Part One: Me and the Mockingbird

Recently the American novel To Kill a Mockingbird and its author Harper Lee have received a lot of attention because of the publication of her “sequel,” Go Set a Watchman. This summer I purchased copies of both books with the intent to read them both.

I wasn’t alone; for a while this summer, both novels were Top Ten New York Times bestsellers. But since you know me — either in person or through my writing — you may be interested in knowing my own reasons for doing this. To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel that most American public school students read in the eighth grade. I, however, did not, and thereby hangs a tale.

First, let’s discuss why I did not read this wonderful, amazing, brilliant novel in the eighth grade. There are, basically, two reasons: the first is that I had already read it. The second is that I had the same English teacher for both seventh and eighth grade. And when “Bob” (his real name, but not his full name, as he may still be teaching English somewhere) realized that I had already read the novel, he didn’t think I needed to spend another six weeks (or was it longer?) slowly re-reading it as the rest of the class encountered it for the first time. In retrospect, this may not have been the right decision to make, but his intentions were good.

As I said, “Bob” was my English teacher in seventh grade. He was new to my school district, and — if I remember correctly — this was his first or second teaching assignment. He was 26 years old, and I was 12. I was the daughter of two teachers, a rabid reader, a diligent student, and a budding writer. I got through English classes with one finger serving as the bookmark for the front-of-the-textbook matter that the whole class was reading, and another finger poised to flip the pages to the much more interesting reading at the back of the book, despite the teacher-of-the-year’s exhortations not to read ahead.

“Bob” soon realized that I could read whatever was put in front of me, write papers that were excruciatingly organized, whip almost anyone in Scrabble, and diagram complex sentences until the cows came home. My saved English assignments from seventh and eighth grade are covered with his positive feedback, his encouragement, and his judgment that I could soon be submitting my work for publication somewhere. He gave me extra books to read and extra assignments to do to make sure I kept being challenged. He also gave me what was, apparently, some remnant of his college career — a spring-loaded black vinyl pouch to keep my folders and papers in. I felt honored and special.

Then came eighth grade, and he was my teacher again. This was not supposed to happen, and everyone knew it. To this day, I still don’t know why or how it happened. But everyone knew how the tracking worked. I had had Teacher “A” for seventh grade and was supposed to have Teacher “B” for eighth grade. Most of my friends moved on to Teacher “B.” I still had “Bob.” Everyone noticed, and that’s probably when people started to talk. (This was, incidentally, the year that The Police released the hit single “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” about an English teacher with a crush on a student who was half his age. Thank you very much, Mr. Gordon Sumner. You made eighth grade extra enjoyable.)

kill-mockingbird_classic

Eyebrows were raised, but my schedule didn’t change. We proceeded through the year with the usual assignments until it came time to read To Kill a Mockingbird. I don’t know if “Bob” asked for a show of hands in class or I discreetly let him know after class, but somehow I let him know that I had already read the book. He soon decided that it was better for me to give me new assignments than to make me re-read the book. And off I went on my own course, doing a sort of independent study while the class plodded through Mockingbird with oral readings in class and quizzes and tests a couple of times each week.

Somebody got upset. Somebody thought there was favoritism. Somebody thought I was getting special privileges. And probably somebody (or somebodies) thought there was more going on between the twentysomething new teacher and the teenaged student than met the eye. There wasn’t, but it was enough that someone thought there was. Meetings were held. My mother was called in to talk things over with the principal to help “calm things down.” It was decided that I would join the rest of the class in following the standard curriculum. I traded my independent studies for a paperback copy of Mockingbird, joining everyone else just as Bob Ewell was called to the stand. The quizzes were easy, the plodding was slow, and that was apparently the desired outcome. I managed to finish eighth grade without receiving any further accusations of misconduct, then went on to the high school and never looked back. What became of “Bob”‘s career, and what effect his decisions regarding my assignments had had on him, I never knew. I never saw him again. But at the end of the year I emptied out the vinyl pouch that I had so treasured, and returned it to “Bob”‘s desk when he wasn’t looking.

