Tuesday, June 19, 2018

and today's end

Bell choir went well.

We're actually getting...sorta good? And I'm realizing that when I screw up, no one can hear it (my screwups tend to be not-ringing when I need to ring) and as long as I'm not ringing before the piece starts or after it ends, I'm good....this is actually teaching me a better "catch up and move on" technique so I get less flustered at mistakes on the piano.

It also is deeply amusing to me what a ragtag bunch we are. Mike and I are the youngest (I don't know how old he is for sure; I am guessing mid to late 30s). There are two bank tellers, a couple retired teachers, the church secretary, the church organist who is also working real estate, a couple retired teachers, my former colleague (retired) Judy, and then me. And yet we can all work together.

As the director said: the dedication to be there and to work is about 80% of it. (Didn't someone famously say that 80% of life was showing up? I think more and more that that's true, after having had too many dealings with flakey people, and having been raised to be one of those "would crawl over broken glass to do something she said she'd do" kind of people).

So now I'm relaxing a bit, sitting in my room (which gets cooler faster in the evening than the living room - my bedroom is at the back of the house, which is the east side, and the living room - heh, the "front room*" is on the west side and gets the late-afternoon sun).

(*In the UP, where my mom grew up, many many people had a sort of formal parlor or living room and it was often called the "front room." My grandmother had one, even though her house was SMALL: there was the kitchen, which had the back door (which I thought of as the front door because it was the one everyone used) and a small dining area which was really more a walk-through area to the other rooms, a small family room with her bedroom off of it, and the front room. (There was also a small bathroom and two upstairs bedrooms. No one ever used the front room except for VERY formal things and it was where the Christmas tree went up.)

I'm listening to Pandora (what a great invention) and knitting on a scarf. I needed something simple so I dug out a multidirectional diagonal scarf I started a while back out of one of those "yarn cakes" that goes through a couple color changes:

No, I'm not sure what I will ultimately do with it. Give it away, maybe? Keep it? A lot of times, the stuff I make these days, I find I'm making it more for the making and less for the having.

And more today

So I came in. And I decided: well, I better check out the chemical cabinet, and start thinking about moving stuff into it.

(New Safety rule: even though the prep rooms are locked up tight, we now also have to keep any "dangerous" chemicals in a locked cabinet. I am thinking, if I can fit them, anything more "dangerous" than Miracle-Grow is being stored in there because I hate scrambling around to fifteen different places for things)

There were....complications.

1. The cabinet is very large and OF COURSE it had to be placed on the one open bit of counter where I stored big things, so my big things (sampling frames, meter sticks, and boxes of tiny frisbees that represent organisms in an island-biogeography lab I do) no longer have a home. And I am ADAMANT that I am NOT moving them to the storage building, because again: there's nothing I hate more than having to scramble around to fifteen different places for things AND storing boxes that people are going to reach into blindly in a spider-infested portable building is NOT a good thing; I am NOT going to take the fifteen minutes to check each box for safety before I use it every time.

I proposed a sort of pegboard to hang up the frames on and that might happen. The boxes, I don't know, but if I have to I'll just keep 'em in my office until Safety dings me for THAT. (Justifying their existence and all).

2. They didn't bother to install the shelf. So, fine, I can do that kind of thing. Except. The cabinet is set with door that won't stay open - they are on spring hinges so they slam shut if you're not holding them.

I don't have four hands. So in annoyance, I went to my chair:

"I will need help installing the shelf which the movers didn't install, the cabinet doors are constructed so they won't stay open and I don't have enough hands."

I was expecting an "Okay, sometime next week, we'll find the TA" but she said "If you have time now, I'll go help you."

It was NOT intuitive. What we thought were shelves are catchment trays (they are too short and too flimsy for shelves) but eventually I figured it out and we wrestled the shelf (singular, and there lies a problem: there may not be enough room for everything) into place.

I also pointed out the broken electronic balance that's been hanging around. I kept it thinking we can't throw stuff away. But then I remembered the inventory-numbers thing - only stuff above a certain cost is inventoried. So I asked her if I could dispose of it:

Me: "It doesn't have an inventory code, so can I throw it away?"
Her: "You probably better break it up a little more so no one dumpster-dives for it." (electronic balances are hot commodities among the mind-altering-substance-producing-and-selling crowd. They were one of the things we lost in the break-in some 12 years ago)
Me: "I have a sledgehammer" (probably said a bit too eagerly)
Her, chuckling: "I don't doubt you do."

And yeah, I did. After she left, I figured, "Well, she SAID I could" and anyway, how often do you get a chance to destroy something like that?

It takes a lot of force to break an electronic balance. The LCD screen broke first but finally by standing it on a side and beating on it, I got it into two pieces.

There's not a whole lot in there - a small circuit board, the screen, an attachment to the pan, and the battery pack. 

I started moving chemicals in but only got as far as moving the waste chemicals. (Which I wrote up for disposal LAST summer, were supposed to be disposed of THIS summer, but now will be disposed of NEXT summer. Possibly. It will be ironic if they're still sitting there in 2030 or whenever I retire. And yes, it irks me that I'm having to move them multiple times [when disposal time finally comes I'll have to gather them up and truck them over to whereever the drop-off point is on campus] but that's life, I guess).

I also cleaned up a bunch of stuff. A colleague has a bunch of stuff he doesn't use stored in there and I e-mailed him (he is off campus this summer so I doubt I'll get a response any time soon) asking me what he wanted me to do with it because it canNOT stay in the room any more.

(And yes, if it were up to me, and if I were imperious enough to be able to resist the saddle-soreness of someone over the thing, I'd just bung it all in the trash: he's not touched it in 10 years. But you must be collegial, so).

I did propose moving it to the storage shed. Though a couple things are heavy enough someone else will have to help me.

I threw away some stuff and put some stuff away (and LABELED the cabinets, except the one where I squirreled the working balances away: hopefully I will remember but I don't want it to be obvious in case we get broken-into again. There's still a lot of work to do and I also want to reorganize all the glassware once I empty the cupboard (even just partly) with chemicals in it but yeah.

The one saving grace? It's about 10 degrees cooler in there than in my office. My office is about 83 or 84 right now. Either something's broken, or they've decided they can save money by making the few professors in working stifle all summer long.

I stopped moving stuff because I realized I can't overtax my hands too much (or my bum shoulder) because tonight is bell choir and I don't want my hands do be weak so I drop a bell. I can do more tomorrow after I get done brushcutting.

So far today

Got up, decided it was not too hot to mow.

Mowed front and back yard. Decided to cut some brush, set a goal of five wheelbarrows full.

(Digression: for those of you who either don't live in the South or have gardeners, you have to understand the full horror of brush here. We have several viney things - some kind of wild grape, a blackberry, and fringed twine-vine, as well as greenbriar, that will grow seemingly inches in a day, and will smother anything they can grow over. And neither the grape nor the blackberry makes very good fruit, and the twinevine smells like teenage-boy sweat-shirts that have been left in the back of a hot car for three weeks. We also have several trees - mulberry, privet - that are planted by birds and that ALSO will not die unless you can dig out the extensive roots, which I can't. And we have various trashy elm species that have tiny seeds that get everywhere. So it's an ENDLESS thing and my yard always pretty much looks untidy but I ignore it, mostly, though I worry about the city coming after me)

I got three done. The wheel on the wheelbarrow is flat and it's really hard to move it around so I have to get another one.

(I may make a trip to Lowe's today for it and also see if they will sell me a machete or similar. You NEED it for some of the brush here)

Anyway. Three wheelbarrowfuls. My plan is to work for an hour tomorrow morning and try to get a bunch more done. Whether or not the city comes and picks it up - it's kind of random now when they do; they used to the first Wednesday of the month but now it's sometimes the second, sometimes the third, sometimes some other day. And anyway: I need to get the brush out when I have time and energy, not when I'm expecting the city to come.

Washed my hair and showered (I was sweaty and stunk like fringed twine-vine, and also, I need to get the pollen and crud out of my hair). Got dressed, changed out my nail polish (toes) for a new color (Essie's "Let it Glow" and yes I bought it because of the name. It's a slightly orangish metallic pink).

I also (sigh, this is a thing now) waxed my upper lip - since perimenopause the fine pale hair that was always there has got a bit coarser and darker, and while I may be the only one who notices, still, I do notice. (I've contemplated shifting to wax for legs, except, the thought of that much pain over that much of my body stays my hand, and a razor seems to work tolerably well)

Practiced piano for 20 minutes.

I need to do 20 more, and then I might run out to Lowe's and then have lunch and then go over to school and I guess start moving all the chemicals - new regulations, everything has to be in a locked cabinet even though we have locked prep rooms where they stay. And I will have to move chemicals for a colleague who kind of shares that lab but who is out of town at the moment and he is NOT ALLOWED to complain about how I arrange them in the cabinet.

Tonight is bell choir and I am looking forward to that, looking forward to just laughing and hanging out with what are really some of my favorite people from church.

Even though I said last night I need to save my money I am contemplating a Friday or Saturday trip to Sherman specifically to go to the "big" antique mall, which I didn't get to last time. I figure: I have time to have a little fun this summer so why not? I work hard all school year long and there are far too many times during the semesters when I would really LIKE to get out but cannot make the time.

Edited to add: this is the new nail polish. It's more orangey than I thought it was but I think it's OK

"Let it Glow"

And I unboxed the Paddington late last evening. He is a very good boy indeed, even if he can't sit down (just his arms and his head move). I love the little jar of marmalade.

Paddington unboxed

Monday, June 18, 2018

New little friend

Yes, I'm buying lots of goofy stuff right now. I guess I kind of decided this is how I spend my "bonus." (Though this might be the last item for a while; I need to buckle down and work instead of shopping - both work on my teaching stuff [also came today, but not pictured, a couple books I want to read before Run 2 of Policy and Law], and also work on knitting/quilting projects)

But I saw this on one of the Pony blogs - it might have been "Yo Dawg I Heard You Like Ponies" (one of my favorites) and I really really liked it and hadn't known of it's existence and Amazon had it, so....

