Thanksgiving Break Lessons

…was far too short, and far too full of people for my taste. A family Thanksgiving dinner and a family milestone birthday party within four days were gatherings that were just too big, too noisy, too crowded and chaotic for my peace of mind, and that was with one whole branch of the family missing entirely.

After all these years, I should learn to not let my one sister get on my nerves, period end of story. I should learn not to speak my mind to my older nieces because they have not developed an ability to filter what they hear and say. I should learn to arrive late to crowded gatherings, and leave early, to lessen the risk that my tolerance of crowds will run out prematurely. I should learn that there is just no pleasing some people. I should learn that thinking of myself is not selfish, it’s sanity-saving.

Knit Project #1 DONE

Yesterday I bound off my first knitting project, and late in the night I finished weaving in the ends. It’s done!! I have cast-on, knittedknittedknittedknitted endlessly it seemed, bound off, and woven in ends. I do still have to wash it, which I plan to do a bit vigorously to felt it a bit, and I will have a nice broad cowl-type scarf that can be worn with a handmade scarf pin. So for all these years I said I couldn’t knit, now I can.

All it took was figuring out that I needed to work on circular needles instead of straight ones, and Continental-style instead of English-style. Perhaps it’s because I have crocheted off and on for many years, but Continental just makes so much more sense, at least for knit stitch.

Project #2 is already cast on as of five minutes ago — a much narrower scarf, in a pattern that will have me mastering the purl stitch both in stockinette and ribbing. Plus I couldn’t choose a simple pattern, no — I decided to do one that involves short rows to get ruffles, which means I’ll have to get the hang of the wrap and turn (which in truth doesn’t seem that difficult from the instructions, so I am not sure why people are kvetching about it online).

Not only that, I have project #3 and #4 already in mind — the Moebius Scarf a la Cat Bordhi and the simple shawl pattern I got at Lovin’ Knits a couple of weeks ago, both of which I already have yarn for so that all I need is the needles for the moebius.

Once I get four or so scarves/shawls done, perhaps I feel ready to go on to my next goal — SOCKS, first with commercial yarn and then my ultimate goal, HANDSPUN HANDKNIT SOCKS. Yum.

Black Friday

It’s Tuesday night, and I am already sick sick SICK of the Black Friday commercials. WalMart, Target, BestBuy, Toys ‘R’ Us — I loathe all of you. Thank you for putting a huge damper on my enjoyment of the limited amount of TV I watch (DWTS finals!). </sarcasm>.

This is a Job For the Karma Fairy

Last fall at the Atlanta Bead Expo, a customer saw my stainless steel European 4-in-1 chainmaille cuff on my wrist and fell in love with it. I really didn’t want to sell it, because it had been a bugger to make and I knew it would take me a while to make another to replace it. She finally did talk me into selling it to her right off my wrist (for a pretty penny, of course, and it did take me a year to make its replacement).

She stopped by our booth this afternoon at the Down the Street Bead Show, and told her that she had worn it constantly, until someone STOLE IT from her. She didn’t know who, or why — maybe they thought it was sterling silver and much more valuable monetarily than it is; maybe they just really liked it themselves. Either way, I told her that if she ever found who did it, I wanted a crack at them also (DH suggested with a baseball bat, mind you). I sold it to her because of her reaction to it and her appreciation of the energy and time and labor that had gone into it.

I hope the Karma Fairy ensures that the thief gets no joy out of that bracelet, and that it eventually finds its way to someone who recognizes and appreciates its true worth.

The November Crud Attacketh

Every year, at some point in November, I get the creeping crud. No matter how hard I try to fight it off, I fail. It snuck into my system and reared its ugly head yesterday. I hoped it would just quietly vanish, but alas, no such luck. By 5 p.m. Andrea sent me home from the bead show. Well, by 5 p.m. I was ready to go home, put on my comfy cotton jammies, and crawl in bed with a cup of hot tea.