I eventually went on to Miami University, where I earned a bachelor’s degree, with University Honors, in the dual major of English Literature and Creative Writing.

Next: Re-reading Mockingbird

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Published in: on August 28, 2015 at 10:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Week Sixteen: Decisions and Revisions

The calculus train is barrelling along past Reimann Sum station now, and I’m staying in my seat and taking all the notes I can. I’m keeping up with my homework on antiderivatives, summation notation, indefinite integrals, and definite integrals. There will be an exam in two weeks covering this material, and I’m not scared of it. The biggest problems this week have been (a) slipping on the frosty ramp outside the house and bruising my hip, shoulder, hand, and ego; (b) getting almost to school and realizing I was driving the car that didn’t have the commuter window-sticker; and (c) getting so wrapped up in my homework that I lost track of time and was a minute or two late to class. They didn’t all happen on the same day (but two of them did).

The smaller the interval you measure, the closer you get to an accurate estimate of the area under the curve.

Of course, I know me by now, and when things are going well I tend to extrapolate the success to the nth degree. If I solve one computer hardware issue I think I should work as a Genius at the Apple Store. If I write a haiku I wonder how I’ll ever have time to finish my epic metered saga. One good pot of soup, and I’m thinking up graphic treatments for a cookbook series. If I think of an improved mousetrap design, I fret over my inability to purchase enough warehouse space to store all the inventory. That sort of thing. It’s more amusing now that I can catch myself in the act of making ridiculous or disproportionate future plans, and ground myself gently back in reality.

horsebeforecart1

Thoughts like these have started me wondering about my academic future. Enough people have asked me if I were going back to school this fall that I started wondering, too. I went from “no” to “probably not” to “maybe” to “I think I’ll change my major to Pure Mathematics and get a full time job too and edit at night and invent cold fusion” in the space of an afternoon. Well, except for the cold fusion. I’m sure someone else has that all worked out by now.

I caught the thought, then I held it and took a more critical look at it. The physics professors seem distressed at the thought of my being a math major. What are you going to do with a math degree? Well, the same thing I was going to do with a physics degree at age forty-coughcoughcough — learn everything I can about what I’m interested in, while I still can. I’m interested in education but not in teaching, but who knows? With four technically oriented kids, being able to teach math might come in extremely handy. I’m interested in the history of math, the history of science, and the history of language. I don’t have five lifetimes in which to read everything, so I need to choose my reading matter carefully. For that, a structured course seems like a good idea. What’s it all good for? Well, it’s going to help me become more like me. That should be the purpose of education — to help you develop your strengths and shore up your weaknesses. It’s your choice as to whether you apply that towards finding a job or not. Personally, I think that this experience and education will eventually land me in a place where I’m making a living, but I just can’t see all the details from here. Not yet.

The math-and-numbers side of me is now being balanced by my words-and-letters side. I’m not just playing Words With Friends and Scramble any more; I’ve gotten a client who would like me to edit his book manuscript and help him get published. While I’m waiting for him to sign and return his contract, I’ll go ahead and hard-copy edit his first two chapters and keep track of my time so I can figure out my rates for future jobs. I’m also editing a friend’s dissertation for chapter-by-chapter publication in an academic journal. I’m reading fiction and nonfiction. I’m writing every day and blogging every week. And I’m still playing Words With Friends and Scramble. Finding point-scoring combinations among the letter tiles isn’t interfering with my “mathing” any more, so I’m just trying to stay balanced.

Then there’s knitting, that combination of wool, coding, artistic expression, and applied topology. I’m doing finishing (weaving in loose ends) on a huge project, turning a heel on a sock, designing a mathematically and artistically geeky scarf, and knitting a lace-edged narrow shawl that’s a therapeutic exercise.  My friend Bonnie has taught me how to do a Long-Tail cast-on — in fact, this patient woman has taught it to me twice so far — so I have a new tool in that particular toolbox.