It's a Paddington Bear figure! With accessories! There's a London pigeon, and a tiny jar of marmalade, and of course his suitcase, and a marmalade sandwich with a bite out of it....and I love this kind of thing. Based on the movie, yes, but I would have ADORED one of these when I was a child and I would have played the heck out of it. (I had one of the tiny flocked Eden Paddingtons; he wore out - his coat all frayed and his flocking came off, because I played with him so much and also carried him in my pocket as a "pocket friend*")

(*My mom's term for a small toy carried in a pocket, she knew I did this all through my childhood (and she supported it, I think she recognized it was an innocuous way to help me get through the day). And that was why I needed pockets in my clothes as a child; school was less scary if I had one of my little plastic animals or a small stuffed toy with me. I never took them out in class - I was afraid of the teacher confiscating it - but knowing it was there helped. And yes, at times, I have gone to either dentist or doctor's appointments as an adult with a little Pony in my pocket or something similar. Which is another reason why dresses need pockets)

I'm not opening this just yet. I need to do a bit more piano practice and then decide: do I try to go out and mow (as my exercise for today) later on, do I hop on the cross-country ski exerciser instead? I admit I prefer exercise being purposeful work (as opposed to doing the equivalent of riding a bike that goes nowhere) but it's *awfully* hot out right now and especially in the bright sun, I have a really hard time. (It's funny but heat + humid + sun makes me overheat and feel ill faster than just heat + humid). I might be able to do it first thing tomorrow instead.....

Well, that's done

As I said on Twitter: my dental check-up is over so Monday can only get better, right.

(Do not taunt Happy Fun Monday....)

This was just the every-six-months thing that those of us with dental insurance (or who can easily afford about $120 out of pocket) do. (My insurance covers all of "prophylactic" care, so it's free to me - well, FSVO free; I do pay about $30 as a monthly premium, which essentially works out to two visits plus a set of x-rays every year, but since it's a small amount taken out of my paycheck, I don't notice).

This was the "big" visit - x-rays, and cleaning/scraping, and I was also due for a gum check.

The good news, up front: my teeth are all sound so I don't have to go back (barring some emergency) until December. And the dentist, he had a busy schedule today, so he was doing the checks when he could get in, which meant he interrupted the hygienist halfway through the sonicating (scaling with an electronic thing) so I got a break and also I found out relatively early in the appointment I wasn't going to have to have serious work done, so that made it more tolerable.

I don't like the sonicator, though. It makes a high pitched whine that hurts my ears a little and for part of it (especially on the upper teeth, which is worse for me) she switched to the old-fashioned hand tool, which takes longer but seems less painful.

The x-rays are not bad, they use a digital system that's fast and they don't have the old flappy "bitewing" things (where the edge of the wing would always tickle the roof of my mouth and make me want to cough any more).

The hygienist did say it looked like I had "some bone loss" but that it was not unusual with age. Ugh, so I have another thing to worry about, I guess. (Maybe I need to go and get a baseline bone scan, given my family history of osteoporosis. I will have to ask my doctor about it when I see her later this summer)

The gum check is weird and uncomfortable - they jab a little pick into your gums, repeatedly (at least once for each tooth). The hygienist wears a headset she talks into and reads off a string of numbers that the machine repeats back to her, and she also notes when there's bleeding (I seem to have a lot of bleeding but she also said that didn't seem to indicate disease in me). The numbers I got were all very low and she explained that any number that is 3 or under is good and indicates healthy gums, so yay me, I guess? She did suggest a water-pik might help flush things out better and cut down on the bleeding; she thought it was maybe bacteria in there (not pathogenic ones, apparently)

But the whole "repeated jabbing" thing. It could be a form of torture. I make it through the gum check because I know it's necessary to monitor health and I know it will be over eventually but it is NOT pleasant.

Then it was sonicating and scraping. I tend to be a "hyperaccumulator" (lots of calcium goo on my teeth) even though I brush twice a day and floss daily, so there's a lot of that for me.

Finally, cleaning, which tells me I'm almost free.

(They also ultrasonically cleaned my mouthguard for me - it's got a few chips and pockets in it now that the brush won't clean out so it gets a little nasty over time)

But yeah. I am glad to be done with that for now.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The newest blocks.

I feel better now. A big part of it WAS getting into my sewing room and just being able to work on something for myself. Part of it was being able to go to church and socialize without having a lot of stuff hanging over my head. Part of it was my friend Mike came up to me and gave me one of those side-hugs and greeted me with "Hello, Beautiful."

That...yeah. That makes a difference. Yes, I guess I am a little vain but it is nice to hear it. (Don't read too much into him calling me "beautiful." We will never be more than friends, for one big reason...)

But the blocks. I admit, I'm not convinced the pink was the best choice (it is less intense and more subtle in person; I think the flash did something to the color contrast). But I was trying to use a chunk of fabric out of stash. Also, I'm sure it will look better when the whole top is together. This is just the first dozen blocks. (If I remember correctly, there are 72 all told).

blocks 1

Another view

blocks 2

 Also, a few silly acquisitions from yesterday. I went to one of the antique shops and found a couple things

This is a linen "cut out doll" that originally came from Williamsburg.

Williamsburg doll

It was $3. There's a casing sewn across the top so it can be hung on a wall, but I am seriously contemplating cutting it out and sewing it up as a pillow - which was apparently meant to be its fate. (It is printed on linen, which is kind of interesting to me). As I've said before, "flatsy" toys were a big thing when I was a kid; you don't seem to see them in fabric stores so much any more.

I also found another doll. (I seem to be getting sucked back into doll collecting again. I should probably retrieve a few favorites from my collection that is in storage at my parents', and maybe sell the rest - I don't have room for the whole collection here)

Susan B.

This is a small (like, 6" tall) doll of Susan B. Anthony, part of a line Hallmark made in the 1970s (I remember them, but wasn't that into dolls as a small kid, so I never had any). There was Susan B., and I think George and Martha Washington, and Juliette Low, and George Washington Carver, and a number of others...

I dunno. I just saw her and liked her. I don't know that I will buy any of the others unless I happen to find them somewhere for a good price.

I also bought some....much sillier dolls. (Ones I am not sure my Susan B. doll would fully approve of). There's a whole line of "unboxing" dolls called LOL Surprise (there are several lines, actually - even one with pets which is kind of cute). The dolls DO generate a lot of waste (lots of unnecessary packaging) but the unboxing aspect is a big part of their popularity. They are kind of cute little dolls, though. I got one Glitter Pop (has glitter all over her, including her hair and her dress) and a Confetti Pop, which I didn't realize but should have - has a spring mechanism in the "ball" the doll comes in, and when you pop it the first time, there's a bunch of confetti that flies out (hence the name). You can reset the ball to pop it again, and I SUPPOSE you could gather up the confetti and put it back in (I swept it up and threw it away).

So, the dolls I got were "Fancy" (the glitter one) and "Go-Go Dancer" (the confetti one, but I have renamed her Daisy):

Daisy and Fancy

Yes, they're baby dolls, and maybe Daisy is a little age-inappropriate in her dress (some of the other dolls, shown on the flier that comes with them, are similar), but they're still kind of cute as odd little mascot type of things.

They have open mouths because they come with a "bottle" (well, Daisy's is like a little milk carton) and they will drink, and if you squeeze them, some of them cry (Fancy has little holes in her pupils so I think she would) and some spit back out of their mouth, and some "wet." (I think Daisy is supposed to be a drink-and-wet, based on the flier). I won't try it....I remember having drink and wet baby dolls as a littl'un, and also tub toys, and the nastiness that grew inside things once they got water in them. (I also don't want to ruin Fancy's glitter)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

I don't know

I don't feel great right now. I don't know if it's one, or a combination, of these:

1. Sad over the whole memorial service thing

2. "Peopled out"

3. Haven't really had any time today to do knitting or sewing (I need to do 20 more minutes of piano practice but then I can)

and maybe a little bit of: 4. Dental checkup Monday, though my teeth have been less sensitive of late and I feel almost like I can tolerate having metal tools in my mouth for once.

But yeah. Today was the memorial service for a long-time (lifetime) member of the congregation, a retired dentist. (In fact, he was the person I called for advice back in 2013 when I broke that tooth).

So, anyway:

#1. Even though memorial services are easier than true funerals (funerals happen soon after death; grief is still present and raw, and often the person or family opts for open-casket, which is something I frankly find difficult). I think Dr. W. chose to be cremated, and also, the difficulty in traveling for some of his relatives, meant that he died several weeks before the memorial.

But what I find increasingly what gives me pause at these: the frisson that there will come a day when I will be the person traveling. I will be the one, like the granddaughters at this service, telling myself I need to keep it together long enough to read the scripture passage or recount the story or whatever. And I don't like that thought. I mean, right now, both my parents are in tolerably good health (well, except for my dad's severe arthritis, but that's not something that's terminal). But I acknowledge that unless something terrible happens to me, I will be doing this for them some day.

I made it okay through the service, though when they did the memorial video (this is a thing now, I guess), it did make me sad - the W.'s children are about my age (the W's are just a bit older than my own parents) and so there were those old 1970s era photos where the men have discreet sideburns and the clothes and even the pigment colors in those old, slightly faded photos, and it kind of hit me in the nostalgia.

(And yes, I think there's a lot of truth to the thing a minister friend once told me, that when you mourn, you're not mourning a person, you're mourning the "auld lang syne" - the good times that you had that you will never have again with them)

And also, they played Debussy's "Clair de Lune" over that part of the video, and at the best of times that piece makes me slightly sad.

I had work to do - I got down at church shortly before 10:30 with my sandwiches (I made ham-and-cheese buns. I bought a pound and a half of ham and 18 of the little Hawaiian bread  buns. I had at least a quarter pound of ham leftover, which I gave to one of the other women who has a grandson to feed - I don't need ham in the house, too much salt). I also prepared communion for tomorrow (it is "my" month). I helped out with some other stuff, putting ice in cups, making sure the necessary serving spoons were out, etc.

