And hopefully most people still do have scruples.)

I also think about a comment that "Friar" made - quoting another blogger who asserted that 15% of human experience is being lived right now (because of the size of the population compared to the past). And yeah....and with social media and the 24-hour news cycle, we are hearing 100% of it, and too much of it is bad stuff. And I have to remind myself: if you were living in 1850, you wouldn't be hearing what people in the next town over were doing, let alone all of the machinations within government and the entertainment industry (outside of a few painters and magazine or novel writers and opera singers, there WAS no "entertainment industry"). And while that feels sort of....appealing....to be in one's own little bubble where the most important things are when the migrating birds show up or the fact that Deacon Smith's son is making cow-eyes at the Anderson's daughter, and maybe there will be a wedding soon...also life in 1850 was not that good in a lot of ways. Especially not if you were an unmarried woman. (Or a person of color, or a Native American, or a poor person, or....well, just about any group you might choose to name. And even at that, it's not at all clear I'd have made it out of childhood intact in a world with no antibiotics and virtually no vaccines....)

But it is hard not to feel dismay at the foolishness humanity can get itself up to. Probably what I do need to do is focus more on what species of migratory birds are coming through, and if there aren't exactly young couples in the church to make cow-eyes at each other, I can still have my friends there, and I can work on my knitting projects, and all that sort of thing. And read. I am eagerly watching my Twitter feed for Folio Society to announce their Christmas books (even though I have ordered more than I could probably afford from their fall catalog) because their Christmas catalog is always nice and there's always a book or two I want.

I also am unsettled because there is a report of someone having (intentionally) jumped off a bridge into Lake Texoma and drowning. And I wonder: is it selfish of me to pray that it's not someone I know, or a loved one of someone I know? No names and really no details have been released yet...I hope I don't wind up with yet another bereaved friend. 

And tonight is Bell Choir, and maybe, I don't know, maybe we're bringing a little light into the world with what we're doing. Or at the very least, we're there to support one another; several of us are alone in the world (unmarried or widowed or divorced; if the person has children they are often grown and gone....)

And I try to be kind to my colleagues and students. Whatever form that takes, whether it's being lenient on a due date for someone genuinely struggling or being tough with someone who isn't taking their education seriously....it's just sometimes that it does feel very small.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Not so fun

So, after that last post, I decided, "Hey, maybe I do put the furnace on for a bit, just warm it up a degree or two, it will also dry the place out a bit" (my house has smelled a bit musty, given that no AC has been running and it's all shut up and it's damp here and it's an old house)

So I changed the filter (a good idea to do monthly anyway for me: the air intake is a bit on the small side) and fired the thing up.

It came on, the fan started up, I got that burnt-dust smell, warm air started to come out. Great, I thought, now I can settle in and watch Ponies.

Halfway through the first of the two part season finale.....everything shut off.

At first, alarmed, I thought, "Could the furnace have somehow had a fault in it?" (Gas furnace, but the starter and blower are electric). Then I wondered - does everyone on my street have power out?

I went out and looked. Couldn't see any lights and the one or two people who tend to leave their porch lights on 24/7, the lights were off. Also it's a dark day and the streetlight was out.

Okay, I thought, so I call it in.

I did, but either because my phone (a landline but a fancy phone that has electrical features) or OG and E's system was glitching, it wasn't at all clear if it was recorded.

And I decided to check on a friend's power. (I tried calling the church; sometimes the secretary works down there on Saturday mornings but she wasn't in). Called my friend Jane who is on the other side of town but I was reasonably sure she'd be home.

Got her, but "Oh, sorry honey, we're on the Southeastern Electric Co-op." Yeah, I had forgotten. I tried her daughter (the local DA) but had the wrong number for her and had to call Jane back....

in the middle of all that, someone knocked on my door. It turned out to be the guy working on the house next door to me, he wanted me to call the owners to give my official permission for him to paint the shared side of my garage. I told him I would but apologetically noted my power was out.

"Oh," he said. "That explains why there's no electric over there today."

Anyway. I got Emily's number and called her - she's about six blocks west. She had power, so I guess it was just my little area.

Well, dang. Turned on all my battery powered camp lights and also some of the electric tealights I have. The only thing I could easily do was practice piano, so I had this setup:

power outage 2

I could see the music, kind of. Mainly practiced the Bach piece, which I have chunks of memorized at this point.