As usual, all I need is time. T.S. Eliot assures me that won’t be an issue:

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
— “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

Week Fourteen: Art Imitates Art

I am turning to writing more and more often in order to express myself. Given that I have a degree in writing, this should come as no surprise to anyone, especially myself.

However.

I am now journaling every day when I wake up, and just before I fall asleep.

I am now composing my blog posts over the course of several days, and editing them.

I have recently written A Poem. (Be afraid. Be very afraid.)

These are things I have not done for some time. For over a decade I have been occupying my time with (and defining myself by) my children. As important as child-raising and human-socializing and person-educating can be, it doesn’t take away from the importance of my Prime Directive, which is to treat yourself kindly and use the resulting energy to treat others kindly. This life is a bumpy ride, for which I believe we are each issued only one ticket, and we need to be each other’s shock absorbers. (And I’m finding out as I proceed through life that there is a lot of shock to absorb. There is a lot of pain out there, both having been suffered and awaiting the suffering of.)

I have found it interesting over the last few years that when I meet virtually with old friends, they don’t ask if I’m married. They don’t ask if I have kids. They don’t ask if I’m working or studying. Without memorable exception, they have all asked the same question of me: “Are you still writing?”

It gave me pause.

Was I?

Did journaling count? I have kept journals off and on over the years — but mostly off in recent years. (So I was kind of hoping that journaling didn’t count.)

Did scrapbooking count? For a while there I was designing pages and describing events so our memories would be easier to summon in the future.

Did blogging count? I started Chocolate Sheep in 2006? 2007? after writing a monthly e-mail newsletter called Wisconsin Crafter.

Did social media count? I have posted approximately 12,300 posts on Ravelry since I joined the site on September 27, 2007. On that site, which now has over 3 million members, I have started groups, adminned groups, modded groups, participated in groups, and lurked in groups. I have been on Facebook since (apparently, according to Facebook) sometime in 2009. I can’t even count how many notes, status updates, private messages, and comments I’ve written there.

Did they mean, Had I written a novel? or Had I published my short stories? or Had a written something else, something “official”?

I think what they really meant to ask was whether or not I was still myself — whether I had kept on doing the thing that defined me as “me” to them. They were checking in to find out if I were the same person they had known years ago, and whether or not time had changed me. I’m pretty sure they didn’t want to see my unfinished novel (and I’m certain I didn’t want to show it to them). They didn’t want to read my scrapbooks or see the hand-stamped cards I’d made. They were touching base about one thing they were certain was still true.

I didn’t want to disappoint them, so I said “yes.” It seemed very important that I say “yes.”

Exactly why was it important that I live up to [what I thought were] their expectations?

I wanted to be the same person. I wanted to be someone who hadn’t given up her dreams in the face of life and its challenges. I wanted to be that writer who kept on writing, no matter what life had thrown at her. And since nobody was demanding to see any evidence — such as links to articles I’d written for The New Yorker, perhaps — nobody was the wiser.

But really…. I really wanted to be that person. So over time, I have started writing again. I started different blogs in order to focus on different topics. (And I also discovered that I really enjoy the creative process of setting up a new blog. I have set up ten of them. Really, I can stop anytime I want to. It’s totally under control.)

So here I am, writing about writing. And while you can call yourself anything that you want, I personally find it easier to accept the label “writer” after I’ve clicked on the “publish” button.

Myself, many moons ago (1987), editing my own writing with a red pen.

Myself, many moons ago (1987), editing my own writing with a red pen.

