Thursday, May 29, 2008

Give me strentgh

I love toddlers.

Really, I love their big heads, I love the way they move, I love their delight in the world. People talk about the "terrible twos" and I just shake my head. The way they go from sunny to distraught quickly is probably why I also (so far) like teenagers.

Three year olds? Not my favorite people.

Lat night, in a hurry to get big sister from gymnastics, Miss I'm Almost Three got in the car and said, "How about you ride in my seat and I try driving to get her?"

That one took quite a few precious minutes to resolve. Then she yelled from her seat All. The. Way. There.

I'm not sure I'm going to make it through an entire camping weekend. I'm getting to practice lots of good self-talk and "this too, shall pass" reminders.

Time to get back into yoga.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One more blessing

As I'm wading my way through grading for the week, trying to get ahead at work so I can take a long camping weekend without feeling that stress, I realize that one of the reasons I love teaching online (versus face-to-face in a classroom setting) is that I can't see my students.

It's not just being able to make faces at terrible papers and then modify my comments; it's not just that I can grade while wrapped in a fleece blanket and fuzzy slippers. Or in sweaty running clothes.

It's that by not being able to see my students' corporeal selves, I only see their writing. Realizing that their looks, their clothes, their accents, their ages might influence how I read their papers on Oedipus Rex or More's Utopia is quite unflattering to my view of myself as a human being.

I fear, however, that it's true. Or at least true enough that I give thanks for its absence.

Now, online, I can't keep them straight -- one benefit of having about 60 assignments to grade every week, plus 60 participation grades, umpteen "help!" emails, etc. -- so I really do just grade what's in front of me. Can you write in complete sentences? Have you struggled with the literature? Have you (oh, please please) avoided the temptation to cite Wikipedia as a source? If so, great! I love trying to help improve students' work when the students themselves are so clearly working hard.

And it's easy to be positive and supportive when I don't have to think, "Ack! another pair of striped leggings today!" Shallow, shallow, shallow me.

Not having to drive or bike to get to my office is just icing on the cake.

Now, back to finishing that grading rather than patting myself on the back for doing it!

What I can change

So it's taken me some time to realize that I can do lots and lots of things -- things I would never have imagined years ago. I'm tougher in so many ways because of things I've taken on -- and things that have taken me on.

It's taken a lot longer for me to realize that there are plenty of things I can't do anything about, but not to feel paralyzed by fear and regret in the face of that. At the same time, I can always monitor my attitudes and manage them, to the best of my ability.

Which is a long and philosophical way of saying that the camera really is broken. Whatever piece is loose in there sometimes falls into place and sometimes not, but it's out again.

The attitude change part? When I realized that, 20 rows back in on the sock I'd made an extra half-leaf, and would have to rip it back, I found myself saying, "Oh, well, then I'll have all the fun of knitting it again!"

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Better now

Whatever blackness woke me up yesterday has receded. Thank you to everyone who asked and offered help and good thoughts about it. I don't believe for a minute that whatever prompted it will never come again, but I'm trying to stay well within the moment and not worry about it. I slept some in the early afternoon -- well, I rested while an almost-3 year old climbed all over me and said, "I'm not making noise. I'm not moving around." She's in the "say it and it is true" age.

Maybe I'll try that!

Today she woke me early and I've gotten an awful lot accomplished as a result.

And . . . the camera has decided to spontaneously fix itself (who knows how long it will last) so I can show you some of the delightful things going on here. Whoopie!

I assure you that this isn't a totally representative picture of either the lovely yarn and sock or of my leg. Do you think the phrase "well-turned ankle" comes from wood turning? It's been bothering me lately, not knowing the origin, that is.

I hope to have the first one completed today.

New home for the bees

and another helper for next time:

There is much to rejoice in, even when things feel bleak inside.

Monday, May 26, 2008


I woke repeatedly this morning feeling as though somehow a vial of pure fear had been poured into my solar plexus -- spreading to my hands and feet.

I don't know what an anxiety attack feels like, but when I'm afraid, really afraid, my hands feel funny. If it's adrenaline, the symptoms are different -- such as after a near-miss car thing.

So I'd be dreaming along, and bam! Don't know if it was choking because my mouth was dry or what. Happened about 4-5 times. I'd squeeze one of the two kids who'd crept into bed and go back to sleep.

Unfortunately, it hasn't gone away. It's not anxiety, exactly, more like a horror attack. Weepy, tingly hands. I'm drinking water in case it's something like dehydration.