 Later, I got out the "chamber lantern" I had bought from Lehman's but forgot about - it runs on cooking oil; they recommend olive oil as it burns cleanest (Makes sense: in Biblical times much of the light was burning olive oil). So I set that up and I have to admit it works very well, and I will always have olive oil on hand (it's my main cooking oil, and I even dip bread in the extra-virgin kind) so that means I have the fuel I need. (They say other organic oils will work as well - even rendered down pigfat or melted butter - but not to use mineral oil because it gunks up the wicks and creates more indoor pollution). It works pretty well so I will have to keep that somewhere handy in case of future outages. (You do have to periodically trim the wick as it burns, an old skill I am not that good at. I wound up having to relight it and the stupid "green" matches - green as in environmentally friendly - only seem to light about 1/3 of the time, which is bad from a safety perspective. Maybe I get a lighter or even a flint and steel in case of emergencies in the future. Or I look for "less green" matches if they can still be had)

Lunchtime rolled around. So much for a nice bowl of hot and sour soup and a cup of tea - I wound up eating fruit and a cottage cheese instead. And it was getting colder in my house.

(Emily had made the offer "if you need anything" but I figured I'd only use that if the power was still out tomorrow morning and I needed a ride to church - I can't get my garage door up without power. (I should invest in a new motor unit with a battery back-up. I know they make such things. My garage is configured such that it's not possible for me to get into it a "back way" and just uncouple the door and raise it manually)

In all of this, the mail came. I ran out to get it from the guy (he had a box) so he wouldn't have to walk up to the door in the by-now heavy rain (probably that didn't make a lot of sense for me - get colder even though I'm already cold but whatever).

I wound up reading my issue of "The Week" sitting on the piano bench because that was the only place there was enough light to read by. 

And the box was Toothless:

Toothless is GREAT and now I am glad I ordered him. He almost has the feel of "black cat with yellowish eyes except dragon" and he's nice and big and cuddly.

Interestingly, his wings will take off:

They're attached to a little ribbon halter that you can slip off. It's been a while since I saw his "source movie," but I don't think his wings took off in the movie. I'm guessing it's because they're that kind of stiff foamy stuff (like the wings on the Aurora stuffed My Little Ponies) and it might be kind of rough and not-cuddly for a child sleeping with Toothless in their arms (or an adult...). Or maybe, since he's handwashable, you take those off for washing (I guess you can actually dunk him in water to wash if need be - they do say "surface was only if contains mechanism" like one of the sound things.

(I did look at those when I bought him - I didn't want one that roared, not if I had him on my bed, if I rolled over funny and bumped him I'd scare myself. And there was also a heartbeat but that was actually kinda creepy, so....I went with no sound, which was also cheaper.

And when you order online, you have the option to click on a button and "insert a wish" for free and you can bet I did that.

No, I'm not going to tell you what it was, then it won't come true. It did have an unselfish component to it, though, it wasn't just "I wish my hair were less messy" or "I wish I won an award at work" or something like that)

And also: though I claim 100% I am not vain, I really kind of am. Because I was staying home today I had not put makeup on but when I was going to take a "selfie" (Is it still a selfie if it's using your webcam?) of me with Toothless, I decided "better put make up on"

It's not that obvious that I wear it, but (a) my skin tone is less even without it and (b) I'm kinda pale without blush, so....

But oh man am I glad the power is back on. Gonna do the rest of my piano practice and then maybe make that cup of tea I was wanting. And I think I WILL make cheesy grits for dinner. (I am presuming the power is staying on now: we're not having storms or anything and I figure maybe it was just an unlikely event)

"Treat yo' Self"

According to the Out Of Context Parks and Rec* twitter feed, today is Treat Yo' Self day

(*And yes, sometime I will get back to watching it through on Amazon Prime. Maybe even this weekend as I'm feeling less upset and jangled right now, where slightly uncomfortable humor in those types of shows is even too uncomfortable for me)

Yes, this is a thing, and in some areas of Social Media it's been roundly thrashed as self-indulgent and People Spending Money They Don't Have.

And while I'd *like* to go out and do something fun....well, it's supposed to rain 3" here today, and we've probably already had a half-inch, and it's Homecoming, so traffic will be bad, and I'd just rather stay in.

I do have a couple things already on the way - as mentioned, Toothless and Cony. (I suppose either COULD come today; the tracking info on Toothless said Monday but it also said yesterday it was in transit to my town....) So that would be a treat. And I ordered a book of shawl designs based on micrographs of plant anatomical features, but that won't be here until Monday...