I’ve also started reading again — new books, classic books, fiction, nonfiction, intriguing books on display at the library, my kids’ books. I’m getting new stories, words, and writers into my head. Instead of comforting myself by reading my favorite stories over and over, I’m gently reading my way out of my box. I’m also reading books about new ways to think about life, the universe, and everything — including thinking itself. I have purchased three new bookcases for my personal space alone (and applied Eminent Domain to acquire one from my eldest son’s room), and they are spilling over before I’ve even had the chance to bring up the many boxes of books that have been stored in the basement for the last several years. Probably for several years too long. Anyway, they can’t come up into the light until I have somewhere safe to put them, and we’re still pretty crowded here, topside.

So much to read, so little time.

So much to read, so little time.

And yes, I’m still knitting…. looky here! This week it became increasingly obvious that I wasn’t going to have nearly enough yarn to complete Wingspan with even the two skeins I had, so on Tuesday one of my errands was to find a complementary color in the same weight to do the neckline edging. I didn’t get any college scholarship money on my color-matching talents, so I was a little nervous about the skein I’d picked. I took the project and the extra yarn to knit night to set some groupthink on it, and lo! and behold! they said that it was good! I proceeded to join the new yarn and knit six rows as quickly as I could, but with each row taking about 30 minutes, I knew I wouldn’t have time to cast off right then. I took care of that task on Wednesday afternoon, then ever so promptly wove in all the ends. I threw it around my neck and fell in love with it immediately.

20130404_175004

And ah, there is so much more to knit… and to write. But tomorrow I’m going back to campus to study my calculus before it’s too late.

Published in: on April 4, 2013 at 10:12 pm  Comments (1)  

Week Seven: Renewal

After much agonizing, I have decided to renew a library book which I detest. Two weeks ago, there I was at the library, minding my own business, having dropped by to pick up a series of graphic novel-style mathematics books for my 6-year-old son. On my way to check out the books, I happened to notice a new arrival — a book on Euclid and his amazing book, Elements. I thought it would make a good introduction to book and author before I sat down and tackled Elements for myself.

Wrong, wrong, couldn’t have been more wrong. I started hating this book on Page Three.

Don’t even point.

Wait — now that I look back at it, I realize that I started hating this book waaaaaay before Page Three. Because I hate that the quote from Blaise Pascal that appears before the preface is in untranslated French.

I also hate the preface, which gave me my first sense of the author’s writing style.

It got worse from there.

I soon decided that the only proper course of action for me was to write a scathing review of this book so that I could warn off any of its potential readers. Time is precious these days. If I could establish that this book is a waste of both time and space, we could all move happily on to the next item in the queue. However, I didn’t think it would be fair to be nasty about a freshly published book that I didn’t actually finish reading. (Think back to high school. Can you imagine your Literature teacher’s reaction if you had attempted to turn in a book report on a novel you didn’t finish?) So, I struggled forward, trying to keep my temper. It wasn’t my book, so I couldn’t throw it with great force. I did toss it aside often, though. Then I would think, “It’s not that long. I can really get through this” and pick it up again. Then I would yell “I HATE THIS BOOK!” and put it down again. So my progress in the reading of it was not that swift or consistent over the last two weeks.

Yesterday I got an e-mail from the library… the book is due this Friday. I had 48 hours left to read the book, and 96 hours’ worth of more pleasant and useful things to do within that 48 hours.

So I’m going to try to renew it tomorrow. Between chapters, or segments, or paragraphs perhaps, I shall be sharpening my pen and charging up my electrons. I have two more weeks…. unless someone else, perhaps the author’s mother, is on a waiting list for it.

Slop season. Not spring.

Slop season. Not spring.

One might also look out one’s window here in Wisconsin and imagine that spring is coming and this is a time of renewal. Think again, bucko, it’s only mid-February. Just because you can see patches of grass amongst the snow, slush, and mud doesn’t mean the crocuses are coming any time soon, nor should they dare. And you should probably stay inside yourself if you know what’s good for you. Flu, whooping cough, and black ice are laying for you.

