Baby, It’s Cold Outside

In case you haven’t heard (or in case you live on the other side of the world from me; some people do, not that there’s anything wrong with that), it’s been pretty cold here in Wisconsin lately. When you don’t remember how long it’s been since the temperature was above the freezing point of water… that’s pretty cold.

For the most part, the temperature hasn’t really been a hardship. It is the Upper Midwest, and it is winter, and we do expect this sort of thing. Half of Wisconsin’s tourist economy, surely, is based on festivals, Brewers games, and trips to The Dells in warm weather, and on hunting, snow sports, and ice fishing in cold weather. If you remove one of these components, we just aren’t ourselves.

Snow sports, however, are dependent upon the type of snow you get. Just ask anyone who’s tried to complete the Birkie in recent years. What’s easy to hand-shovel from the driveway is terrific for skiing but inadequate for building snow forts in the yard. What’s great for the snowmobile trails might make it impossible for you to get out of your driveway. And the cold that freezes the lake solid enough for ice fishing might come with blustery winds that could make your fishing experience utterly miserable.

Last month I got the perfect combination of weather to finally make cross-country skiing possible with skis I had held on to since 1999 and used only once. I had two sets of skis and boots — veteran skis, rescued rentals from a golf course in Ohio that had run out of the right kind of winter weather decades before and were storing the unused ski equipment in a shed and thinking about tossing the whole lot of them. I had the skis cleaned and given a waxless waxing (yeah, even the people who serviced the skis chuckled at that phrase), and went out with a friend to see what kind of skiing could be had literally in my own backyard.

In farm country, the word “backyard” could mean just the part around the house that you keep mowing. In this case, I’m stretching the definition to reach to the edges of my rental property, on the other side of the fields worked by the farmer-neighbor just down the road. At the north edge of “my” property is a marked snowmobile trail, and it takes just a couple of minutes to ski over to it. My friend and I had a blast breaking a fresh trail through and around the fields, even though we fell down sometimes and one of his ski boots separated from its sole about halfway through our adventure.

Just a little duct tape, and — ta daah! Good as old!

Just a little duct tape, and — ta daah! Good as old!

Last week (with my friend wearing a different set of vintage ski boots, which didn’t split apart until we were almost back to the house) we decided to do a longer ski in the midafternoon, following the snowmobile trail for about another quarter mile before we took a path where snowmobiles were forbidden. It was quiet, peaceful, and lovely at a comfortable 14 degrees. The rolling uphills were challenging; the downslopes, exhilarating. We even saw a few deer hurrying across the snow-covered fields to hide from the local hunters. In the end, our ski loop was nearly three miles long when we got back to my house, cold and weary and with my smartphone’s battery at 1 percent.

That’s when my friend realized that his keys had fallen out of his pocket — possibly close to the house on the return stretch, but most likely right at the furthest point of our route. Now it was 4pm, with the sun setting at 4:30 and the temperatures dipping as the light faded. We switched ski boots for snow boots, grabbed a flashlight, some juice, and a granola bar, and basically did the whole trip over again, but this time hiking through a foot of snow, climbing hills, going over and through barbed-wire fences, and eventually finding the keys right where we knew they would be (“and there was much rejoicing”) and then hiking our way out back to the roads in the dark as the feeling in our fingers and toes started to disappear. Even though a Good Samaritan stopped to give us a ride home for the last mile, it took me an hour or two to warm up back at the house.

I thought that was cold.

I was so wrong.

This weekend a polar inversion is charging at us, and the wind-chill values are forecast to be -40 to -70°F in our area. Many schools cancelled their Monday classes on Friday or Saturday. Keeping the house’s temperature at a comfortable but not indulgent level means a temperature difference of 110 to 140 degrees between inside and outside. Plugging in a heater in each upstairs bedroom often trips the breaker, which has to be located and reset. I have several windows to seal with plastic and double-sided tape and a hair dryer. It’s too cold to be outside to play; the winds will be too high for the roads to be safe from icing and snowdrifts.

We are wearing footie pajamas and double socks and long underwear indoors and having hot chocolate available at every meal. We’re hunkering down and making soup and baking cookies and playing video games and knitting. We suggest you do the same!

Yesterday it was a roast in the slow cooker. Today it's beef stew served over rice.

Yesterday it was a roast in the slow cooker. Today it’s beef stew served over rice.