Though I think maybe my "treat" will be

a. Making either a small cake from ingredients I have on hand, or mixing up the brownies (Ghirardelli triple-chocolate) that I bought in case they were needed for the reception last week

b. Making the casserole form of cheesy grits, maybe for dinner.(They take an hour to bake).

(Though, oh darnit - they take the same size pan as the brownies would, and I only have one pan that size. Hm. I wonder if I could do the brownies in my pie pan instead....or maybe do the grits in there.)

I also plan to take a little relaxation time today - next piano lesson isn't for two weeks (next week is the local schools' mid-fall break so my teacher will be gone. And yes, I am wondering how the public school STILL gets a week off for mid-fall break AND a week at Thanksgiving, and they had to take away OUR mid-fall break for a week-long Thanksgiving break, but whatever). So I can do a *little* less practice than typical (I think 40 minutes instead of 60) and that also means more time to knit - I pulled out Anaheim last night and started back up on it again.

It's cold and rainy out. My house is currently at 69 degrees and I am thinking about either (a) putting the heat on (better change the filter first if I do that) or running over to my office to grab the space heater/fan combo I have over there. (Though in the long run: gas is cheaper than electricity, so I'd be ahead putting the furnace on to warm it up a degree or two, I think). I'm in a sweatshirt and big fluffy socks and flannel pants, so it's not like I'm too lightly dressed. I don't know. I could also just grab a blanket - I admit I'm not up for the burnt-dust smell you always get when you first activate the heater.

I'll have to do it eventually; **highs** are supposed to be in the 40s on Monday (I guess I dig out my tights and wear my heavy knit dress to work) and I think I cannot keep the house warm enough with that. Maybe better to get the burnt-dust smell out when it's conceivably warm enough to open a window....

I also redressed my Barbies in fallish clothes - longer sleeves and jackets on a couple of them.

and I have a face mask to use, and some supposedly callus-softening one-use booties, so I may do that to try to fix my feet a little more. And maybe take a hot bath before bed tonight....

Friday, October 12, 2018

A cuteness deficiency

I joked about that yesterday, but I wonder if maybe it is a thing for me - that if life gets too up in my face, if I spend too much time on work-stuff and fighting with the various websites I MUST use in my teaching, and things like grading, I start to get a little sad and droopy.

Yesterday evening, after various tasks (trip to Mart of Wal, submitting grade-and-attendance reports, laundry, piano practice), I sat down to relax. It was a little late to tune into "The Good Place" (and also I missed last week's episode, and I feel like until I've seen more of season 1 and 2, I will have a harder time getting the thread). I considered one of the tiny-house shows that currently heavily populate DIY network, but, eh. (Sometimes I kind of hate-watch them, especially the ones with the people who smugly declare they want "experiences, not stuff" or who give odd reasons for things like eschewing actual flush toilets or on-site laundry facilities. My life is hard enough without making it harder by having to empty a toilet or go to a laundrette. But sometimes, I admit, I like the idea of these tiny little hobbit-hole type places, that would be so easy to clean, and you would NEVER have to host meetings at your house because...well, it's too small. And I like the idea of everything being in easy reach and just the whole scaled-down dollhouse aspect, even as I KNOW that during a string of bad weather (either heavy rain as we're getting now, or hot summer days, or an ice storm) I'd go nuts in such a small space and not being able to go out)

So that didn't work for me right then.

So I fired up the Amazon Prime connection I get through my dvd player (I could also get Netflix or Hulu if I wanted to pay for them, and I can get Pandora and YouTube). And I pulled up the first season of what they are now calling "Classic" Angelina Ballerina. (This is the traditional-style cartoon that I've talked about before, not the uglier and more-modern CGI sort of thing).

And watched a few episodes.

The show is very simple and very cute. Yes, I get how it wouldn't be for everyone and it is very much aimed at younger girls, it seems. Most of the "drama" is friend-drama (minor misunderstandings, or the two rich bratty twin mice Penelope and...Primrose? I think? making everyone else miserable) or family-drama (Angelina had to babysit her little cousin but she was planning on going to the fair with her friends, and she takes him along, and OF COURSE because he's a baby he doesn't want to go in the haunted house or down the helter skelter...)