I find in a slightly sad or scary situation I do better if I have something to do. I've speculated before that if I were alive during Blitz-era London, I'd maybe be one of those women who rolled bandages for the Red Cross, or made tea to serve people bombed out of their houses, or been an ambulance driver, something like that. If I am trying to help at least I am not brooding about my own situation.

The lunch was just for family - about 20 people. (There were two other kinds of sandwiches, and a large broccoli salad, and deviled eggs and fruit). I mostly poured iced tea for people.

I guess doing ham and cheese sandwiches was a good idea; all of my sandwiches went, and I suppose if they hadn't been good people would have warned other people off of them.

As I've said before, I think serving the family a meal either before or after the service is important. I've been there myself (my grandmother's funeral): you're tired and sad and you know you should eat something, especially if you had to travel far, but the whole thing of finding a restaurant and order something seems like a little too much.

After the service there was a reception but the PEO (a philanthropic organization, sort of a sorority, that Dr. W's widow belonged to) provided the food for that and mostly had it all out on trays for serving.

But yeah. #2 kicked in midway through the reception. The lunch was easy enough - I had a purpose to fulfill and also it was a smaller group. But the reception was for everyone, and pretty much everyone came.

including a couple people who had left the congregation some years back under....not the happiest circumstances, or who (in my personal opinion, and I could be wrong) blew up some minor situation into a major slight and dropped responsibilities and left. (And this is my stuff: that was not how I was raised. I was raised in the "it's not about you, this is bigger than your feelings" school of thought and I have spent time reminding myself that everyone screws up and sometimes I just get my feelings hurt, but to get over it... And a lot of time, since I can make things about me on my blog, after I get my feelings hurt, I never hear an apology.)

And even with people who are no longer part of us because they had to move away....still, seeing someone you've not seen for years sometimes seems a little awkward and difficult and you can't really catch up at an event like this, and....I don't know. It's not the same as a reunion dinner or somesuch where everyone is happy and can take time to catch up. At things like memorial services, you feel....kind of not right....catching up with a person, you feel like you need to focus on the grieving family, and so conversations seem weird and stilted.

I left before the reception was over because there wasn't much for me to do (all the desserts were out and they really only needed one person to refill the water container) and I was feeling kind of sad and overwhelmed and wanting to be away from people for a while.

(Ugh, I also just had something - some of the talk on the news - about someone I knew who has wound up, thanks to bad actions by a close relative, in very bad circumstances. (How bad? We don't even know if this person is still alive because their relative has removed their means of contacting anyone in the "outside world." They are far away and we're not entirely sure where, so we can't even try to visit. I had repressed that right up until I heard about a person in the news who was recently incarcerated and had their cell phone taken away....I think that was another thing, hearing news of people who are gone and absent, and some of that news was not happy)

#3 is kind of self-explanatory. I probably, tomorrow, need to (a) get my piano practice in early, (b) call my dad (Father's Day) right after lunch, and then go into my sewing room for the rest of the afternoon.

I think though, also on reflection, allergies and being on my feet a lot today contributes to my feeling down. I KNOW there is something down at church that sets off my allergies (very old building: probably mold in the duct system) and also they had a huge flower arrangement with lilies in it on the serving table, and the smell of lilies always bothers me a little.

And it's hot and humid (came home to a full dehumidifier). We might get rain next week but they keep dropping the likelihood of that so I don't know.

On the one hand, no rain means I can push out having to mow to a later day, on the other hand, no rain is depressing. One of the hardest things - I find - about living here is that the summers are pretty much 100% predictable: it gets hot around late May or early June, it stays hot, it doesn't rain, the temperature remains between 90 and 110 until September at least. I need a little variation in my weather; I need the occasional cloudy day. Back in Ohio we often would get a cool front mid summer, or days when it rained, and it was a nice change. Even Illinois would get rain and storms and sometimes the odd cool day. But this really does feel kind of eternal, and it's hard to get away from the heat, even as I spend a lot of money to run a dehumidifier and an air conditioner.

One of the things I like about winter, and I find this year in particular I miss, are those really cold nights when I can roll up in a bunch of blankets and be cozy. I think what it is is that it makes me feel psychologically "safe," and I can't get that feeling in the summer because it's too hot.When it's hot I sleep "shallowly" and I wake up a lot, and I have disjointed and unpleasant dreams that I remember with greater detail than dreams when it's cold and I sleep more deeply.

(I keep the house at 76, which is the warmest temperature at which I still sleep, in the summer. In the winter, at night, I will often turn the thermostat down to 68 or even 66. It's funny how much of a difference that 10 degrees makes in my sleep but there you are.)

Friday, June 15, 2018

For later commentary

I have a few things to attend to (writing Sunday school lesson, finishing piano practice), but in a chain of clicking (I was looking for a hymn that JG Whittier wrote the words to) I ran across this. The words were new to me but the tune was not. (I guess from the comment this was sung at the most recent Royal Wedding? I did not watch it).

There's a lot I could say about the hymn, but I think the simplest thing I can say is: If anyone asked me about what kind of a Christian I was, I'd have them listen to this hymn.

(And huh. It's written by the same woman who wrote "Mrs. Miniver")

out all day

Well, that's my plan now. Maybe I even hit the antiques shops.

Because this morning, as I was fixing breakfast, there came a knock on the door. At first I ignored it (which, as it turns out, might have been bad*) but then I peeked out a window and saw trucks lined up on the street.

I wondered if maybe my neighbor's air conditioning unit had died - it sounded bad the other day - and if it was going to be the HVAC guys wanting access to my drive (which is right next to it) for repair.

No. It was a roofer. He wanted to know if they could park their trailer in my drive.

Okay, this is where I'm kind of chicken livered. Or too nice. Or something. I felt internal irritation - but I NEED my drive! but I said "Give me a few minutes to finish getting ready" (fortunately I was already dressed) "and I'll move my car."

(*I wonder what they would have done if I hadn't answered the door. Would they have assumed I was not home, out of town, at work, and just pulled in the drive? I mean, if I had walked out and found that had happened, I'm sure one of the guys would move the trailer, but....)

They took no time pulling into my drive once I moved my car. And I guess they sent the one Anglophone to speak to me; I can hear guys calling to each other in Spanish. (Around here, roofing is one of the professions Mexican or Central American immigrants go into. It's hard work).

I'm also thinking, when I'm out, maybe I get a magnet and tie it to a string and drag my drive for fallen nails before driving up into it again....the roofers I had all those years back were careful about retrieving fallen nails but I know when the neighbors had the new air-conditioning unit put in I found a couple of sharp bits of metal and some sheet-metal screws in my drive afterward.

But yeah. I mean, part of me wants to say yes, to help the guys out - roofing is a hard job and anything that makes it easier is good. But a big part of me is annoyed at the neighbor for not moving their truck even though they're not home (these are people who apparently are "flipping" the house - they don't actually live there, they are rarely around) and apparently they didn't give a contact number to the roofers? Or maybe they're renting the place but are never home, but it seems odd to me to pay rent on a place you're not going to stay at.

(Something is hysterically funny to the roofers; this is the second time I've heard gales of laughter from them out there. I have no idea if something funny happened - I'm not watching what goes on - and I don't know if someone said something funny because they are speaking Spanish to one another and I don't know any Spanish outside of the few "polite" words (please, thank you, where is the WC, etc.)

But yeah. I'm going to do my daily Duolingo and some piano practice and then go, and plan on being gone most of the day, just to avoid the noise and the chaos, and hopefully when I get home the guys will have left with their trailer.


Edited to add: when I returned home about 3 pm, they had moved the trailer and swept my drive (removing all the pecan catkins and leaves and junk). I presume they did that to be sure no roofing nails wound up in my drive. I was able to garage my car, no problem, so no harm, no foul and I don't regret saying "yes" to the guy.

Still, it's annoying to me that the people who are allegedly living in that house just left their big old truck in the drive. Either they didn't know the roofers were coming (I suppose, if it's a rental house, though if I owned a house I rented out I'd let the tenants know of any maintenance) or they did not care. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Well, here's hoping

Doing my first-ever Amazon return (the item arrived damaged. I ordered a second one from a different seller - for less money! and it came today and was fine). I printed out the shipping label and all for it.

Fortunately I had a box that fit that I could send it back in. I was sitting at my desk this morning contemplating having to run out to the store for a box and thinking "How stupid is it that I might have to spend $4 in order to get a $15 reimbursement?" but then I decided to look at home....and found that the box my Webby Vanderquack came in would work.

I was also lucky on another "hurdle" - I didn't want to have to go to the post office (it's hot, and also our post office isn't exactly air conditioned, and you wind up standing in line FOR EVER) but as I was stepping out the door going "Man, I guess I *have* to" the postal truck was coming up the street so I was able to hand it off to my mail carrier instead.

I'm *slightly* apprehensive as this was a third-party seller who basically backhanded me with "Oh you have to do returns through AMAZON" and I hope they are correct on that.

I don't know. I wish there were some other option for things. I would really rather buy things in person because then you know they're not damaged (this was missing a couple parts - the seller obviously sent it out like that) and yeah, yeah, I know about the dystopia of working at Amazon, but honestly? My only other options are (a) Wal-Mart (which is not much karmically better, and also the local store doesn't carry a lot of things I might want) or (b) wait until I can drive to Sherman, and even then, maybe drive around a lot and maybe not find what I want anyway.

(Confession: this was not a vital item. It was a fun item. So yeah, first world problems and all)

This is why I don't usually like doing things like buying clothes or especially shoes by mail order: the fact that you might have to try two or three times to get the right fit, and have to return stuff.

Edited to add: they already processed the refund! I guess the postal guy scanned the label when I gave him the box, and Amazon got word it had been sent off, and trusted it to get there. So now I have $15 in Amazon scrip to spend, I guess.