What I’m knitting this week:

This pattern is an oldie but a goodie. I’ve knitted this stitch pattern almost more often than I’ve knitted stockinette. It was publicized by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee in 2006 as her One-Row Handspun Scarf pattern. It is a one-row wonder that I’ve surely raved about before; it’s easy to knit, it’s completely reversible, and it doesn’t have a particularly masculine or feminine look to it so it can be used on garments for anyone. I am knitting this with uncharacteristic-for-me Red Heart because of the Tangerine color which is almost exactly Blaze Orange, because during the recon mission for my friend’s car keys a hunter called to us from his hiding place and said we were lucky nobody shot us because we looked like deer. Really? Well, if you can’t tell the difference between bipedal, conversing human beings and white-tailed deer, I suppose I should help you out a bit. Be warned, hunters, that if this works for me I might be knitting up some matching cowls and antler cozies for the local deer herd. When I log this project into Ravelry, I’m planning to call it “Don’t Shoot.”

It's what all the fashionable deer might soon be wearing.

It’s what all the fashionable deer might soon be wearing.

Published in: on January 5, 2014 at 4:06 pm  Comments (4)  

Week Forty-Two: The Oncoming Storm

When October’s chill is in the air

And time draws nigh for forty-second post

I scratch my head and sit upon my chair

To think about the things that matter most.

Should I about my new employment write?

Share knitting-feats accomplished in a week?

Discourse on winter’s soon-approaching blight?

Or take a poll; learn what my readers seek?

Instead, I choose departure from the norm.

From Miami’s old degree I blow the dust,

Selecting an extravagance of form

With elegance which soon demands I must

Find comfort in a blanket weaved from words,

And snuggle in with wineglass and cheese curds.

Published in: on October 18, 2013 at 9:00 am  Comments (1)  

Week Thirty-One: Head in the Clouds

Today was a Wisconsin summer day so beautiful that it demanded I spend at least a little time doing nothing but appreciating it.

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East.

I sat on the porch gazing at a rich blue sky filled with fluffy white non-rain clouds. The wind blew gently through the maple trees, the cedars, and the overgrown lilac bush. Sunlight warmed the lush green grass that could have been cut today if anyone had been in a big hurry, which no one was. To take up blades and engines against the peaceful natural sounds of the afternoon would have been an act of needless and misplaced aggression.

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Northwest.

While I sat, I snacked on a cup of popcorn (whose kernels had come from the fields of our CSA) and idly played a word game on my smartphone. But mostly I sat quietly and just was.

The kids were all inside the house, their various electronic devices aiding their re-entry to daily life after the end of an extended vacation time in which they’d traveled more than 1500 miles. (Without air conditioning. Sorry, kids.) There was no need for them to be rushed outside lest they “miss” the peace and beauty.

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Northwest.

I recall many teenage summer days on which I always seemed to be in the wrong place, doing the wrong thing. I’m not even talking about the day I was bitten by a dog while I was on one of my bike rides. I refer to the many days on which I sat in my bedroom, engrossed in a book, until I was told “It’s beautiful! You ought to be outside!” So, out I went. Or I was lying on a beach towel on the deck, hoping to achieve a tan that would fill in the background of my freckled skin (and praying I wouldn’t simply burn), until I was told, “What a waste of time — you ought to be reading a book.” So, in I went.

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South.

I never did manage to crack the code of knowing exactly what I was supposed to be doing on any particular day. But the best days were those when I told my bicycle where to go, and pedaled along country roads flanked by corn and soybeans (in alternate years, soybeans and corn), with the sun high in the blue sky and the buzzards lazily circling too high above me to cause concern.

Sometimes I rode alone, sometimes with a buddy, connecting the dots of ice-cream stands, elementary school playgrounds, state parks, and rustic farm stands selling fresh fruit, Amish butter cheese, and goats’-milk fudge. It made for summers of heavenly freedom, and as long as I got home in time for dinner nobody bothered me about where I’d been.

Up.

Up.

I appreciated my freedom at that time, and appreciate it in retrospect even more. I would hesitate today before allowing a teenaged child to be gone all day with no idea of where they were or any way to reach me. But it’s a generous gift to give someone their freedom of choice as to how they may spend a fine summer’s day.

Published in: on August 1, 2013 at 10:19 pm  Comments (1)  

Week Twenty-Four: There and Back Again

Since last week’s post I have made “homemade” ice cream twice (quotation marks here because I used a Rival ice cream base instead of making a custard), made asparagus soup completely from scratch (starting with harvesting the asparagus from the back yard), survived a youth soccer tournament (three games spread out over four hours, with nary a goal for our valiant and exhausted team), and bought a share in a CSA farm (it turns out that I am that kind of person).