So. Until Spring is really here and there are better things to read that don’t have such a tight deadline and bizarre moral imperative, there is knitting to do. The dropped-stitch lace scarf is complete and has been entered on the Finished Projects page. I have cast on for a Wingspan scarf/shawl and gotten a couple of sections done. It has kind of an unusual construction, but the knitting itself is quite easy. So far, there are three of us in my local knitting group who are making them.

Wingspan in progress

(I don’t know why I can’t get the photo to show up. Sorry, just click the link.)

During the past week I have also gotten my oldest child signed up for his freshman year of high school. He is almost 14. He is almost as tall as I am (he checks this every morning). However, he is nowhere close to understanding just how ambitious his desired schedule actually is: Honors English, Eastern Cultures, Science 9, Geometry, P.E., German 1, and Intro to Engineering. I can’t wait until we get started on this in the fall and pour hormones into the mixture, add heat, and see what happens! He is a bright boy — he will just have to work harder at this than he realizes.

And now, a special announcement:

UNWIND 2013

I’m happy to announce that we are in the planning stages for the 6th “Unwind” social event, to be held Saturday, September 7, in conjunction with the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival in Jefferson, Wisconsin.

This event is NOT an official Sheep & Wool event, nor is it an official Ravelry event. It is a private party that you are invited to! The price of admission (which is cheaper, the earlier you register) covers dinner, a goody bag, a chance at a door prize, and the chance to hang out with some seriously fun knitters, crocheters, spinners, and others! And yes, you can and totally should bring your needles, hooks, wheel, spindle, and what-have-you. All the cool people are doing it.

On your registration form you can also choose to purchase a T-shirt. When you arrive at the Festival on Friday or Saturday and check in at our table in the main building, which should be just in front of the fence around the Silent Auction items, you will pick up your goody bag and T-shirt.

We have a cap of 150 attendees, so if you want to come, please sign up early. We can take walk-ins at check-in time at the Festival grounds, but NOT at the event itself.

Updates, discussions, and Q&A should take place in the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival group on Ravelry.

If you would like to help sponsor the event or donate a door prize, please email me or PM me on Ravelry.

I hope to see you there — I’ll be the one wearing the Doctor Who Scarf!

Published in: on February 14, 2013 at 4:19 pm  Comments (1)  

Week Six: Degrees of separation

I’m enjoying a more contemplative day today as the snow gently falls on the pines and the pastures. Having ignored the urgings of the weather service to heed instructions for French Toast Alert Level Orange, I’ve done my driving for the day without adding to my stores of milk, bread, or eggs. Quiet music plays from the TV’s music channel. Knitting is being accomplished; reading, contemplated.

Not taken from my house, but it might as well be.

As I was driving back from “town” this morning I was thinking about how people keep saying that the internet has allowed people to opt out of personal interactions, that we are not learning how to effectively interact with people face to face. I wonder about that. If you know me, you probably know I spend a lot of time on Facebook. I check in several times a day, sometimes for hours at a time. I post, comment, share, like, friend, and play a popular game using letter tiles.

Through Facebook I have been able to connect with interesting people, stay in touch with relatives, and reconnect with more distant souls. My Facebook friends range from my first friend (born two days before me to the family two houses down the street) to people on the other side of the planet, sometimes cyberfriends of cyberfriends. I can peek over the shoulders of my twin third-cousins as they work their way through medical school. I can look at the first photos of the first grandchild born to someone in my high school graduating class. I can witness the silly exchanges between two best friends, or between partners. I can see a list of the songs my sister-in-law is listening to on Internet radio, and with a click of the mouse I can hear them, too. These are the kinds of events I wouldn’t ordinarily witness. They are a view into ordinary life that a class reunion, a family reunion, or even a phone call or a letter doesn’t have a way to truly include.