(No....looks like they reimbursed my credit card. Well, I'll have to remember to check the statement to be sure I got the refund)

More photos needed

* I have a second dress, and two pairs of socks, and a small crocheted rabbit that I completed over break, and I need to get those photographed. (I am also nearly done with the "Paddington's Garden" shawl, so maybe in a few days I'll have a "while it's blocking" photo)

* I think I have to reiterate - after approving a comment and then deleting it because (a) it was on a VERY old post and, more importantly (b) it wound up to contain a link, presumably to a site selling things - I don't accept advertising on the blog. I don't get paid for doing it (not that I'd want to be) so I feel like I shouldn't let other people use it for advertising.

And yes, I "promote" things on here that I've bought and think are good or that I like, but that feels different. With advertising, unless it's a product you used before the advertising, it feels kind of....sleazy....to me.

* SO DONE with the humidity. My dehumidifier runs almost constantly and I'm emptying it generally three times a day. This equates to about 12 gallons of water sucked out of the air. I know some years ago I read a news story about "wow there's this new innovation that can get water for the desert out of THIN AIR" and I was like "you sillies, that's called a dehumidifier" though maybe in a desert it has to work harder to suck water out of the air than it does in swampy Southern Oklahoma.

But still, yeah, like every eight-year-old has said to their parent, when said parent tried to shame them into eating some gross vegetable with the old "Children back in China are starving!" line "Well, then, let's get an envelope and mail it to them!"

* I think the humidity makes me clumsy. Am dropping things and I tripped over my own feet going back to my closet (which is off my sewing room; the bedroom one is small and only holds dresses) to get a t-shirt for today. Granted, I was still wearing my big heavy tennis shoes from working out and also the room is a mess, but getting your feet tangled in something isn't fun. (At least I didn't fall)

It could also be that this is the first time in several weeks I did the dvd workout (instead of walking or using the cross-country ski simulator) and that works different muscles and...yeah, I'm probably gonna be sore tomorrow.

* They are saying next week the temperatures may drop into the 80s (which is really where they are SUPPOSED to be) but at the expense of heavy rain. Womp womp. I mean, we need rain, but I hate the gullywasher style we so often get.

This year, more than past years, I really notice how badly I miss lower temperatures. The biggest thing is sleeping: one of the things I loved so much about the winter was piling several quilts on the bed and being able to roll up in them and get cozy when reading or before sleeping. Now I'm doing well if it's cool enough to have a sheet over me, and it feels terribly exposed....I think mentally I need something like a "cave" to sleep in, but I also tend to sleep hot, so I can't be physically comfortable with a "cave," but I can't be emotionally comfortable with just a sheet.

And I've pretty much always "slept hot" (I also tend to run hot during the day; I'm the person going "Oh, I'm comfortable, the temperature is FINE" when other people int he room are shivering)

* I was thinking about that "300 small pleasures" thing I've quoted before this morning. One of the "small pleasures" for me being things like cupcake-scented showergel. ("Duschgel mit..." I don't even know what 'cupcake' or "scent" is in German yet). I could smell it this morning in my bathroom from yesterday's shower. And yeah. It's a dumb little thing, and some people might argue that the whole darn world is burning down, so why am I allowed to be happy about cupcake-scented showergel?

And my answer to that is: I don't know, but if I don't find at least a few moments of happiness each day, I won't be functional. (And really, hasn't the whole darn world pretty much always been burning down, and we're just more aware of it now? I don't mean not doing things you can do to improve the situation but the truth is most of us can't do much....)

* One other thing I need to remember to do tomorrow when I go out: pick up a card for my new card swap person. She likes cats and apparently enjoys kayaking, so that gives me something to look for and also ideas of what to write in the card (The idea here is: you send your swap-partner either a postcard or a greeting card, and you write some kind of encouraging or happy message in it, even if it's just writing about what flowers are out where you are. And then you get a card back from someone else)

I also think I'm going to look at the Books a Million or the Target and see if there's any kind of small blindbag toy. I don't know. I don't NEED any more of those but they are another one of those "small pleasures" things for me.

* Summer is just super lonely for me. I realize now how important the little daily interactions were - joking with a colleague in the hall, going down and talking to the secretary while dropping off copying, even some of the interactions with students.

Maybe.....maybe I'm not actually an introvert? Which seems really weird to me. I mean, I can still be happy doing stuff on my own but I need to talk to someone occasionally or I start to feel sad. (Ah well. Next week there will be bell-choir practice again, if nothing else. And Saturday I'm going to be spending a lot of time in the church kitchen.)

I guess I'm glad I became a prof and didn't take a remote research job somewhere where I'd be living in a cabin and only really communicating with my PI every few days.  I know I once joked - and please forgive the rude word here, but there's no way to make the joke work with out it - about a position I saw offered, where you were (among other things) monitoring the basal temperatures of caribou. And I commented to a labmate, "Well, you'd still be working with assholes, but that kind couldn't talk back to you."

But yeah. One of the great paradoxes of life is that people are terrible but they are also sometimes kind of wonderful. And as much as I hate dealing with disagreement or soothing other people's feelings or listening to that person who thinks he knows my subject better than I do, there are also times when someone says something that cracks me up and makes my day immeasurably better, or who listens to me when I'm unhappy about something, or who comes to tell me "Hey I read this thing and I remember you're interested in that thing so let me tell you about what I read."

The sad thing is you can't usually have the connection without the conflict. I find with some really good friends I can manage it without conflict, but with a lot of people you can't.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Early bed, maybe

Well, I am done for the week with meetings where I have to go out and actually discuss things with people and where there might be disagreement.

(Disagreement is the worst. You know how Buddy the Elf said "Smiling is my favorite"? Well, disagreement is my....un-favorite.)

Not many people made it to Elders' meeting. One was out of town for sure, another I guess had had a minor medical procedure, a couple others just weren't there. I made a schedule as best I could (taking into account the needs of the people who WERE there). But I tend to feel like it's unfair to complain at the person scheduling you for scheduling you "badly" if you're not there and don't provide any input (I ask people to e-mail me) about scheduling times.

I confess: I get a little tired of my responsibilities. I don't mind DOING it so much but I do mind that when you're responsible, you are the one people complain to or about when things are suboptimal for them. (I often wind up scheduling myself on holidays, unless someone else offers to take it, on the grounds that it's easier for me just to do it, if I'm in town (so: not Christmas eve) than it is to have someone say "But I wanted to be away that day")

We also had a couple things to decide: raising the price of rentals for non-member weddings (members get the use of the church free but I think the minister and musicians charge, and it's generally good practice to make a donation). We were a good bit cheaper than other local churches, and especially the custodian was quoting too low a price to people, so we raised it to be more in line with what was typical.

And....without going into too much revealing detail, there was another request for regular use of the church we had to turn down. For one reason: it would often be during the week, and a couple of days there's a mother's-day-out program, and we would not know who-all was coming through the church, and making sure the children are safe is a first priority. (This was an issue raised by the local DA, who is a member of our church)  And also, the added wear and tear on the church - oh, the facility would pay us, but we'd need someone to run the sound system and lock up after. We don't have a full-time sexton: we are small, we don't have any retired men sufficiently able-bodied for it, so one of the younger men fits it in around his job. And there's the effort it would place on our custodian; she'd have to vacuum and do other clean-up several times a week instead of just before church.....it's not nice to have to say no, but we had to say no. (I'm glad that the person who is going to deliver the bad news is not me. And it's someone who will do a good job of being diplomatic about it)

(And no, it's not something like AA. It's a business. So they'd be making money)


So yeah. I'm glad to be done.

I came home and did the weekly phone call to my parents, and then was like "Okay, I'm going to stare at some TV to relax" but there was nothing on I wanted to watch (no cartoons I like, no food programs I liked, no vet shows, and I find I can no longer watch some of the medical shows after my dad being in the hospital a couple times....it brings up too many bad memories or worries).

So right now I have a re-run of the Channel 9 6 pm news. We get channel 9(Oklahoma City) but our version of it is just their local news on endless repeat until the next installment of it.

I think local people would revolt if it were taken away. We do have local CBS and NBC and ABC affiliates, but their local newspeople are generally regarded as not-very-good. (I don't know. I can do without Sassy Mama and "Tabloid Truth or Trash" or whatever News 9 calls it - all the filler stuff that some news channels do). I mostly just watch for the weather, and for the occasional "is it safe to leave my house" concerns when I hear of some kind of jailbreak/armed-and-dangerous-person-at-large situation locally.

