29 August 2006

Flip Flops No More

Do you ever have one of those moments where a Sex and the City episode happens in real life? Although I didn't get to pick which episode I wanted to be in, last night I got to be Carrie, just for a few.

There's a brief moment that stuck in my memory when Carrie reaches for a blanket in the middle of the night and comments about that act that happens every year, about this time, when you want to sleep with the window open and listen to the breeze or in my case, the rain, but you have to get an extra blanket.

Fall's coming... and that makes me a very, very happy girl.

But I've already told you that fall is my favorite season... and I won a prize for it.

Patty, my gracious Secret Pal 8 hostess, chose my name as one of her bookmark/stitch marker winners for answering a set of questions. She even coordinated her beading with my favorite colors. Thanks, Patty! I've already put the bookmark in my bedtime book to remind me of the quickly passing days of flip flop wearing.

27 August 2006

Ahoy, Mateys!

Well, I don’t know how the other boxes are faring, but poor Henry the Navigator has had his first adventure. While I was lolly-gagging about in bed this week (with a fever, not with any company, dirty minded mother!), seems poor Henry was being held hostage in the depths of that scary, uncharted territory… my local post office. Shoot, Henry thought he’d done something when he’d discovered his way ‘round Africa and established trading routes with the Indies, but boy he learned a lot in [insert scary, ominous music] the back room, where commoners fear to tred.

Luckily Kari and Amanda were on his trail and roused me from my sleeping-sock knitting-drooling coma to tend to our wayward sailor. And we all know nothing makes a girl feel better than knowing she has sock yarn awaiting her!

So, with much finagling, bartering, pleading, whining, and such silliness, I was able to convince the post office that yes, in fact, I was back in town (since I was standing in front of them) and that yes, I’d like my mail (that they were supposed to deliver four days ago). Seems there’s a policy that “held until a specific date” actually means “held until we have a slow day and decide to send the new guy back into the dark corners of our fine facility to find stacks of unpaid bills and unclaimed fruitcakes from four Christmas mailings ago.” Well, Henry finally emerged, we dusted off the fruitcake droppings and got to the serious business of cracking him open.

Wanna see?

Henry comes to us from Minneapolis, one of my favorite cities. Seriously, have you been there? It's so clean. It's like all the citizens stay warm by picking up every stray gum wrapper on the sidewalk. Amazingly cool place.

Well, I'll certainly never shoot Henry's travels for National Geographic, that's for sure. So since this photo doesn't let you tell at all what goodies were waiting in the green tissue paper, let me tell you about them...
  • a toe-up pattern which looks detailed enough for even me to follow
  • one of the mini keychain sock blockers (which may be the perfect size project for me to actually finish before Rhinebeck)
  • a blue chibi (which I needed and was on my "to buy" list... good call, Kari!)
  • a cute, snarky notepad which says "she liked imiginary men best of all," (not necessarily, but I do think imaginary ones are the only ones that I can put up with for longer than a month)
  • and of course, chocolate! This may be the first time I've managed to photograph the chocolate before eating it.

Hmmm, but wait, what about the yarn? Yeah, I know you're all just here for the yarn porn. Well, don't worry, I gotcha covered.

Sunshine Yarns Black Olive Stripe... very cool. I did some Google sleuthing and have found a pair of Jaywalkers in progress with this but I may just do something wild and crazy and use the pattern Kari sent me. Toe-up makes me a little nervous, but since it looks like my sock training partner has braved that adventure already, I'll just sit behind her in class and copy her notes.

So, all Yarn Aboarders out there, sorry about my post office kerflunkal. Henry and I are going to explore Buffalo a bit today before he wings his way onto the next locale. Who will be getting sock yarn next? Stay tuned...

26 August 2006

Doctor, Doctor

Some of you may have secret pals which have assisted your knitting stash. Others may have secret pals which have assisted your waist line with all that yummy candy snuck into each package. Well, I’m happy to report that my secret pal seems to have a knack for assisting my health woes, although the case is still out on whether she helps me over illness or makes me sick.
I’m not so good at the whole cause and effect scenario here (logic, timelines, bah, who needs it), but let’s look at this CSI-style. It seems that there is some sort of chaos-complexity-voodoo-big-bang-earth-is-flat-theory relationship between receiving my secret pal packages and coming down with illnesses, common and otherwise.

So, knitters of the jury, let’s decide…Secret Pal Christina, Yarn Doctor or Germ Lady?