Through Facebook I’ve been allowed to participate in more joy, anxiety, humor, pain, happiness, and sorrow than I thought my heart would have room for. Babies are born and celebrated, and babies die and are grieved. Kids say the darnedest things. Students study, party, win, lose, and goof around. Pets get sick. Friends make plans, issue invitations, meet up, and share the photos afterwards. Grandparents fall down. People have surgery. Prayers, positive thoughts, and (((hugs))) fly back and forth like electromagnetic waves. Funny jokes and silly pictures are circulated. People are poked. A classmate waits in vigil for her comatose sister to open her eyes and rejoin the world, and her classmates wait invisibly with her.

This is more connection, not less. These are the kinds of shared events that used to only happen within a family. Because of Facebook, our families have grown if we have allowed them to. And not only have I discovered things about my friends and my family — I’ve discovered more about myself. I could compare my accomplishments with those of others and be depressed, yes; I can also encounter unsolicited viewpoints that make me stop, think, reconsider, reaffirm, adapt, change, and grow.

I’m not indulging in these musings just to distract you from the paucity of my knitterly and academic accomplishments in the last week. While the variable weather and the resultant slick (and sometimes invisible) roadways have kept me from getting to campus to work on my math, I am 29 rows (1,218 stitches) away from finishing the dropped-stitch scarf. I have a shawl project all set to go that a real-life, in-person kind of friend is making at the same time. I’ve also initiated a Valentine’s Day cyberspace knit-along event involving a whole batch of friends I’ve never met in person. And I’m making bits of progress on my longer-term knitting projects as well.

This was not a stated goal, but I’ve gotten all caught up with both “Downton Abbey” and “Castle,” and I’m starting on “Top Chef.” Ten more episodes to go on that one. If I have a marathon I might be able to finish in time for the live finale, but I’m not sure. I also have a stack of interesting books I’m trying to make time for. I miss reading.

Week Five: Quantum of Progress

This week I’ve stayed busy, but until a few minutes ago I didn’t think I was getting anything done. Then I looked at what I did today:

  • Went to knitting and drank one chai latte. (This list gets more impressive, I swear.)
  • Turned the heel on one sock.
  • Finished one blanket square.
  • Knitted one repeat on a scarf.
  • Gave away one of my typewriters.
  • Worked on calculus homework for about an hour.
  • Read one more chapter of Plato’s Republic.
  • Left some cookies on campus for friends.
  • Filled up the gas tank.
  • Thrift-bought the shirts for tomorrow’s Spirit Day.
  • Went to the bus service to look for our lost mittens.

The list really does go on and on. And if you look at the whole week, you’ll see more of the same. Had a new washing machine installed. Had the old washing machine hauled away. Baked a batch of cupcakes. Mixed a batch of frosting. Caught up on “Castle.” Applied for one job. Made a pot of chicken soup. Swapped out the rear axle on my bike. Little things that didn’t take much time to do, when considered in isolation.

In my fantasies, it would be really nice to spend the day doing one thing all day long. Like, read a whole book, reorganize the whole upstairs, give away all the clothes that need to be donated, sew up a complete quilt, write a whole short story, watch a complete trilogy. But I don’t get that kind of time, and I suspect my brain doesn’t work that way. Besides, when I do try to spend a day that way — if I don’t almost immediately get a call from somewhere, saying someone has been hurt, and I must come and get them Right Away — I can no longer see the tree I’ve gotten done through the forest of neglected tasks.

My task is to keep spinning the plates. Not even all of the plates — spinning most of them is fine as long as they are the right plates. Some of the plates deserve to crash or be replaced with new ones. And I need to forgive myself and move on when I think I’ve broken the wrong plate, or am not spinning enough of them.

  • Wrote one blog post.

Panicking, I mean packing

Doctor’s appointment? Check. Tommy’s OK and gaining weight again.

Kennel? Check.

Last-minute grocery shopping? Check, plus the fall issue of Interweave Knits. Though, the 8 year old called me on it — “What knitting project did you finish?” I told him I didn’t have time to look at it today anyway.