Potage, Crème D'Asperges Vertes

Potage, Crème D’Asperges Vertes

These accomplishments pale compared to the round trip I made on Monday and Tuesday to drop off The Teen at my parents’ house in Ohio. My seven-year-old also came along, to be company for me on the way back. I have done this trip before — oh, soooo many times. I moved away in 1999 and made at least three round trips that year, and probably at least two round trips every year after that. Feel free to do the math (it’s not really that interesting or complex). However, I’ve never done it as a simple overnight round trip. My policy has always been to spend more time at the destination than I spend on the drive, and I’ve almost always stuck to that. This trip, however, needed to happen, and I made it happen.

I am…tired. Sore. Uneager to drive more than ten miles at a stretch, for a while. But I have to admit that my Eldest and Youngest Boys made for good travelling companions. I don’t know the proportions with any certainty, but part of it is because they’re nice guys. Part of it is because we have all made this drive so many times that, as a family, we can pass by a bunch of grain silos painted with some generic corporate logo and remark, “These are the ones that used to say ‘Popcorn, Indiana’.” I think they know where I’m going to turn by when I change lanes. They certainly accept my nicknames for landmarks.

Propellerville. Otherwise known as The Area Between Wolcott and Lafayette, Indiana.

It was a fine trip, all 999.7 miles of it, but I’m going to bed now. Pretty soon, I’ll have to make this trip again — taking three and bringing back four. I’m going to need a bigger car for that one.

Published in: on June 13, 2013 at 10:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Week Fifteen: Time to Catch a Train

As a friend recently pointed out to me, it was high time I reached out my arm and caught the next train that was passing by. Fortunately for me, it was the calculus train and it was just a few stops ahead of the station at which I disembarked last fall. Allllll aboard for Objective Functions, Antiderivatives, and Integration!

Last week I was able to make a short visit to campus, and I happened to check the office hours of my calculus professor from last semester. I was pleased to find that she was once again teaching Calculus I, but in the mornings this time, and holding a review session on Friday mornings. I showed up last Friday and surprised myself with some of the things I was able to remember how to do. Monday, with her permission, I started sitting in on the class itself, and she used my work on an objective function problem as the example she put under the opaque projector! (I am told by educational personnel more in touch with audio-visual equipment that this is called something else. I am of the age to call it an opaque projector because the device is projecting an image, and the original does not need to be on a transparency.) She just took my whole notebook and stuck it there under the camera. Gosh, I’m glad I wrote neatly. (The radius was 3.04 cm and the height was 12.2 cm. So there.)

All she wants me to do is take the tests with the rest of the class. They just had a test handed back, so it looks as if my ticket has been punched for the rest of the trip. One more regular test and the final exam, and I will be finished with the course. With the opportunity to go to campus every morning and study, go to class, and study some more, I can do my best and have no excuses. And frankly, the material is a bit easier for me now that I’m hearing everything a second time, with some space in between. I will have my afternoons for errands and editing work.

When I’m not editing, I’m reorganizing the house. My middle son turns 9 this weekend, and he wants to have his birthday party at our house. I’m never thrilled about cleaning for cleaning’s sake anyway, but the house is much more disorganized than what cleaning will fix. A huge social deadline may be just what I need to make me finally get our stuff in the right places, and get rid of the stuff we don’t need. Several rooms are already done and they give off a happy vibe now. But there are many more left to go… plus a party to plan, and probably at least one thing to bake. I really should make a list or something.

And starting this weekend, or maybe not, I am a soccer mom. My youngest child is signed up for city rec sports outdoor soccer (yes, indoor soccer is a thing) and they cancelled the first game because the fields still had snow and/or mud on them. The second game is supposed to be this Saturday morning. At 9am. With no coach. It’s been raining all week and the field is underwater, so I’m praying hoping that this one is cancelled too. In the meantime we have already bought him soccer shorts, soccer shoes, soccer socks, soccer shin guards, and a portable soccer goal. UPDATE: Yes, this weekend’s game has also been cancelled. So now it starts the following Saturday morning, with make-up games on a couple of Wednesday nights. Oh, how interesting this will be.

Just to carry along the train theme, here is the video for “Driver 8” by R.E.M.

Published in: on April 11, 2013 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Week Eleven: This Thursday Intentionally Left Blank

Did you miss me yesterday? Sorry, I’m transitioning (temporarily) to Friday posts so that I won’t miss a week when I’m on Spring Break in a couple of weeks with the kidlets.