The last time I try to go home to visit the fam, I forget how to read, make my reservation for the wrong day, and end up in bed all weekend taking phone calls about how wonderful my birthday party is. But, I get to enjoy nice baths all weekend, with hand-crocheted wash cloths and bath stuffs courtesy of my secret pal. Now don’t trust me on this one, but I’m pretty sure I got the package, then had the airplane debacle. Hmm, sounds suspicious? Maybe, I really didn’t forget how to read and the Germ Lady got into the computer system with her magic ways and got it all kerflunked so I’d have to stay home and take long, luxurious baths and brag about her wonderful secret pal ways? Awful suspicious…

And that first package, all innocent with the Trekking yarn? Let’s see, since I received that yarn, I’ve had the strangest disease in my fingers… mustknitsockitis. Y’all know it’s fatal. Once contracted, mustknitsockitis causes sufferers to abandon any other activity using their fingers… no more calling grandma, dusting, writing dissertations, or dialing up the pizza delivery boy. Just hours and hours lounging on the couch with fingers unable to be pried off the sock needles. Dreadful, just dreadful… Yep, she gave me that one!

However, it must be said that she did provide the only known cure. Those afflicted with mustknitsockitis have been witnessed to actually put down the socks in order to unwrap a piece of chocolate. Hmm, the plot thickens…

Well, I suppose I should just get down to business here and give you the facts on the latest round of pressies.

Fact #1
Upon returning from a boooooring two-day drive back to my humble abode, I receive an inconspicuous brown envelope full of yarn and sundry goodies.

Lots o' goodies: farm magnets and a funny farm calendar (how'd she know what the family homestead was like?); cute little notebook for all my knitting schemes; tape measure; and yarn, glorious yarn... yeah, better pics of that to come

Fact #2
Upon opening (tearing open with wild abandon, actually) said brown envelope and commencing my unpacking from my two-week travels, I am struck with a fever and throat so sore it actually kept me quiet for days.

Fact #3
As I was fresh out of healthy foods such as bean sprouts and broccoli (yeah, right, like I ever keep that healthy stuff around here), I was forced to sustain my fevered self on fine chocolates shipped in from California.

imagine seeing a picture of chocolates here... I snarked them down too fast to take documentary evidence

Fact #4
As I was also bored out of my gourd while alternating between sleeping, freezing, sweating and checking my temperature yet again, I just had to spend time researching the best possible uses of two gorgeous skeins of yarn. (And no, I couldn’t spend the same time researching silly little things like novels because I had a fever. Can’t work with a fever, right?)

Mmm, Yarn Place Graceful laceweight... geeeee-orgeous. The color is, of course, off here, but it's a beautiful dark purple that fades into a pinker, lighter plum color. Methinks I see either Icarus or Peacock Feathers in my future. Excuse the blatent evidence of peeking into the skein here. Felt a bit naughty prying away the top layers to show off the innards here, but wanted to show some of the way the yarn transitions. Here's a better picture on the blog of Christina's friend. Methinks there's a whole slew of naughty, talented knitters/yarn pushers out there on the other side of the country. Ladies, if we meet, let's do coffee... somewhere close to that great yarn shop that it looks like you frequent.

HAND-DYED fingerweight in all my favorite colors... to sock or not to sock, that is the question...

So, jury, what do you think?

Mistress of the Knitting Jury, how do you find Christina?

Well, Your Honor, this was a difficult case for us what with all that cause and effect mumbo jumbo, but it really came down to that last piece of evidence. Hand-dyed yarn. I mean, really, can anyone less than a knitting saint send away gorgeous hand-dyed yarn? I know that I for one would’ve hoarded that baby for my own greedy little fingers. And she nailed her pal’s favorite colors? Saint, I tell ya, saint…

So, that’s the decision. Looks like Christina is officially a Yarn Doctor and a Saint too. I’m not sure if she is a doctor, plays one on TV, or if she just plays doctor at home (you’ll have to ask her hubby about that one *cough, cough*), but she seems to know the best way to treat a fever is to send chocolate and yarn and leave me to be pathetic, while fondling yarn and planning more projects.

So, Dr. Christina, thank you, thank you, thank you for your miracle cures.