(And I've faffed long enough that it's almost time for Bob's Burgers re-run if I want to watch that... I really find something oddly endearing about the show. Sometimes it's a little crude - but sometimes it's hysterically funny crudeness - but fundamentally:

- the family members pretty much love each other
- It's a cartoon family where the dad is actually the voice of sanity, as much as there is one
- Bob doesn't put Linda down, nor does she put him down (other than slightly teasingly). It seems like fundamentally a happy marriage, as much as anyone can be happy in this world when they have to work really hard and are on the verge of being evicted
- Louise, despite her supposed hardness and coldness, is fundamentally really just a little kid, and she probably does have a decent core
- There's no one of the kids who's presented as some kind of mini-genius or holier-than-thou (like Lisa Simpson sometimes is written in more recent episodes). They're all kinda dumb kids, but not "too dumb to live" dumb. And maybe they have some kind of undiscovered talent other than in school
- The storylines are frequently JUST absurd enough to walk the line between "Yeah, I could see a real family going through this" and "Ha ha, this is a funny cartoon"
- I like the burger of the day ideas, usually they make me at least chuckle
- The supporting characters are weird and wonderful. Teddy, who is kind of a sad-sack type who is sort of dependent on the Belchers for his social life; Marshmallow, the 6' tall transgender prostitute whom Bob always greets with a very matter-of-fact, "Hey, Marshmallow" no matter what weird situation is happening; the Brothers Fishoeder, who are one part cartoonish supervillain and one part spoiled rich kid and one part that really, really weird guy you don't want to sit next to on the train)


Ugh. I'm trying to reduce (and also cut back on carbohydrates) this summer because

a. I have bloodwork and a checkup coming up
b. I'm less active - I'm not on my feet all day teaching, even if I do keep up with exercise, and it's too hot right now to exercise
c. I just....I need to drop a little weight, I think, as my body (probably) creeps through menopause

The problem is, it seems like every week I decide "that's it, I'm giving up added sugars in food" is a week when, later on, I got "I picked the wrong week to give up added sugars." I wasn't hungry at dinner time so my dinner was a couple servings of vegetables (red cabbage, sweet potatoes, a few french fries - the frozen kind from Kroger are pretty good but recently I found the Ore-Ida waffle fries are even better)

And now I'm hungry again. But I don't have anything particularly easy that appeals to me. I kind of wanted ice cream, but I also know that all the places here that sell it have posted the calorie data (as required by law for chains with at least n outlets, where I forget what n is) and I know I'd go there and look at it and feel upset because "If you have to ask, you can't afford it" and I'd either wind up getting some thing I didn't REALLY want (like, an unsweet tea) instead, or I'd get the ice cream and not enjoy it....and I guess that's the "nudge economy" working like it's supposed to, but I still kind of resent it, that what might have been an occasional treat for me has become an almost-never treat because being reminded "hey that small soft-serve cone is 350 calories!" makes me go, "It's not that good, and think of all the cheese I could eat instead" except I don't really want cheese.

(And the sort of infuriating thing is: people like me who are fundamentally pretty abstemious in our habits and who tend to be a little compulsive, it makes us avoid the little treats even more, but a lot of people will still just ignore it....and so again the rule-followers, I guess, or something, get hurt)

I also hate how our culture messes up women who are a little fattish, like me - and that I'm even agonizing over this.


I'm also reading "I Contain Multitudes" by Ed Yong. One complaint: as is typical of these "layperson" books, it tends to be all over the place and throw a lot of stuff at the wall (figuratively) to see what grabs people's attention (or to show how much he knows, I don't know). But it's also interesting. It's largely about the gut biome, and one thing that's suggested is that thin and fat people may differ in their gut biomes....and that TOTALLY makes me wonder, as a fattish woman who exercises and tries to eat healthfully, but who loses weight slowly at best....maybe I just have a punk gut biome? (How long before we see probiotics aimed at weight loss? I mean, I know they do.....fecal transplants (sorry) for people whose gut biome has been destroyed by a medical problem, couldn't they also do something similar for someone who wants to lose weight (and who has committed to a healthy diet and all that; I don't mean "I want to drink 15 Cokes a day and eat nothing but Chicken McNuggets and still be slim") by taking a probiotic capsule?

I will say the one time I did lose a bunch of weight was in 2016 when I had that stomach thing (I am now wondering if maybe I DID have an infection of H. pylori and a small ulcer that ultimately healed on its own, and the regular probiotic I now take repopulated my gut with different bacteria....). I don't recommend that as a way to lose weight, though; it was pretty miserable and I was also really worried something was SERIOUSLY wrong.


But yeah. Now it's not early for going to bed (not for me) and I'm still....well, I'm either low-level hungry, or I have a lot of feelings that I keep wanting to eat. (That's one of my big problems; when I'm sad or stressed I want to eat). But I'm not sure my veggie dinner will carry me over until morning....

And it's here

My June Doki Doki crate just came.

(I was thinking this morning - "It shipped out on the 28th, shouldn't I be getting it soon?" and contemplated that if it went MUCH longer, I'd have to contact the place)

I follow them on Twitter so I have a vague idea of what's in it; the theme is Sparkling Summer. (I tend to skip over the tweets showing stuff, I like to be surprised.).

So anyway, here goes the opening...

A small little "Sumikkogurashi" ("Things in the corner" - it's a group of characters) ice pack thing. Nice. This will work well for my lunch kit in the future (right now I can come home for lunch, and I do) and it would also work as a "boo-boo treatment" or for headaches....and it doesn't take up much room in the freezer.

A koozy sort of thing with Mt. Fuji on it. Bemused expression is because I don't really drink beverages in bottles or cans, so I don't really need a koozy.

Maybe it becomes a sleeping bag for a small stuffie? Or I repurpose it by cutting and sewing to make either a Pony vest or a sweater for one of my Barbies?

Wow. So terrycloth. Much absorb. It's one of those small towel things, it would work as a hand towel in my bathroom or even an "emergency" hair towel.

Clear (and stinky, I will have to hang it up outside for the plastic smell to dissipate) Pompompurin bag. I presume the idea is for carrying your swimsuit and stuff....I might be more prone to use it to hold knitting stuff.

No stuffie this time :(

But there is a Rilakkuma glass (a real glass, made of glass):

"I don't always drink out of decorated glasses, but when I do, they have cartoon characters on them"?

I think my favorite things are the towel (cuteness) and the freezer-gel-pack thing (usefulness).

Wednesday morning things

* One more evening meeting this week where I have to leave the house and deal with multiple other people. (Piano lesson doesn't really count because it's just my teacher, she's cool, and she comes to my house). I'm ready for this week to be done. (Except this coming Monday I have a dental checkup, ugh)

* I am surprisingly sore (arms and upper back) from the bell choir rehearsal last night. I guess if you did that a lot you'd tone up your arms? Despite the director saying "you use your wrists mainly," I can tell that I'm using my forearms and shoulders and also maybe my upper back a little. It's an unfamiliar movement compared to what I usually get in exercise...

It's fun though. The time goes fast because I find I am concentrating so hard on what I'm doing. The bells I have (E5 and D5) are used a lot in the piece we're playing, so I am having to ring nearly every measure. They're mostly harmony tones so I don't get to carry the melody (the higher smaller bells have that; I think she gave me some of the bigger ones because I'm younger and have stronger hands - the biggest bells were given to the only man in the group).

(And again, a little sad: people talked about Steve and I KNOW if he were still here, he'd be all OVER doing bell choir, and he'd have us ROTFL over something during rehearsals. Oh well, that's life....)

* I have decided for sure that Friday I am going to go to Sherman - to the Ulta, probably to JoAnn Fabrics, there's some stuff I need at Target, and I can do a grocery run. I am also thinking maybe, given the unstructuredness of my summer, that I take each Friday or Saturday (depending on the week) and go do something "fun" that involves getting out of my house - whether it's going shopping, or meeting up with a friend (Laura and I still have tentative antiquing plans, I think), or going to a museum somewhere, or if the Native Plant Society has anything that doesn't involve driving from OKC or Tulsa late at night (their regular meetings tend to be evenings, which does not work for me)...

Even just getting out to some of the small towns that have at least one antique shop or one quilt shop would be something. I will have to kind of hunt around and see if there's anything in the places within a not-too-difficult drive of me but that I never go to.

* I've also kind of decided: this summer I am going to use to work on refreshing my teaching; the pilot study with the decomposers I will probably start in August, when it's starting to cool down (ha) and maybe rain a little again (double ha). From my past work with soil inverts, the summer is not always a profitable time to research them....I'm hoping that's not shooting myself in the foot for the next post-tenure review, but I do have one paper (with a student, no less) out this year, and another one that SHOULD be out shortly, and I'm co-author on one in review.

Good heavens how I hate the ratcheting-up of expectations on those kind of things. I know it's a trick: if you're never sure you're doing "enough," you will just keep on working and working until you drop.

I'm also half contemplating, if I can recruit a student early this fall to help me, going back out and resampling the "grassland" area my first grad student and I sampled back in 2001 or so, and comparing how it's changed (degraded) over time: it's got invaded by viney stuff and lespedeza, or at least that's my anecdotal observation, and I think it might be interesting to document that for sure. (Or if I can recruit someone over the summer; if my other fieldwork colleagues are ever in I might ask them if they have anyone who either wants a little field experience or who wants to make some money - yes, I'd be willing to pay a student cash to help me if that was what it took. I'm guessing 3-4 half-days of work would be what it would take, which might be about $150 or so out of pocket for me. And anyway, when you pay cash like that, sometimes people are a little less willing to worry about the strictly "Well, but I can make $8 at the McDonald's flipping burgers" and accept something a little less, I don't know.)

Or we could do it in the early fall and they could earn research credit hours for it. That would probably be the ideal situation. (Or, failing all the rest of that? Plan it out for NEXT summer in detail and recruit a couple students and redo the WHOLE 2001 study with the idea that "this site has extensively flooded twice in the intervening years, so let's see how both the forests and the grasslands have changed")

The fact that I even have a second research idea tells me that when I'm not involved with the upkeep of classes, my brain relaxes enough that it can be creative. Maybe summers can be for planning research and the rest of the year for executing it?

* I pulled out the yarn (and pattern book) for the long-stalled "Heartthrob" and started on her second leg - I have the rest of that leg to do, then both the back legs, then ears and wings, and then assembly. I do want to try to be disciplined in my projects and finish up a lot of the half-finished stuff hanging around - I need to pick the owl sweater back up again, and I need to finish Augusta....

but I also want to start stuff. I bought the Anaheim pattern for the green "Mango" yarn my AAUW compatriot gave me. And I want to keep going on the new quilt top I started cutting on the other day. And make more quilt tops.

I've also been quilting a little on the quilt I have in the frame, I would like to finish that and prep another one for the frame. (I keep thinking: I need to take a day, maybe a Saturday, when nothing is going on down at church and use the big expanse of the Fellowship Hall floor to lay out a couple of quilts where I have the *blocks* done, but don't have space at home to do a proper layout. If I were REALLY into it, I could haul my machine down there and sew from the layout but I don't know, it's probably just easier to stack up the blocks and take them home. And also, when I get to the point of making the next quilt sandwich for the frame, it would be better to do it down there....)