Someone asked me this week, “So, where are you going for Spring Break?” Of course I answered “OHIO!” with a big fistpump. Even when I was in college in Ohio I took my Spring Breaks in Ohio. And it was usually in the middle of March, so even if you felt springlike, there was no getting around the fact that it was NOT a good time to start your own personal cycling season; the temperatures were usually in the range of 40 to 50°F. If I got any riding done when I was home on break, I usually had a sore throat and a cold by the next week. It… wasn’t exactly a vacation at the beach.

Okay, time for progress reports!

Last Sunday I was enjoying the lack of need to go anywhere since the weather was crappy. I sat on the couch and knitted on my Wingspan shawl until I ran out of yarn near the end of the 8th triangle. Lo and behold, the second skein of yarn for it arrived on Monday afternoon. YESSSSS. It is a different dye lot and looks a bit darker to me, but I really don’t mind or care. I get to keep knitting.

HPIM6948

In the meantime I have pulled out a pair of socks I started knitting last October or so, on yarn that has been languishing in my stash for years. (How many years? Well, I stopped in at Ruhama’s in Milwaukee [all right, really Whitefish Bay] before I saw “Mean Girls” in the theater. Which came out in 2004. That’s a pretty long time for a skein of fine-looking German sock yarn to make up its mind about what it wants to be. And who would have guessed it would actually want to be socks?) They’re intended for someone whose feet I don’t have immediate access to, so I really hope they’re going to fit. Knitting fitted items to spec is not one of my natural gifts, so while I can knit socks, they usually go to someone whose feet happen to be the right size. Locating people whose feet fit my socks is also a gift.

HPIM6951

And…. drum roll…. tomorrow I shall knit the Very Last Piece for the project-which-will-soon-be-unveiled. I cannot tell you how hard it has been this week to only knit one piece per day for this project, with the end so near in sight. There was such a temptation to hole up and crank out the knitting and finish early. I decided to join the resistance and maintain the pace, despite how eager I was to get the whole thing “done.”

In non-knitting news, the kidlets really did a lot of stuff since my last post. Middle Son won a trophy in a spelling bee, Youngest Son earned a ribbon in the same bee and then proceeded to lose his two front teeth over the weekend. Eldest Son went and turned 14, putting a real cramp in my tendency to still think of my inner self as 22. He’s almost taller than I am, and his feet are already bigger than mine (though we can still trade shoes in an emergency). And I went ahead with my valiant weight-loss plan, did two Jillian Michaels workouts in two consecutive days, and completely wrecked myself. I took Thursday off from programmed exercise, and by the end of the day I was able to go both up and down the stairs without screaming involuntarily. I’m calling that a victory and will strive to make progress from there.

Back to knitting news! Due to an unexpectedly favorable alignment of circumstances, I will be able to attend Late Night Knitting tonight for the first time in more than a year. It takes me an hour to drive there (and there might be freezing rain in the early evening), but I can stay until they kick me out at 11pm. Then (sigh) I have to drive homeward for another hour (and there might be snow in the late evening). On Saturday there is a rummage sale/bake sale at my kids’ school (for which I will be baking) from 8 until noon, so I’ll need to be there at least at the beginning of that. Then I think there’s a Pokémon tournament somewhere that needs to be Hung Out At with Eldest Son. Then there will be a Batman movie to watch, Doctor Who to view, and some test knitting for Phase Two of the Ginormous Secret Project. Then…. ah, how I like being busy.

Published in: on March 15, 2013 at 10:13 am  Comments (2)  

Week Nine: The Ninety-Three Percent

As of today I’ve hit an important milestone on a knitting project I’ve been working on for a few years now. For various reasons I am not ready to reveal its nature in this space (but those of you who know me from “another space” will be able to figure it out pretty quickly), but I can say that I now have just 15 units left to knit before I assemble the whole thing. That puts the project at 93 percent complete, though in truth after I have those other 15 parts knitted I will call it no more than 99 percent until every last end is woven in. And because even the pre-assembly work is going to take some time, I can’t even give you an estimate as to when this project will be completed, photographed, and fully shared. Just know that I am very happy that my daily work, which I’ve been referring to as “quota knitting,” is getting me steadily closer to a huge creative goal.

MathWarehouse-pie

But trust me. When I do the reveal, you won’t miss it! (You may question my sanity, but you won’t miss it.)

Most of you, when you see it, will want to ask me one question. The answer to that question will be “yes.”