23 August 2006

Vacation is Hard Work

Another fast and furious trip to visit the fam has left me completely exhausted. Aren't you supposed to come home from traveling with recharged batteries? My batteries aren't just kaput, they're leaking some nasty battery acid down the back of my throat. I'm not sure which lovely clan member gave me this sore throat/cold bug, but I'll be sure to save some germs for retaliation at Christmas.

In my little blog hiatus there were quilts finished, socks knit and a great secret pal present received. So much to post about, but that (like my laundry, answering phone messages and dumping out the moldy science projects in the fridge) will have to have to wait until I've recovered from vacation.

Christina, if you're reading this, you totally surprised me. I had someone else on the list picked out as my spoiler. I think I've already got plans for the yarn you sent... I've been reading knitting books in bed today since I can't seem to manage much else. A present-worthy post to come tomorrow. Thanks!

08 August 2006

Green Acres Is the Place For Me

After the previous attempt at visiting my family *ahem*, I've checked my reservation multiple (an obscenely obsessive number of) times just to be sure that I have a room in Nowheresville, Indiana tomorrow night. I'm off to quilt camp and some good ol' farm livin' for a week.

I'll try not to gloat about real biscuits and gravy and homemade ice cream too much... or sweet corn fresh from the field... or all the other lovely fried foods that I will be consuming with wild abandon.

Running in Circles

***This is another of my “finding more happiness” posts so no knitting to report. Just wanted to start with my caveat about writing like this. Nothing is wrong. No need to worry, mom. I’m just trying to make a few lifestyle and perspective changes and I’ve written up some of my journals into more presentable blog entries to share with a few friends who are trying to make similar lifestyle/perspective changes. Just a set of thoughts I’m throwing out there…***

Do you ever feel like you’re a little hamster, running away as fast as you can to keep your little circle spinning? Perhaps you’re a juggler, trying to keep all those pesky little balls up in the air, moving in a circle about your head? Or maybe you’re the trickster at the circus, running to and fro to keep all the plates spinning atop skinny, wobbly sticks?

The thing that’s struck me about these metaphors is that things are just spinning, moving in a circle but never going anywhere. The plates sit flat on their skewers if you’re really, really good, but they aren’t actually producing productive movement. But boy are you tired from running around trying to keep it all going.

This feeling of endless sprinting without actual movement has been part of why I wanted to think more about happiness. The “happiness” that I’m trying to encourage in my life is largely made up qualities such as calmness, peacefulness, being in control or at least feeling like I’m in control of my progress toward something, even if that’s just progressing on this path of life that I’ve undertaken. Maybe I’m just holding onto pipedreams, but I have this hunch that fulfillment is intimately connected to finding a state of peace with the demands of life. Lately, though, I just keep trying to keep the plates spinning, trying to keep up.

Isn’t there more to life than keeping up?

What about enjoying a nice, big dinner on those plates… which, of course, are Homer Laughlin china from one of our antique hunts of yore. And hey, I like my dishes… all 30 sets of them. It was actually a set of china that got me to start the blog. I found a great deal at Goodwill and wanted to share pictures of the spoils with the fam.

Anyway, those dishes… that I bought last summer… where are they? Currently busy getting dusty in the cabinet. I’ve yet to have time to wash them, put them on the table and serve a summer-y meal with cutesy little flowers and petit fours as I’d dreamt when I brought them home. I have a lot of those dreams, plans and schemes. Yet it seems it’s always plans that get started and don’t get off the ground around here. How often do I say, “I’m gonna…?” How often do I say, “I did…?” Not hard to do the math on that one. The “gonna’s” win hands down. Yet, it’s not for lack of effort. I really try to make the “gonna’s” reality, but somehow, I never pull it off.

That’s the thing with running in circles…it’s not productive and it’s repetitive. I can run and run, but I’m just back to where I started. And each time around, I’m a little slower, a little winded, and very frustrated. So the more I run, the worse it gets. The worse it gets, the more I try to make up for it, get things together, try to make a fresh start.

But so far my “fresh start” is simply to change the pattern of china that’s spinning atop the sticks.

I undertake some new motivational scheme. Maybe I switch my job as an adjunct teacher or a secretary or an office person, shuffling between G.A. and T.A. and M.I.A., hoping that this semester, this year, this is going to be the time that I get it all together. Or maybe it’s a new goal at the gym. This workout plan will be the one that transforms my body into the lean, mean hottie machine that makes all my worries about dates and clothes go away. Or maybe the ticket is the relationship. This will be my knight in shining armor with a trust fund and a penchant for adventure. Even when I’m trying to be realistic about my plans, it’s more of the same. I caffeinate, suit up, and just know that this weekend I’m going to get the apartment clean, finish a draft of this chapter, polish off a knitting or quilting project and set about my perfect life. But really, it’s just changing my china pattern. The plates are still up there spinning.