I wish we still had enough people in church with the time/motivation to do crafts that we could have monthly craft meetups. I don't think there's anyone there now that is as involved with doing sewing/quilting/knitting/crochet on a regular basis like I am. Part of that is time constraints: the few younger mothers are busy with their kids and work, some of the older women watch grandkids or have unwell husbands to look after....

It would be nice, though, just to have a monthly Saturday drop-in craft morning, where you could bring whatever you were working on and just have companionship. I think part of the reason the one we had wound up fizzling out was that there was the push to also *have food* and some people got a little caught up in the "Oh, what do I make and take" thing and that became a barrier. If I were running it, I'd set it to start enough after usual breakfast time that people wouldn't feel obligated....I might say "bring a sack lunch for yourself if you want one" but not push to make it a potluck or some such because that does become a barrier to busy people.

No, I'm not going to try to start one, I have enough irons in the fire. I'm just saying it would be nice if it existed. It wouldn't have to be a church-specific thing (though down here a lot of the sort of low-key social stuff like that seems to come under the auspices of a church) but it would be nice to have some building - ideally with big tables and a large expanse of floor, and enough outlets in case people want to bring sewing machines and even an iron and ironing board - where there was something like that. (And while I'm dreaming: have the drop in be EVERY Saturday instead of monthly, with the expectation that people won't come to *all* of them but people can come and go as they wish).

But yeah.....maybe that's another retirement-time idea, to try to spearhead something like that, if it doesn't exist. (It might, and I just don't know about it, because during the school year I'm so busy).

I will also say that I've seen some of the smaller longarm quilters set up at a shop and..... I could probably make space in my house for one. No, not yet, I don't have time, but that might be my big retirement celebration when retirement rolls around: buy one and go whereever I have to go to take classes in using it. When I was at Quilt Mercantile (a shop in Celeste, Texas) last, they had one set up and apparently would let people take a try at doing it, but I was tired and really just wanted to use the rest room and buy a little fabric and get back on the road, but....maybe some time this summer I do that as a thing? I call in advance and say "Hey I know you have these things, could I make an appointment to try one out?"

(If I wanted to be really greedy and perhaps a bit foolhardy, I could ask my dad for the money to buy one....like I said earlier, he's helping my brother and sister-in-law get a new car. But a big part of me balks at that, and anyway, I'm not ready for it yet. But I do want one eventually)

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

One more vintage

This was the real prize among the bag of vintage doll clothes and I think it's why I bought the bag in the first place:

vintage Barbie sweater

Cardigan sweater, knit out of a pale duck-egg blue fingering-weight yarn (I think it is wool: probably sock yarn). It looks like it was knit from hem to hem, with the sleeves made by casting on a lot of stitches at the bottom of the sleeve (at any rate: there is no armhole seam, and the direction of the knitting on the sleeves is consistent with them being made that way). The under arms of the sleeves almost looks like it's grafted, rather than sewn. And then there are the beads-and-sequins as decorations....

It doesn't really match with anything I currently have for the dolls so that's why there's a kind of awful pink knit dress on under it.

 And this is Cinnamon's current outfit. It was a random Amazon purchase, though if I'd waited and looked at the Wal-Mart I might have got it for a better deal....unfortunately the Target and Wal-mart here are very hit-and-miss about this kind of thing, and if there's something I see that I want online, it's sometimes better to order it.

random barbie outfit

The outfit did NOT come with the shoes, but those little t-strap blue shoes from the "Tall/Curvy shoe pack" work, and they are my FAVORITES that came in that pack.

I really think the curvy Barbies look better in the clothes than the conventional slimmer ones. Maybe that's because I'm closer in shape to them, I don't know. Or maybe they have a tiny bit more realism. (I know there have been attempts to make a "realistic scale fashion doll - there's the Lammily, which seems much-despised on the doll blogs, and there was one before her, more than 20 years ago now, that I forget the name of. But they never looked that good because in toy size, you have to exaggerate some things, I think: a strict scaling-down of a human body would have too short a neck, or too-big feet, or something, in the smaller size).

Unfortunately, the few articulated curvies out there get snapped up REALLY fast, either by resellers who then inflate the prices, or by doll modders who then remove the heads, or take the dolls apart, or whatever. I get that that's their right but it's frustrating to never be able to find a product that should be abundant.....

And yeah, the joints being visible. I remember the rubbery-legged Barbies of old with the click-click knee joints. My understanding is that a lot of them, the plasticizer went bad over time, so the old dolls are now sticky. And I remember some of my friends, the knee joint would break after you played with it too much (or your brother grabbed it and overextended the joint too much) and then you'd have a sad Barbie with a leg that just flopped, and they don't have replacement knees for dolls. I don't mind the "in pieces" joints like the modern dolls have; they seem more likely to be sturdy and hold up, and they hold a pose better. I admit I am annoyed that the standard "Fashionista" dolls, some of which have kind of cool outfits, don't come articulated. (Again, some of the doll-modders will buy a fashionista and an articulated doll and rip the head and clothes off the fashionista, and put them on the articulated body.)

Naming it more

Without giving too much specifics to it, I think a lot of my melancholy is tied to the whole thing of people taking a dislike to someone for whatever minor reason* and, as a result, choosing to cut themselves off from people who either are friends with that person, or who don't share the same dislike. Or, worse, trying to sow dislike of the person THEY dislike among the others.

(*I acknowledge that avoiding people who are cruel, abusive, dishonest, whatever is a good self-preservation strategy, but I am NOT talking about this)

The older I get the more I suspect that most of us never leave the schoolyard behind fully. While trying to do some reading this morning (in the service of updating my ecology lectures for the fall), the intrusive thought came about this. And it brought with it a visceral memory of the playground:

"Why are you friends with That Person? Why do you like That Person?"

Judgementalism starts early. As does wanting to run someone else's life, I guess.

And all too often, it seemed - though really, it was probably one particular situation in my life, though it feels like it happened more than once:

"I won't be your friend any more if you keep being friends with That Person."

And, understand: this was no kind of abusive situation. The That Person was not, say, an ex-boyfriend of the girl telling me not to pal around with them. That Person had not done anything to the other person, other than exist and maybe have some kind of annoying quirk.

But yeah: "I won't be your friend any more unless you drop them as a friend" is an awful weight to put on a little kid. How do you decide? It's like Sophie's Choice, in a way. And of course, I also had the fear of "what if I pick the wrong person and they stop being my friend anyway? Then I've lost BOTH friends."

I suppose the WWKSD (what would King Solomon do?) version of it would be to loftily say, "Then neither of you shall be my friend" and walk away from both of them, but I was a little kid DESPERATE for all the friends I had and the thought of losing one was agony.

I managed, somehow, by heavily compartmentalizing when and how I spent time with both, to keep both friendships up, and eventually the white-hot dislike that one person had seemed to cool, but....it still baffles me. Was it simple childhood jealousy? That my friend wanted me EXCLUSIVELY as her friend? (I find that hard to accept: I was not that wonderful or clever or whatever a playmate as a child). Did That Person offend my friend in some way I was totally unaware of? Was it simple childhood dictatorial passion? (You cannot convince me that many small children do not have a strong tyrannical streak that they badly need to grow out of).

But yeah. One of the discomforts in my life right now is that two people in my circle apparently dislike each other, and I cannot see why, and it both frustrates me and makes me sad, because I have to wind up trying to explain-without-really-explaining to other people who don't understand the situation why those two people should not be made to interact, and I find it just exhausting.

And it also irritates me, I admit, because at such a young age I got over that kind of thing....there are lots of things about lots of people that low-level bug me, but almost never is there a person whose flaws seems so extreme that I won't spend time with them. In fact, there are people in my circle who DO grate on my nerves, but they have other good qualities and I'm not going to ice someone out just because of my own personal preferences and....ugh. It's just, to me it feels like another instance of how I was taught growing up to "just deal with it" or "get over your hurt feelings" or whatever, and some days now it feels like I'm the only person capable of doing that. (And of course, I'm called on to soothe hurt feelings of others, but NO ONE EVER KNOWS when my own feelings are hurt (and I suspect some of them might either be baffled or not care that much).

So I don't know. I suppose some of this is the "Emotional Labor" junk that some women are saying we should rebel against. I don't know. A big part of me kind of plants her feet and goes, "No. I would rather swallow my own bitter feelings and have peace around me than let people know what I am really thinking and feeling and have to deal with the ultimate fallout" (though again that might hark back to the old threat of "I won't be your friend any more if....")

Why are people so blamed DIFFICULT? I just don't understand it.

Got home for lunch; the mail had been. In it, a solicitation for donations from Special Olympics.

And ironically (given the mood I'm in and the musings I've had), the back of the envelope said "Thank you for accepting us just as we are."

And....yeah. I get the point they are making there but sometimes I think maybe my unwillingness to call people out on some of the things they do (because I dislike conflict and I dislike turmoil) means I accept worse behavior than I should.

(That said, given the serendipity of the sentiment - I didn't throw the solicitation in the trash and maybe I even send them a few dollars. I never have before, but.)

Tuesday morning melancholy

I wasn't out around people much yesterday, but the time I was, it was enough for me.

I said the other day how I tend to be an "arms-length" sort of person? I realized yesterday part of a reason for that (and also why I tend not to follow on social media, or read many news stories about, actors/musicians/etc. whose work I enjoy).

It's hard to learn about people's feet of clay. Or at least it's hard for me. All the times when I say "I hate humanity," that's really shorthand for "I feel like people could be better than they are, but they aren't, and people disappoint me." I know I have excessively-high standards in some ways, but still.

I learned some...stuff...about other people I know yesterday (well, second-hand, but the sources are reliable. And this is also why I don't gossip....). One of the things is kind of silly, but still makes me a little dismayed. The other thing was more serious and I was kind of sad.

I dunno. I also realized late yesterday night (woke up to go to the bathroom, couldn't get back to sleep) about all the responsibility I carry, about how I will step up and offer to do something if no one else is or especially pick up a task someone else rejects. I'm doing it because I think people will like me for it. Or that they will dislike me if I'm not doing the maximum possible.

