Saturday, March 31, 2007

Light at the end of the tunnel

Shockingly enough, I'm not finished with my March sweater. Between stressing and trying to manage, I just didn't have the time to sit and knit on anything beyond garter stitch (guess who's casting on for a simple triangular garter stitch wrap?). Now that I'm done writing the lectures, though, I'll have night time for knitting on that charted part of the swing jacket. That's right -- I'm done with the lectures. Not a one of them is earthshaking, but they're done. If they're so bad that the college resolves to never hire me to write again, hey, there are worse things I could think of.

I did finish some other things. The older Things took part in our homeschooling group's history fair, and it was a blast! There were exhibits on the history of chocolate, the history of money, the Renaissance, knights, Vikings (three on them -- what do you think that means?), jazz, Washington, D.C., the founding fathers and the three branches of government, the history of games, the history of dogs, the history of sea turtle protection, Egypt, aviation, and many things I don't even remember.

Watching my nephew (the curly top there) talk to people about airplanes was hilarious. He usually won't talk to folks at all, at least not until he knows them very well. But get him going on Charles Lindbergh's flight, and boy howdy. Just fun. Even the baby got in on the action.

There's been other developments, too. Thing 2 lost her first teeth, and appears to be on the road to losing some more. Coincidence that her reading has taken a huge jump forward? I don't know. She's also discovered that she can gather recyclable bottles and cans and get money for them. She and her brother also learned something new and interesting this week. Hold on for it. . .

They learned how to open the main (second) floor bathroom window and slide down the pipe to the ground!

Good for them! A friend asked me what was wrong with the door, and of course there wasn't anything wrong with it. They just wanted to do this. Spare a thought for my rapidly-greying hair.

I missed a couple of calls for bee swarms this week, and was bummed. I really need more bees. So when I got a swarm call late this afternoon while I was getting my hair cut, I was excited. My spouse had spent the afternoon making swarm-catching boxes (pictures later). So I went home, kitted up, and headed out to the house. By the time I got there it was pretty dark.

The swarm was in a low, perfect place, and I guess I should have just cut the branch they were wrapped around. Instead I brushed bees into the box as I held it up. All was going well until a bee got inside my helmet somehow and stung me. As I was getting out of that situation, a number of other bees got me. And the more sting pheromones there are, the more agitated the swarm will become. I got between 5-7 stings all told. Thing 1, Thing 4, and Thing 1's lovely friend helped a lot. Actually, Thing 4 was no help at all, but she was sad because I'd been gone and I brought her thinking she'd fall asleep on the way.

I ended up leaving the box there with the lid on, hoping to entice more bees into it. Maybe this was the wrong thing to do; I don't know. I'm going back tomorrow with a hooded jacket on over my veil collar and the smoker. I sure do want these bees. If they're all back up on the branch, I'm going to cut it. I hope they just like the box and think it's a safe-seeming place to be (bee?).

The stings aren't great, but neither did they hurt as much as I'd feared. Remember, my bees have never stung me. So that is pretty good, I suppose. I had ordered a better bee suit just the other day, but it hasn't gotten here yet. I did take some antihistamine just to counteract any swelling, and now I'm going to take a bath and tumble into bed. And no lecture worryingwriting

Friday, March 23, 2007

Halfway there

Really, I'm halfway done with the Pearl Buck Swing Jacket. See, there are six pieces, and I've knit three of them (two sleeves and a yoke). Therefore, I'm calling myself halfway there. Never mind that the three remaining pieces have some shaping, some patterning, some shaping I'm going to have to fiddle with to add another inch to. . . and they're bigger than the done ones. I'm stubbornly going to stick with my version of reality.

Today? No knitting. But I did finish another lecture, respond to the edits on an early lecture (although I don't feel as though I'm being paid enough to do big rewrites), teach one online class, and did something quite fun.

Spouse and I took Thing 1 out for an educational experience on this:

for a three-hour cruise. Hee. That made me laugh to begin with. It's the Hawaiian Chieftan, and the kids got to raise and lower sails, tie knots, discuss trade routes in the era of tall ships, and do some navigation practice. We got to watch and stay out of the way. Things 2-4 got to go to a lovely friend's house.

These tall ship companies offer all-day cruises for adults and others, with you being more of a crewmember, but this was just a little taste. The other ship, the Lady Washington, was in the movie "The Pirates of the Carribean," as the stolen one.

It was a very pretty day, and the city looked beautiful and far away

But it, of course, was as close as always:

When we got back, it was ice cream all 'round. Don't we look the happy bunch?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Celebration all around

Well, I have an almost-teen in the house now (and an almost-two year old!). Thing 1 celebrated her 12th birthday early this month. March sees half of our family's birthdays, but two of us have almost stopped counting, and are mostly beyond the cake and candles routine for fire safety purposes. We had a family party with grandparents, aunt, and cousins, with take out from her favorite Indian place on the actual birthday day. I had forgotten to bake a cake, but we have a little birthday ring that we've used for a long time. This was the year that she was just a ring of light, so we put that out and sang around the candlelight. Her three year old cousin was incensed at the lack of cake, and the wooden ring was the last straw, as far as he was concerned. He yelled, "That is a fake cake," and dissolved into tears. Whoops.