I’ve known for a long time that I worry too much, try to run around and please others too much, always feel behind, and so on and so forth. I just can’t figure out how to get the plates from atop those spindly little sticks to the table. And putting a meal on them… hey, at this point I’d settle for take-out leftovers with a plastic spoon.

So, I need a new metaphor. I want to sit down and enjoy my plates… and the meal on them. I love reading the posts over at
Posie Gets Cozy. I love seeing the pictures of her dinner parties and her recent post about preparing those meals really captured the dream that I want to pursue. But how to make this dream a reality rather than just another place setting spinning in the air?

Inevitably, it seems that I’m going to be dealing with some broken china.

How do you institute change, especially one that’s got more to do with giving up than adding to the demands of life? I can tell myself over and over that my priorities are simple right now. (1) Finish diss. (2) Be healthier. (3) Have a cleaner, neater, more organized home. Seems like there are three plates. Let the quilting one fall to the ground for now. Maybe I can drop the dating plate for awhile and use Saturday nights for writing. Or maybe if I switch out the “run a marathon” exercise plate, which is really more of a platter, with a tiny little “take a walk every day” saucer…

Or maybe I just let everything crash to the ground and start over with a mosaic of broken pieces… Yeah, a crafty project… because I need another one of those…

Logically, I know the answer is to work daily on a little bit on each of my three areas of greatest concern. Simplification is a matter of making choices and then living by those choices. It promises ease of mind, professional and personal rewards, and potentially even time and energy for other, more enjoyable activities. So why is it so hard to save these plates and let the rest fall?

The difficulty especially makes no sense since I know that ultimately, those dropped plates won’t shatter into a million pieces. I can always start quilting more after the diss is finished. I’m certainly not planning to enter a convent so dating will always be an option, and likely a more enjoyable one when I feel like I can enter into a relationship without the strain of an uncertain professional life and a negative body image. And that marathon… people run their first marathon at all ages.

The only answer that I seem to come to is that those “other plates,” the ones that aren’t so important, are actually preferable in a non-logical way. They promise immediate distraction and potentially, immediate reward. Maybe they’re not really plates but teapots, gravy boats and berry bowls. Really, we need standard dinner plates. But in antique collecting, aren’t the side pieces much more appealing? Who wants to pursue a standard dinner plate when some frilly little piece with lots of curves and frou frou can be had? Who wants to work on a dissertation, which will need much more than a day’s or weekend’s or year’s worth of work, when a trip to the mall promises a whole new look for fall in only a few hours?

So I run around the table again, spinning all those plates one more time. As summer starts to fade into the frenetic pace of the academic year, I can feel the tension levels rising on campus as people make copies of their syllabi and new students try to figure out where their classes are, the school supplies are stocked in all the stores and I’m trying to finish my tasks before I go home for the summertime visit. I’m reviewing my list of summer goals and realizing just how few have been checked off and if that’s a problem of my list making or my working tactics. Likely, it’s a bit of both.

I suppose this means I’m ready for the plates to break. Better go find a broom in case this gets messy.

05 August 2006


Come back soon, Hilda and Maya.

Buffalo misses you already.

04 August 2006

What a Wonderful Feeling

Dropping off a huge months-long project in the UPS delivery box fifteen minutes before their last pick-up on Friday evening at 6.30...

It just doesn't get any better than that.

Now to return to a normal human... well, for tonight at least.

Tomorrow starts the countdown to a deadline for my next chapter. 75 pages by Wednesday... no problem...

Well, that's what I'm telling myself now. I'll let you know how that one feels if I make it.

I'm really glad my knitting doesn't come with deadlines. Well, besides those holidays and birthdays but those dates are flexible, right?

01 August 2006

Bad Signs

Today, on the hottest day ever, they shut off the air conditioners on campus and told us to save on electricity by shutting down computers, copiers, and so on, including overhead lights. Yeah, because a lot of work gets done at a university without computers.

When I came home after that sweat-fest, one of my framed diplomas had mysteriously fallen to the floor.

It's too hot for school.

So why in the hell do I have to go back there tomorrow?