I think that's why I get low-level irritated with people who either won't take on responsibilities, or who drop responsibilities they have. Oh, in a lot of cases, it's that there's a good reason and if I know that reason I can forgive it - but there are also people who just don't want responsibility and who manage to evade it somehow. And I'm over here carrying a lot, or what feels like a lot, and I'm just kind of tired and sad.

I mean, yeah - when I'm doing well I can say "People seem to like me" but when I'm not doing so well I feel like "you need to do everything you're doing well and maybe take on more stuff because if you slack maybe people will stop liking you." I don't know when or where I learned that friendship/love are always conditional, but it's a hard thing to shake, even as I realize I am doing a disservice to my friends by believing that they would stop loving me that easily, but....

I dunno. I'm sure part of this is related to the fact that it's already July-hot and it's also incredibly humid and I kind of hurt all over and breathing is a little uncomfortable. And that I feel like I'm not getting enough done at work but also am not really having *fun* and a lot of things seem kind of like an extra effort because of the heat.


I need to get in to the office in a few minutes and work this morning. Yesterday, I didn't....first, I had to run to the grocery store to get food for a thing, and then I had to do piano practice, and then I started faffing on the internet, and then I wanted to do laundry....and it wound up with me not going to the office at all.

I also need to figure out a time to get to Sherman. I'm almost out of one cosmetic product I use that the Ulta carries, and anyway, I just want to go to the Ulta and kind of wander its aisles because for me, it's like a lower-level version of Holly Golightly going to Tiffany's: you feel as if not much bad could happen there. And I need the tiny bit of self-indulgence that buying some kind of fancy hairpins or new facial masque brings.

And I need to get to the natural-foods store, and I probably need to go to the Kroger again - I didn't buy anything frozen the trip there back from Mineola, because I was fearful about "what if my fridge quit while I was gone" and how I'd deal with keeping THAT food from spoiling while cleaning up the food that HAD spoiled.

I also want/need to get out antiquing soon. (Really, it's a want, but sometimes some of my wants, if I put them off long enough, they begin to feel like needs, at least for my mental health. I also kind of wish I had someone to go out antiquing out with on a regular basis. It's fine by myself but having a friend along does sometimes make it more fun, especially if you see something that is either really beautiful or really hideous and just want to share it with someone).

I might go Friday morning, I don't know. This is a busy week: tonight is handbell practice, tomorrow night is Board meeting, Thursday is piano lesson, Saturday I will be at church much of the day as it's Gordon's memorial service and I volunteered to help with the family lunch (But no, this time I volunteered to do that not because I wanted people to like me for it, but because I wanted to do it. I always liked Gordon and I like his wife Glenna and as I've said before, it seems to me that serving lunch to the family at a funeral or memorial service seems like a very tangible kind thing you can do in that person's memory, and so it's important to me to do so whenever I can). I have to make about 20 small ham-and-cheese sandwiches. My plan is to get the small Hawaiian bread buns (Pruett's has them) and some good deli ham and swiss cheese and just assemble them at home (and I won't put any condiments on them; we can have mustard and mayo at the table for the people who want it)

I did start cutting fabric for the next quilt very briefly last evening; it is an older Quilty pattern called "Hello, Garden" which is kind of a 9-patch style, but modified so the "focus fabric" in each block forms a plus sign. It's another one of those made to be done with a Jelly Roll of fabrics, and I feel like I need to be working down some of those sets of precuts I've bought. I also have decided that I'm just going to make quilt tops, and not worry too hard about "which one do I feel like making next?" but grab the fabric and pattern that's closest at hand and do that. (I do have a few cases where I have fabric set aside for a particular pattern, though, too).

I was happy while working on that. Maybe that's what I need: more time when I feel like the only person I have to please is myself. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

My new shoes....

These were a TOTAL impulse purchase. Someone posted about these on Ravelry, and I saw them, and wanted them. They're about $40, and I'm considering it part of the use of my "summer bonus" (We all got 1.5% of our base salary - in my case, a bit over $700 after taxes and deductions - as a bonus, because my uni has the money now, and because the uni president says he wanted to thank people for bearing up so well under the budget cuts).

Anyway - I needed a new pair of Mary Jane type shoes, and so I thought I'd give Hot Chocolate a try. (These were on sale. Most of their shoes run closer to $70, which is maybe kind of a lot for what you get, as I'll note later....)

They came today - they offer free 2-day shipping. I don't know if that's a special thing right now, or if it's a "first-time customer" thing or an always thing. But I think I ordered these Friday and they were here today which is super fast.

And they come packaged in a really cute way:


It's like a milk carton! Which makes them easy to ship but maybe isn't want you really want IF you keep your shoes in their original boxes, because the things holding it closed (like plastic snaps) kind of break when you open it. Or maybe I opened too forcefully...

The shoes are cloth. That's good from some standpoints but it also tells me I won't be able to wear them on days when we're likely to get downpours because I suspect they'd get ruined from getting heavily wet - on the carton it suggests using an art eraser to clean them if they get lightly soiled, or to gently surface wash with a dampened and very wrung-out washcloth if they're heavily soiled. I am guessing the paint on them isn't super sturdy.

They remind me a lot of the little cheap "Chinese cloth shoes" that I bought at an import shop in Akron and wore a lot during my high school years (and probably that's why my ankles and knees are not the greatest any more; those shoes had no support). That's why I said the $70 price tag might be a bit much for what you get, given the construction. (I do think these are better made though than the Chinese "peasant woman" shoes I used to buy for $5 - the soles in particular are sturdier).

I bought a size 38 and they are a tiny bit loose on me with pantyhose:


The toebox is very wide so if you suffer from bunions or ingrown toenails these actually might be a good choice of shoes - possibly part of the "loose" feel to me is that many of my closed dress shoes have a tighter toe box. Also, I may try the orthotics I am really supposed to wear and see if they will fit in these - they might take up a little of the looseness and that would give more support.

These might be better as "church" shoes. 

I'm not sure these would be great teaching shoes - they are kind of flat, and they seem not to have much padding, and when you're on your feet for four or more hours a day on floors that are a thin layer of tile over concrete, you need a little padding on your feet.

I originally bought these with the thought of wearing with handknit socks in the fall/winter, on days that are cold enough where slacks seem a smarter fashion choice than a skirt. But I think these would be awfully cute with the right dress.

Unfortunately, the pink M. Mac dress I have on today doesn't REALLY match that well with the orange butterflies....but I still might wear the shoes to CWF tonight.

shoes 2

Sunday, June 10, 2018

So, huh, comments

While washing my hair, I thought, "Wow, I haven't had many comments lately" and part of me thought, "Well, you never have had tons" and another part of me thought "Well, people don't read blogs like they once did" but based on my stats, I have about as many pageviews as ever.

And I thought about it more, and contemplated: what if I de-moderate comments? Might people who don't like the moderation process be more prone to comment, or would I be deluged with spam I'd have to delete.

And then I thought: well, doesn't Blogger notify me via e-mail when a comment comes in?

Apparently, not always. I looked in the "awaiting moderation" queue on here, and found.....several real comments that I was never notified of. Sorry about that! They are up now, if you commented and wondered where it went. (There were also a couple bits of spam). I guess I have to start checking the "awaiting moderation" and "spam" bins on Blogger now.

So if you do comment, and it doesn't show up right away, that's what's going on.

Three doggy views

This is the first of two toys (picture of the other coming later) that I made over break. The pattern is a freebee from Deramores/The Yarn Loop/Amanda Berry: Deradogs Greyhound.

Mine came out looking maybe a bit more like a wolf-dog hybrid (I used a dark grey Vanna's Choice I had on hand), and for a while I was considering calling him Wolfie, but then thought of the name "Loki" and it kind of stuck.

(There's some discussion on ITFF about "Never name a pet Loki because then he will live up to the trickster reputation" but I think with a stuffed toy, I'm safe)


It was, as I remember, a straightforward enough pattern to follow. Again, like many (too many, IMHO - I do not get the anti-dpn prejudice of some) toy patterns, it's knit flat and seamed. (And I didn't feel up to trying to convert it for knitting in the round, though that would save the seaming - and at the end, I ran short of the yarn, so I had to seam with embroidery floss that doesn't quite match.  (At least I had enough to complete the toy).

I pretty much followed the pattern as written; the only change was using a roughly worsted-weight acrylic instead of the recommended dk. (worsted-weight is a tiny bit heavier and thicker; the typical gauge is closer to 4.5-5 sts to the inch instead of the 5.5 that a dk has, though gauges do vary and I used the same needle size as the pattern recommended). The nose is also knitted and I decided not to try to do a more-detailed face than what the original pattern had; sometimes less is more.

One aspect I like, but is hard to see in photos, is that the eyes have a little glitter in them:

Loki eyes

And I got those at the JoAnn Fabrics, not from some specialty Etsy seller! I guess the fad for glitter-backed eyes that Ty started on some of their pre-made stuffies has spread. (The glittery part are special fabric backers that go over the post of the eye - take them off and they are just plain blue eyes. Perhaps a person could do similar to plain eyes if you had a heavy paper with glitter on it.... or painting the underside of the eye with glitter nail polish, though that might eventually chip off)

The pattern also includes a collar, which is held closed with a button. I grabbed one out of my mom's button box; I think it originally was on an older set of pajamas she had and might date back to the 1970s:

Loki collar

He's a pretty good size.

Oh, and he has a tail, in case anyone wondered:

Something going on

I'm not sure what's up with me. I did have a borderline migraine last evening and sometimes in the aftermath of that, it affects my moods.


- In the wake of the high-profile celebrity deaths this week (esp. how they died), I am thinking of my cousin Tom Nelson again and feeling sad. (Dangit, brain, that happened FIFTEEN YEARS ago. Please learn to let go of that particular grief. Though I guess it's true that grief is like a scar - it hurts badly right after the wound, and gradually hurts less and less over time, and sometimes you might even forget about it, but then something bumps the scar, and you hurt all over again).