And I find that restful. I dunno. I find I hit a point where anything beyond the mildest of friend-and-family drama* or the very mildest of "peril" is too much and too tiring.

(*and especially if it's situations where, as Sweetie Belle once remarked, "The problem gets worked out in 22 minutes or so")

I also like it because it's just pretty and nice to look at. The colors recall watercolor paintings or old-style children's-book illustrations (in some ways, it feels a bit like the spiritual heir to Beatrix Potter). And the setting is very distinctive (one of my gripes with the newer CGI style series is that they've modernized it and lost the small-village/rural character of the original). It is very clearly a small British village, probably of the 1950s or early 60s, based on the styles of (mouse-sized!) buses and cars. There are telephones, but they're the old candlestick style. There *might* be radios, but they don't play a big role and I don't remember seeing a television in any of the episodes...and I like that slightly-timeless, slightly-historical feel.

I suppose it's that I'm getting old - I once commented that my childhood probably had more in common with Ralphie Parker ("A Christmas Story") in the 1940s than my niece's current childhood will have with mine. (Well, there was maybe 35 years between Ralphie's childhood and mine, and my niece is almost 45 years younger than I am....but the world has moved awfully fast between the 1980s and today).

But part of it is that the pleasures seem to have been simpler. Going to a fair was a big, big deal. One of the episodes I saw (they are short) involved the extreme disappointment of Angelina and her friend Alice after they rushed to take the bus into the next biggest city* and the tickets for the ballet performance they wanted to see were sold out (but Angelina's father, a reporter, apparently pulled a few strings, and got tickets for them, and even arranged a meeting with the dancers)

(*And they went on the bus, ALONE. Angelina and her friend Alice are, I'd guess, analogous to about seven or eight year old girls. Again, an extreme anachronism: would any child today be allowed to travel into The Big City alone to buy a ticket?)

But yes. It's very pretty and rather quiet and the music is nice and the settings - the houses and shops and everything - are nicely drawn and interesting to look at; it very much has the feel of a storybook come to life.

And I needed that. I think I went to bed happier and slept better for having watched it. (I need to find a few more things like that - oh, I have more unwatched episodes, and even at that, I could rewatch them once I've run through them. But I like the sweet gentle cartoons.)

One of the problems is that there really aren't a lot of "cute" places to go in town. Some of the nice little shops have closed, and while we have Lulu and Hazel's, I haven't got out there in a while (haven't been doing any piecework or quilting, not for a long time) and mostly my running-around-town other than to work or church is going to either Pruett's or Mart of Wal, neither of which is exactly *cute*

(We don't have any nice and fun little cafes where I'd be comfortable going alone for lunch or to get a tea. I wish we had a bubble tea place like my parents' town. There are a couple of coffee places but they don't list much in the way of tea on their online menus).

And driving to Sherman feels like a hassle a lot of the time. (And we might get 3" of rain tomorrow, so going tomorrow seems unlikely).

I will admit on my wal-mart run yesterday I looked at the toy section, and looked at some of those sequin-covered toy animals (the ones where you can flip the sequins from one color to another by brushing your hand over them: that is a thing now). I admit I find the flipping-the-sequins thing somewhat tactilley pleasing (it hits the same spot as running my knuckle along one of the "mortar grooves" in the painted-brick walls in the hall here) but I didn't buy one because the only one I particularly liked was the narwhal, and someone had damaged it - pulled off some of the sequins - and I wasn't going to buy a damaged item.

I dunno. Part of me says "you need to be saving money" (especially seeing that CD interest rates are back up to something that makes the idea of tying up my money for a year or more seem slightly attractive) and also that I am still waiting on Cony and on Toothless to come in the mail....

I'm not sure about asking for one for Christmas - again, harder to find in print catalogs (though I think Signals maybe had a version) and given my parents' practicality, I doubt they'd buy me one. It is kind of a weird thing, I know. (Maybe I wait on it, maybe I do ask for one for Christmas or maybe I just wait and they come out with some nicer ones in the coming months)

But yeah. Maybe the cure for feeling tired and sad and worn is immersing myself in cute things? I was also thinking last night I should re-dress my various dolls again (taking into account the weather is colder, and yes, I like to have weather-appropriate clothes on my dolls).

And I'm still working on Not Okay Bot but the body takes a loooooong time to crochet. (I am also thinking again about doing a G4-ized crocheted Waterfire; I think I can find all the yarn I bought for her with a little looking).