I don't know how I'm going to function today.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Not quite a thousand words

But no pictures available. Camera has started making the "chunk chunk" noise which means the driver for the lens is malfunctioning. I'm not sure if it's worth getting a repair quote or not.

So, no pictures, but I'm doing the heel on my first embossed leaves sock.

Thank you everyone for the kind words about our CD thief. I'm sorry about it, wish I'd been more vigilant, but my life is so blessed that it's just a glitch.

I was thinking about things as I ran this morning -- actually I was trying not to think, if by "think" I mean, "pay attention to the screeching monkeys living in my head." But I was musing. The messages coming to me from all over seem the same one, when distilled. Be in the moment. Take your time. Breathe. Be gratitude. You are enough, life is full.

So I ran on, one foot after another, and realized that life is just like that. One foot after another.

Then I heard a seagull kind of ran across a puddle. Did you know it makes splashing noises just like a little kid? Made me smile very big as I went along.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thanks a lot

To the guy who I saw running away from my car yesterday, after Thing 4 said, "There's a scary man out there!" thank you.

Thank you so much for double parking on a busy city street, getting out of your car, coming around mine, reaching into my half open passenger door window and taking my $9 CD player and complete CD version of A Hat Full of Sky.

My children and I were clearly too complacent in terms of personal security, and now we aren't. Also, we were possibly enjoying the book too much, and who knows how we might have been harmed by the adventures of one of the smartest and most interesting witches ever written.

So I hope you enjoy fencing it and buying whatever harmful stuff you plan to buy.

Thanks. A lot.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Feels like Summer

Although our recent heat wave is over and we're back to the Weather Worth Paying For here in Houses Are Insanely Priced (Still), CA, I'm feeling summer nibbling around our household's edges. Barbecues sound good. Felafel is making a return to the menu. The kids are starting to ask if local watermelons are in yet. At night, enough sunlight comes in around the edges of the little ones' blinds that bedtime is starting to seem arbitrary and for the convenience of the grownups. Of course, that's utterly true. . .

At any rate, we're also fortunate to have as friends a family who love to take their friends kayaking. So last weekend, the younger three Things and I met them at the American River. Good times were had by all, and Thing 3 asked, "Can we get one of those boats?" I think more experience is a good idea first.

Here's my son being ferried across some rapids by friend Mike:

And now his big sister:

The baby offered to paddle me around a stream for a while, so I let her:

It's been a long time since I've had that much fun. Also, these friends are pretty much the parents I want to be, so being around them is a combination of fun, relaxing like a spa, and inspiring. Good day.

I may have announced before that I'm changing beehive types again. The top-bars are interesting, and I am delighted with their cost basis, but managing bees in them is a higher-input job than I'm willing to do. So I drove out to a beekeeping factory and got a whole whack of woodenware. My nephews and my kids nailed most of them together yesterday. Hopefully all of the boxes (called "deeps" and "mediums") will get painted today, and we'll move the bees Friday. By "we," I mean me, Thing 2, now the proud owner of a child-sized suite, and whoever else I can rope into helping. It's going to be a tough day, I think.

Work has me over a barrel, but slacking on schoolwork is helping a little bit. Yesterday, with the company of my sister, her children, and some of mine, I ran for 45 minutes. Who would have thunk it? Apparently I run well in company. And I got past one repeat on the sock!

So now there's just those pesky sleeves, more grading of many papers, some housework, and 1 7/8th socks between me and the Kauni cardigan. Seems totally doable.

Some day.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


That was this morning's run. 35 minutes and 3.3 miles.

I don't do distance checks, I just run out halfway to my time goal, then turn around and come home (or this morning, to the coffee shop to bring some home).

But using Google maps, I plotted out my boring street course today, and that's what it was.

My neighbor down the street wants me to run a 5k in July. Ha! She promises that bringing our sons will virtually guarantee that we won't have to finish, but I was wondering if I had it in me. Apparently I do, but not fast. Maybe it will work. Who knows?

I broke down today and bought another skein of the missing purple yarn to restart the still-missing mitten. In the mean time, did I knit sleeves for Cobblestone, either together or separately?

I did not.

Right now I'm blaming the heat, but that wasn't it. It was these.

From the same Interweave Knits with the Pearl Buck Swing jacket pattern. I just kept seeing them. Granted, I've started them in Knit Pick's Gloss (Pumpkin) and ripped them three times, but I think now I can do it.

I may even bring them kayaking tomorrow.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Seduced and Lost

I was planning to have Cobblestone finished by today, but got seduced by the idea of doing two sleeves at one time, like socks in the round? Well, as with many of the things I try, there's a fairly steep learning curve, and I keep trying to start and restart. At any rate, no sleeves yet.