- Driving to church, I have to pass the house that belonged to Steve. There was a big Estate Sale sign in front of it. (No, I'm not going, it will make me too sad, even if there might be something that later on would bring up good memories)

- The really baffling one, though, is this: someone joined church this morning. It's someone who's visited for a while - she was a member here years before I came, when she was young, but after marriage and family, moved her membership to a different church. Now widowed, she's back here - and she's become kind of a friend of mine*

(*I never know where to draw the line. As I said on Twitter: I have not really had someone I'd openly declare as "my bestie" since I was 13 or so, and I never know, because I tend to be an arms-length kind of person so I sometimes wonder if people I regard as "kind of close friends" think of me as a "friendly acquaintance" because I tend not to be all up in people's business like some friends are)

Anyway, she joined. (Rejoined? I guess that's a better word for it). And dangit, but I started tearing up. Why? I don't know. It's fundamentally a happy thing - we have another person making a formal commitment to being here**

(**One of the problems I think in this day and age is that people tend to be afraid of making formal commitments and would rather kind of hang out on the fringes of groups - not having to take on responsibilities. Not just in churches, but I've also seen civic groups where people came to some of the meetings and then just totally ghosted on us. And I recognize I'm an oddball in some ways because I was brought up by parents with a strong sense of "If you're gonna do something, you need to commit to it" and also being single and childless, I CAN commit to things without worrying about "but how will I get my son to baseball practice?" - actually, a comment I read somewhere today about the death of golf courses was that "fun" now has become so kid-oriented that parents don't do things that their kids don't take part in - so maybe it's a different form of commitment, but it's one that leaves longstanding civic groups in the dust, and also leads to childless people like me kind of on the outside of everything)

But anyway: I teared up. And the bad thing about this? Minutes later, I'd have to pray at the table as an Elder. I managed to get it together, thankfully....but it often baffles me when something hits me like that.

And it's also good I had pulled it together because after church a small group of us were talking and she remarked that one of the reasons she came back here (left the congregation she had been in when her husband was alive and kids were young) was that after her husband died, she kept feeling like the people there saw her as "half of a whole."

And I kind of gasped. (And granted: sometimes a person's perception is different from what the people they are perceiving intend, but...) I hope I've never done that to anyone who was widowed/divorced/broke up with a long term partner. I don't think I have. But I can see that happening sometimes, especially in the little microculture that exists in my town - the vast majority of people, it seems, are coupled up in some way.

And yeah. That's one thing about the congregation I'm part of: they don't seem to do that. And I'm sensitive to the "uncoupled" aspect of it, having been so all my life. I mean, a few people have jokingly said "we need to find you a man" and I've laughed along, and I wouldn't reject a "set up" if the guy were a decent guy....but also neither has anyone been forthcoming with a single brother or cousin or some such. But it's still OK that I'm here even though I haven't followed the path most women follow, and to be honest, there have been some groups in town where I visited and got the distinct sense it wasn't OK for me to be there, apparently rubbing my single-childlessness in people's faces, or something.

 (We also, being what you might call a more "progressive" denomination, are one of the relatively few religious groups in town where people who are openly gay are welcomed).

But yeah....interestingly, the sermon this morning was based on the Ethiopian eunuch (in other words: someone who was very much an outsider being welcomed into the fold). And maybe that influenced her, that this was the week - rather than some other - to come forward.

However, on a happier note - one of the things she said to me upon seeing me walking: "Oh, you were missed!" (while I was out of town). I think it is important for people to hear that; to me it reminds me that I matter to these people and maybe it goes a little way to, if not slaying, perhaps diminishing the internal dragons I have, that were spawned back in grade school. I remember when I was a kid being excluded (a case of a girl in my class inviting EVERY GIRL BUT ME to her birthday party, and making a point about that) or bullied, or sometimes told "No one wants you around here, why are you hanging around?" and the truth is, for the much-vaunted resilience of children - they internalize that crap. I know I did. How many times I tortured myself, especially when younger, with the thought that, "Those people are just tolerating having you around to be polite, they don't really want you there" and while, intellectually, I know that's stupid - and also is a disservice to my friends, who were and are good people - still, emotions are often illogical, and scream loudly, even as one's logical brain tells them, "Stop being silly, of course that's not true."

I still do it to myself on occasion, though far less than I did when I was younger. (I have said from time to time that one of the few blessings of aging is realizing I'll never have to be a teenager again, and I stand by that. I doubt that very many people really experience "the best years of their lives" as a teen, and it seems cruel to make that claim to someone, because can you imagine a bullied kid hearing that, and thinking, "Wow, it's only going to get worse?")

But it does help. It does help to have people tell you they missed you when you were gone, or that they're glad you're here, or any of the hundred tiny kindnesses that people who are fundamentally decent people do for others. (And again: I hope I do that for other people enough in my life).

And also my one colleague who was present (because he is teaching this summer), on Thursday when I went in to the office, said "Oh, you're back! I missed you!" and yes that matters a lot to me. Probably more than he realized when he said it. Even though we might not interact that much beyond saying hello or a little bit of the semi-meaningless water-cooler type chat - knowing that people notice when I'm not around somehow makes a difference.


Another random thought, something I've been thinking about. There is a documentary about Mr. Rogers coming out soon, and a lot of people have been talking about it. And someone quoted another essay about him on this MetaFilter post and I just found myself nodding kind of hard, the writer was taking on the fact that some adults refer to Fred Rogers' style as "creepy":

"We are conditioned to traffic in cool. You have to look cool, not look nice or distinguished or presentable, but cool. But it's all so generic. Everyone seems to have the same new haircut that no one 5 years ago had. We all have the same cynical politics.

Something about the counterculture from the 60's is still with us but it has been co-opted into a form of synchronized periodic obsolescence and mockery of that which came before. There is something fundamentally anti-intellectual about this, but I can't quite articulate it. There some element of arrogance there. Like everyone is perpetually 18."

I think this is very true. And perhaps the reason I have failed to "fit in" in some places is that I can't "do" cool - I can't "fake" cool because whatever my own specific brand of non-neurotypicalism is (I don't think I'm on the autism spectrum, but there IS something odd about my brain), I just can't do that: I'm too literal minded and too prone to take things at face value and too prone to totally and utterly LOVE, and love without a trace of ironic detachment, the things I love.

The guy goes on:

"Cool is America's code, and I really do think this is an American problem, because cool is propagated mainly though mass media, and there is no greater media saturated culture on earth than America's. Will I look cool wearing this? Will I sound cool saying this, or reading this or doing this. We're committing mass murder in other parts of the world because somebody figured out how to make violence cool and tough-talk politics cool, and then they combined the too. Swagger is cool. Cowboys and fighter jets and JDAMs and war porn are cool. So that's what we have. We are the Kingdom of Whatever. "

Which seems to me to be a much smaller and sadder place than "The Kingdom of Make-Believe" And about Rogers' effort, all the work he put in:

"Of course he hated ad-libbing on camera, because ad-libbing on camera is inexcusably lazy. It's what you do so you don't have to write or rehearse. Actors and comedians and musicians improvise as a way of living within a moment that is in some way artificial. A method actor may improvise because he is trying to become the character, but he isn't the character to begin with. A Jazz musician improvises because while the structure and the changes are the same, and the audience is familiar with them, the particular moment of performance is not, and that has it's own emotional context.

Mister Rogers was the same guy, so why improvise? The show wasn't about his character, it was about the kids, os you have to work out ahead of time how best to communicate with the child viewers. Everything was planned.

He talks slowly not because kids are dumb but because as studies have shown, children's brains are considerably more active than adults', and they need time to return to the original thought communicated to them after branching off in multitudinous directions.

The puppets? Puppets are good because they are considerably smaller than the human actors around them, and thus kids perceive them as safe. They look like toys. Contrast this with a giant seven foot all yellow bird, and ask yourself which inspired more nightmares.

The show is glacially paced and had the same structure with the same things happening in the same order because children respond to structure and routine is a source of comfort, particularly in children whose lives were anything but predictable.

Maybe that's what cool is - withdrawing from the context of one's life into an artificial one, in which the cool perceives itself to be somehow outside of reality, looking in and commenting on it. But this isn't insight, it's not reflecting on the world. It's standing at the edge of the world sniping into it.

Mister Rogers isn't creepy. CSI with is gruesome bloody corpses every Thursday at promptly 9:14 EST is creepy. Thirty million people looking at that and snaking on chips while they watch is creepy"

He's right, of course. I care less about seeming "cool" than I was years and years ago, when I was younger. Part of it was realizing that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't fake it, and the point of "cool" is it is absolutely not something you can fake, people will see through you in an instant, and it's worse - in terms of being ridiculed - to be fake-cool than it is to be genuinely geeky or dorky or whatever term is used now for an uncool person. Part of it is I just flat care less, because the people who would ridicule me for being uncool are people who really don't matter, and the truth is, often when someone is poking fun at someone else's uncoolness, they are, as we say now "punching down," and it tells you more about that person and their lack of class or compassion than it does about the nerdy person being ridiculed.

But part of it also is the realization that sometimes being kind and low-key and forgiving and all that stuff - in some ways, Fred Rogers was a radical example of that (the writer of the comment also cites "The Pope," and I presume he meant John Paul II, going into the cell of the man who shot him to speak with him and presumably offer forgiveness. And to me, in my mind, that's a more radical and brave thing than any stupid punk-ass (sorry) "cool" things the perpetually immature might do)

I dunno. I am still in some ways trying to find my own way through this world, and I don't always succeed at the "kindness is better and ultimately takes more strength than joining the Snark Brigade to pile on to someone or something" part of it, and I am not always good at reminding myself that person who might snicker at me for being chubby or an old maid or a little odd or whatever is telling me more about themselves than they are telling about me....but at my best I can.