Now: pack the bags, wash the dishes, bake the cookies, put away the extra clothes, clean the house for the showing, and I think that’s it. Oh yeah, put the kids in the van.

Last night: rewound a skein of BSJ wool, but didn’t cast on. Realized this morning I should have cast on. Worked on a wee tiny giftknit. Knitted on Tyrone. Watched the last Doctor Who with Christopher Eccleston. Maybe it was because Tom was awake and crying then and I couldn’t hear every word, but I was left disappointed and sort of forlorn. So I popped in the next Remington Steele episode, which turned out to have curious and strong parallels to a time in my life I don’t really want to rehash. (Lots of good eye candy, though. I even rewatched a scene. Whew!)

I had to sit quietly and finish the wee giftknit to get myself to where I could sleep. Life is curious.

Back to our regularly scheduled panic. Where is a HHGTTG when you need one? 🙂

Irish Fest free promo: Get in free on Sunday by going to the Mass and bringing a canned good donation. After Mass (including singing by the Irish Fest Mass Choir [name may be mangled, sorry], of which my MIL is a member) you are free to go to the rest of Irish Fest. Have a Harp. Buy a harp. Dance to harp music.

Have a good ol’ Irish time and I’ll see you by the curraghs. Bring your knitting. (I was going to write “represent!” in Irish Gaelic but upon a cursory inspection of the Gaelic tongue, I will leave that to the scholars.)

How to write the sorry letter for not paying

Yes, we have spam. And until I ran across the link I copied for my title (thanks, Mister  Shakespeare!), this was going to be my best-of (links removed):

Hello
I wish to suggest to visit to you [link]. Subjects of the given [link] search of a casino. Here you can find for yourselves the best and fair casinos. Free-of-charge bonuses and many other things. And simply to look that to a soul it is necessary. Very much I recommend search on pharmaceutics. Solid firms, quality of production.

Okay. Now that we have that out of the way…. there is knitting to discuss. Not a lot, but you know.

I started on the BSJ, I really did. The first thing I discovered was that I didn’t like the yarn I bought. It is fine New Zealand/Aussie yarn imported through a place in New Hampshire I’ve never heard of, but nevertheless, I don’t enjoy knitting with it. It’s stiff and almost crusty, like it’s been on the shelf for ten years waiting for a home. I can’t get gauge with it either. I knitted a swatch on size US 4 needles and only managed 5.5 st/in, shooting for six, but knitted myself some chain mail in the process. No way am I knitting this on 3’s. But I think it will soften up in the wool wash, and it’s a lovely variegated magenta, so I decided to press on.

Then I started knitting, and I know EZ said it would be strange, but it’s already so odd I might rip back and try again. I didn’t mark the stitches she said to mark because I didn’t know if I should mark The Stitch or The Space Before The Stitch, and now I have no idea where those markers would be. I’m not completely sure which row I’m on, either. That’s not a good sign.

To add to that, it was my first time doing a PSSO, and I didn’t know if I was doing that part right, either. Finally I searched YouTube for “knit PSSO” and found a demo that confirmed I was doing it just fine, but still. It looked like I was making bobbles on one end of the thing, and I know that ain’t right.

So there it sits until my head is clear. There my self-designed Dianne hat sits until I can figure out more crown decreases. There my socks sit until the kids are asleep and not distracting me. There sits a lot of yarn.

Today I hauled out my gauge swatch for Tyrone and got about three rows done (two knit, one purl) before I had to put it away again and Watch The Children.

Now, Mr. Beth and his buddies are off to the pub. 75 percent of the kids are asleep. And what am I going to pull out and work on again?

The Irish Hiking Scarf, what else???

Tonight’s shameless plug for the Milwaukee Irish Fest features the Canine exhibit. Within barking distance from the Cultural Village is an exhibit of Irish dog breeds: you know, Irish Wolfhounds, Kerry Blue Terriers,  Irish Terriers, Irish Setters, that sort of thing. They have demos and shows and the dogs are there all weekend, on display, with the owners answering questions. Check the link again later this week: looks like the full schedule isn’t posted yet.