I’ve also been chugging away on the Wingspan shawl and really should take another picture now that I’ve finished 5 of the 8 wedges that make it up. I don’t know if it’s the merino sock yarn, or the Addi Turbo needles, or a combination of factors, but I find it delightful to knit on it and shall be sad when I’ve finished it. But finishing it will allow me to take care of some other projects that also need my attention. Such as socks made from sock yarn. (What a concept!)

This week has been busy with healing myself body and soul, shoveling show out of the way, and driving kids to, fro, and back again as they all took turns being under the weather in various ways (dental work, low-grade fevers, sniffles & sneezes, and good old-fashioned hooky-playing). One of the best things I did was go back to campus Thursday morning and reapply myself to my calculus book. I’m having to start almost from scratch with the math, but today I got to a place where I am doing well and seem to have a deeper understanding of the type of problems I’m solving. We’ll see. Between the weather and everyone’s health it’s been tough to get down there. Now that we’re healthier I am renewing my commitment to finishing the course. My math-related plans after that point are still nebulous, but slowly forming.

My progress on my other resolutions has been somewhat hampered by the knitting done on these two garter-stitch projects, but there is a small project I had intended to cast on for on Valentine’s Day that calls for a new type of cast-on. So as soon as one of these projects is complete (most likely Wingspan), I will try it out and perhaps be able to check off one more completed resolution.

And finally… it’s finally MARCH! My already-teenage son will turn 14, my sister will be performing at SXSW in Austin (on his birthday!), we will have Spring Break, and DOCTOR WHO will be back on television!

DW-Artwork-NEW

Published in: on March 1, 2013 at 4:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

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.

Same as the old boss

What a long week! I got slammed with a sinus infection on my first day of school, then the meds slammed me again. There were also snowstorms on Tuesday (to and from school) and Friday (after school) that kept me as alert as possible. I worked 15 hours in the Languages & Literatures Department, mostly photocopying syllabi on Tuesday and posting “class cancelled” notices on Friday. It turns out that I probably won’t be able to count on getting that many hours in a regular week once the schedule is set, so I’ll probably be looking for an additional campus job to help pay for classes. I have a couple of leads.

Unfortunately, there was almost no knitting this week. The roads were terrible on Tuesday night, so I wouldn’t have gone into town for knit night anyway, but it was a Scout night, so I didn’t go to Scouts instead. I missed both morning knitting times, as I will for this whole semester, and I was so busy on Friday afternoon that I didn’t get home until about 5:30 anyway. There was no way in the snowfall that I was even thinking of driving to Verona anyway, which takes an hour in each direction on a clear day.

Friday brought something new… a first step in an assessment for Jack. I wanted him to be checked with Asperger’s Syndrome in mind, but after half an hour of watching him scoot across the exam room on the doctor’s “spinny chair” on his stomach, touch everything in the room, open all the drawers, and interrupt a million times, the doc wisely remarked, “I don’t really see Asperger’s here, but have you thought about ADHD?”

Well…. duh. I’d said years ago that I didn’t want him to go off to public school because he would have come home with a Ritalin prescription in hand on the first day, but I hadn’t taken my own words seriously. Viewing him through this filter, it makes a lot of sense. He doesn’t have a formal diagnosis yet, but we got a referral to someone who can make one, we set another eval appointment for two weeks out, and I have a pile of questionnaires to fill out myself and to distribute to other relevant parties. So, if you know a kid with ADHD or are an ADDult yourself, feel free to chime in with positive suggestions. The kid definitely needs some coping tools and some impulse control. He’ll be super scary when he gets focused!

Resolution Update

  1. I am publishing this post on Saturday as I promised. Check.
  2. No progress on the DNA Scarf, and none to speak of on the blanket squares either.
  3. I must have thrown something out….
  4. I’m current with my homework for Precalculus (and still looking for how to access the homework file for Astronomy).
  5. I did a quick weigh-in this morning on the Wii after not working out all week (except for burning 450 calories a minute by gripping the steering wheel until my knuckles turned white and my fingers locked up). I’m down a bit but didn’t make my incremental goal. Time to set a new goal and keep drinking the green tea.

Alcatraz update: I DVRed the show and watched it closely for two hours, but didn’t pick up on where Lydia’s song was. Ben says it’s in the gun-shop sequence, so I’ll have to watch it again and crank up the sound. I do kind of like the show. Thanks to everyone who watched the show, mentioned it to other people, or shared the video of Lydia performing “How Many Women.” Every little bit helps, and sometimes they turn into big bits.

Published in: on January 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm  Comments (2)