Then, I got utterly seduced away from sleeves by these, from Clara Parkes' The Knitter's Book of Yarn.

I bought the yarn in two different colorways to make them and actually cast on and made the first little welt out of the magenta/orange/red pair. Doing that kind of fiddly knitting (make 8 rows, pick up the purl bumps from the fist one, knit two together, top and bottom, all the way around) on size 0 needles made me happy in some "brain scratch" way I can't exactly explain.

The third color in that pair doesn't work, though, so we packed everyone up to return the red to my friend's yarn store.

Except we forgot the red yarn. Whoops!

Nice trip, no help. In the mean time, I've decided to rework the colorway, to magenta/orange/yellow, with the yellow as the accent color -- and I have the yarn in my stash to do it with.

And the mitten bag, with the dpns and the welts and the yarn I bought, is. . . lost.

I'm sure it's here somewhere. But a thorough clean of the yarn room yielded nothing, and I don't think it's in the car. It will turn up sometime, I'm sure, and while I'd rather be doing it than knitting sleeves, that's what I'll be working at soon.

Happy Mother's Day to all who celebrate. I already got beautiful presents and kisses and it's also my wedding anniversary -- a double day of good things for us.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Lookie who's done!

A bit on the croppy side. Why do I think that I might have spent some profitable time with a tape measure before I started? I even lengthened this baby all over. It's going to end up being worn over a black dress, I think. The obligatory "I look really tired (because the bees are cranky and I'm having trouble knowing what to do, oh, and yes, thanks for asking, I did breathe smoke from the smoker for the last 20 minutes) and here's my tummy!" look:

But I'm at least very happy to be done:

And the back pleat turned out nicely -- still, another quick steam block might not go amiss:

But someone thinks it's going to be her sweater soon:

And she may be right.

So even though I have the sleeves and yoke for Cobblestone to go, can I cast on for my Kauni cardigan now?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Personal Triumph

So, today, I neither finished either sweater nor have I yet finished cleaning the house.

But I did run for thirty minutes. Straight.

Not fast, not overly far, but without stopping. I have never, to my memory, done this before. If I keep doing this (and things like it) my goal of being much more in shape becomes a possibility, unlinke me knitting lace any time soon. And no, I'm not going to start racing, Suzee. (No one is allowed to point out that I also said that spinning held no interest for me, either.)

Cobblestone makes a nice post-run capelet-in-the-basement, though, don't you think?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Why I need to pay attention

In general, sustained attention is difficult for me. I excel in multitasking, dealing with constant interruptions, moving with the flow, etc. But I realize that there are areas in my life (hello, knitting?) where managing to stay on task for more than 10 minutes might be an asset.

My garden, for instance, has been reduced to the free-seeding annuals and hardy perennials that take care of themselves. And I don't mean my flowery hedge -- I mean my vegetable garden, the one that's supposed to save me lots of money in groceries. More attention there might be beneficial.

And I haven't finished Pearl Buck because I can't muster the focus to count rows on the collar. Really. That's all that remains. Cobblestone toddles along because I don't have to think -- it's the perfect "in between" kind of project. Five minutes? No problem, no counting, just knit and do the garter bands.

Paying more attention to the bees as spring build-up happens would also be a good idea. The queen sort of "wakes up" in January/February around here and starts building up a large number of daughter workers and drone sons so that there are boys to mate with any virgin queens that might be flying around and the workers can bring in the spring nectar flow. Jut occurred to me that I would have made a terrible bee. They're the essence of focus, and honey the essence of their focus.

But when the beekeeper is too busy mopping the floor and talking about the causes of the 20th century Russian Revolutions doing other things in a flitting-around way, then the hive gets crowded with all those daughters. Something has to give. If you consider that the hive is really the organism, and the individual bees the cells, it's like an amoeba splitting. Babies happen:

That's the swarm that pupped off of my bigger hive. So in the middle of a packed, detail-filled, interruptive kind of day, I had to drag out an old hive and hive this swarm. I did, then realized it wasn't the hive I wanted to use and now I need to move them again (sorry, bees). But all's well that ends well, as someone very smart once noted, and in my efforts to make up for my neglect, I also harvested about a gallon of honey from the hive and culled a bunch of drones (sorry, boy bees).

Once I re-hive the swarm and harvest from the smaller hive, in an attempt to stave off yet another crowding-related swarm, I'll be able to let them be for another month or two. And that fits best with my M.O. Maybe I'll even finish a sweater before I have to harvest again? That would be sweet, indeed.