And… what the heck are you people searching for? And how on God’s green earth are you finding this blog when you type in these things?

Search Terms Used To Find This Blog, Part II 

chocolate sheep poo
Oh please. This is not Dirty Jobs, where every other adventure is about poo. Yes, I have mentioned chocolate. I sometimes mention sheep. And yes, I have mentioned poo. But not in a row, people.

Tom Baker
I’m not worthy.

pictures of fly bites on sheep
??? Eww!

deathly things to do
At least I knew there this one came from. But as I haven’t done anything “deathly” in a while, I can’t help you there. [Reminds me of an operating system, lo these many moons ago, in which I was within a help module and typed “help.” The system responded, “Can’t help with that.”] [I may have told this story before. Sorry. I am a geek and I used to be a bigger one.]

things not to do at Hogwarts
Let’s see…. irk Professor Snape? How about asking Hermione, she seems to know all then rules you’re not supposed to break. And when and how you actually should break them.

I hope you both get flies
Again, eww!

sully cake
Okay, two people used this search on the same day. What’s up with that? I actually had to look up Sully because I was thinking it was an X Files reference and I know I’ve never written about that. Then I saw a picture of a grown man in a Sully costume from Monsters, Inc. and thought, oh, right, the fun fur hat. What are the odds of two people having read this blog months ago, and all they remember is a fun fur hat and my son’s birthday cake from March?

Oh, for goodness’ sake.

P.S. to Mr. Beth: I’m very sorry I didn’t tell you I was buying a spinning wheel. I couldn’t remember if I had told you or not, and I thank you for your patience, love, and understanding when you found out about it by reading my blog.

Published in: on August 12, 2007 at 8:44 pm  Comments (3)  

Top Ten Things to do after Deathly Hallows

WARNING: slight spoilers inside. But they are very slight. And if you haven’t finished the book yet, what are you doing on the Internet? Log off and finish!

1. Cry enough to buy another box of tissues.

2. Marvel at how small details in each book remained important in the final volume, years later.

3. Go see Order of the Phoenix.

4. Knit something for the Charmed Knits KAL charity.

5. Anticipate that Minerva McGonigal’s participation in the Battle of Hogwarts will rival Yoda’s first fight scene in the Star Wars prequels (once it hits the screen).

6. Go to YouTube and plug in character-name combinations and watch mash-up music videos for an hour.

7. Give up writing fiction entirely, or hopes of it.

8. Send J. K. Rowling a thank-you note for all her excellent work.

9. Re-read The Half-Blood Prince to figure out that Horcrux thing again.

10. Steal it from your teenager and read it again!

Published in: on July 24, 2007 at 11:12 am  Comments (3)  

She’s not doing it.

After lots of thought I have decided not to progress to Second Year in the Hogwarts Sock Swap. Not the least of the things on my mind was the combination of slow-knitterness and other events that led to someone else finishing my socks for me. But the new year of swap, with its full-on Harry Potter identity to maintain, coinciding with a vacation, a move, and goodness knows what else…. I didn’t think I could keep up, and what an odd thing to be doing to finally be the thing that took me down. So yes, I did delete the last post that gave my answers to the questionnaire…. no need for that information to be out there, under the circumstances.

So.

  • I will try to finish what I’m working on,
  • Start Tyrone so I can be doing something in my own knitalong,
  • And start working on new things for family and friends.

Oh yeah — and pack and move and make new friends and all that crap.

AND finish Deathly Hallows, I’m on Chapter Eleven. Sssshhhhhhh!!! I am trying to finish before I meetup with Jules.

UPDATE: I finished the book and can discuss by e-mail. If you leave a comment here, take care not to be a Spoiler!!

Published in: on July 23, 2007 at 9:58 am  Comments (4)