A week later, she opted for a fairly quiet party with a few good friends (despite the Very Good ones that couldn't come), and it was a treat to see how "playing with the baby" became one of the main party activities. This is such a nice age. I'm delighted at her growing responsibility and accomplishments. I'm also pleased that she doesn't screech at me as frequently as the younger ones do.

Small victories.

Thing 3 and I have been struggling with each other. I don't know all of the causes, but I'm sure it's something that will eventually pass. Sunday was perhaps the lowest point of the week, with many tears by us both. I believe the phrase, "Parenting is way overrated" came out of my mouth at one point. Last night, my lovingly prepared meal was greeted with "I hate it! I won't eat it! You have to make me something else!" This isn't an unusual gambit for the middle ones, although it's usually met, as it was last night, with "I'm so sorry. That's what I made." But last night, with a friend's wise "pick your battles" advice ringing in my ear, I said "I'm sorry. That's what I made," and when he replied, "I'm going to go make my own (get ready for this) granola and yogurt!" I thought, at least it's not popsicles, and didn't say anything.

Later, he was still sitting in front of his bowl of organic yogurt and homemade granola after his father and I had washed everyone else's dishes. I came out to the dining room and asked him to hand me something off of the table. He looked at me and said, "I'm sorry I yelled at you."

I nearly fell over, but instead managed, "It's okay, you were pretty upset," walked into the kitchen and burst into tears. It was just such a gift, and it's been so hard with him lately. I'm holding on hard to that moment so I can face today's challenges with just a tad more grace.

Mothers are clearly easily bought!

But really, how can you stay unhappy with a trio like this:

They put a naked Thing 4 in the bird cage that's waiting for Thing 1 to move it to her room (see: growing responsibility) and fed her tangerines. I insisted that they dress her if they were going to cage her on the front porch, because naked baby or caged baby either were okay alone, but together it was a CPS referral.

My work for the online university is limping along. I finally got the list of books they're proposing for the course, but not the actual books. I had remembered two and therefore wrote the lectures and assignments for them, and they seem happy to get them. The thing that has me a little confused is how loosely they seem to be interpreting deliverable dates. I've gotten some lectures in "on time," some late, and they either ignore it or send me an email saying, "Thanks for your hard work!"

I'm not usually one to let obligations skate, but this isn't very inspiring. On the other hand, their lackadaisical approach to fulfilling their side isn't very inspiring either. They usually pay on time, though!

Within all of the emotional ups and downs, the work and feeling behind, I have something lovely to show, a sleeve and a half for the Pearl Buck Swing Jacket. My plan appears to be working, as I'm feeling just as enthusiastic for sleeve 2 as for sleeve 1. That is a minor miracle in itself.

Some green on green:

And a closeup of the silky shine. I'm a little concerned that the wool's softness and halo (it's a single, with almost no twist) is going to lead to it looking like someone's thrift shop rag in need of a haircut, but it feels very nice.

I'm not going to claim that I'll finish it by the end of March, but maybe. Only a yoke, back, two fronts and maybe bands to finish (I'll have to read that part when I get there). If there's enough yarn, I may try a frog closure for the top, which hasn't any closure now. I think it's going to need something to hold the top closed for me.

Oh, and my garden seedlings are up. Hooray hooray. There's really a lot to celebrate.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Treading Water

I am over my head.
First deliverable on the curriculum in (to a thundering sound of silence from the university -- thanks, guys!).

That was followed by declaring the orange sweater "done," despite the fact that I need to dye the new yarn and lengthen the sweater, plus put some sort of neck treatment on it.

Nevertheless, it's been worn out -- I knew it was too short, no matter what he said -- and I just want to squeeze him in that color. He is, however, in about the least pleasant stage I've experienced for some time and now I'm to the cap shaping of the first sleeve of my March sweater.

And when I find the camera cord to download pictures, I'll show you. The yarn is Artfibers Ming in a green, and I'm making the Pearl Buck Swing Jacket from IK Winter 2005. I'm really enjoying it although I'm a teeny bit concerned that it will end up too drapey. The jacket seems to reward some crispness. Ah, here it is. Flash didn't really do it justice. Oh well.

So now I'm desperately trying to set up two new classes in a new online environment that I'm still learning so I can begin to teach them Monday, as well as write two and a half more lectures plus assignments.

One thing that's proving a bit sticky is that I've erased the email listing the books for the class I'm writing and the university hasn't actually sent them to me yet. They may not get their lectures on time, either.

Can I tell you how much I'm looking forward to May, when my self-imposed "time off" begins? I have some projects set up for the summer for me, but that's it. No teaching, very little homeschooling that looks booky, lots of gardening. . . but there's some road between then and now.

I hope everyone else is doing a bit better.