And, as has become our tradition, as I was lying there in my jammies sniffling and feeling crummy, Gary looked at me and asked, “Will you marry me?” And, as I always do, I say “yes.”

Grief is a funny thing

I really didn’t cry at all when Dad died last month. But I have been in tears off and on all day today thinking about the three Good Mews cats that were euthanized in the past two and a half weeks. As I read the tributes to Theo on Facebook today, and contributed my own comments, the tears just welled up and overflowed.

So of course the analytical side of me has to try to figure out why. It’s not like I had adopted Pops or Marley or Theo myself. They aren’t the only Good Mews cats I’ve known and loved to cross over the Rainbow Bridge — there’s Sargent, and Wonder, and Harry, and Samantha and Louise, and Gideon, and Relish…I could go on and on. I didn’t have the bond with them that I had with Iris, and that I have with Sarah and Mr. Boots and Donovan.

Maybe it’s that these three were special even among special cats. Maybe it’s that I shed my tears for Dad as I watched him battle his pulmonary fibrosis and heart problems for the past seven years.

Maybe it’s that I feel I CAN let myself grieve openly for these babies because, though I loved them, they didn’t mean nearly as much to me as Dad. It’s safe to shed tears for them.

Farewell to Some Feline Friends

The volunteers of Good Mews Animal Foundation are having an emotional November. Two of our most memorable residents have made the journey to Rainbow Bridge; a third will be joining them tomorrow morning.

Pops was found up near Canton on a brutal January weekend, emaciated and frozen almost to death. Marley was found huddled under a dryer vent in the cold of November in similar condition, with matted clumps of his half-shaved-off fur weighing his frail body down. Good Mews took in both of them in, and miraculously, with treatment and loving care, they survived their respective ordeals. Once healthy, both were adopted by families who loved and spoiled them as they deserved. Pops was renamed Lionel, and enjoyed all the comforts that an elderly cat deserves. Marley made an appearance at last month’s Kitty Kegger, where he was the star of the evening as the symbol of all that Good Mews embodies.

 

Sadly, age and past suffering caught up with both of them. Pops crossed the Bridge on November 1st, and Marley followed him two days later.

Today we found out that Theo, our “Shelter Manager” until he was adopted a year ago by the Brabant family, will make the journey tomorrow. Theo has been battling renal failure for some months now, and it has clearly progressed to the point where prolonging his life would only be prolonging suffering. Theo is one of a kind — a handsome black cat who loved to dress up in fancy collars and ties, a cat with his own Facebook account, loved by everyone who knew him.

Theo Brabant, New Years 2011

Looking very dapper, our Theo!

 

Theo will not only meet up with Marley and Pops, he will be reunited with his best friend Marshmallow, who passed away at the shelter from a sudden heart attack in March, 2010.

BFFs Forever -- Theo and Marshmallow

In addition, one of our own lost her battle with cancer  a week and a half ago. Fellow adoption counselor and volunteer Janey MacIntyre will be missed by all the other volunteers who knew and worked with her over the years.

Those of us left behind grieve and miss them, but we are comforted to know that they are out of pain and at peace.

 

Me Time

I never subscribed to the common belief that women were supposed to put husband and children first, then other family, then community, and themselves last. I’ve always needed Me Time, and I never was willing to sacrifice it for someone else’s needs. Maybe it would get abbreviated at times, but something had to be there so that I could decompress & recharge.

It was hard to find that time when I was in my first marriage and primarily responsible for raising my son. I had to learn to take it in little dribs and drabs — waiting for the school bus, grabbing breakfast between the school drop-off and the arrival at work, whatever snatches of time came along. Even then, the temptation was strong to DO something productive with that time. I got around that fairly often, though, by using the time to journal.

Today I took the free hour between work and dance class and just chilled, Me Time. I went to the Starbuck’s near the dance studio, got a latte, and sat down with my computer & my knitting. I took a few minutes to finish up & publish a long-delayed blog post on Thursday Nights at Windy Hill, and then just sipped my latte & knitted a bit. I had to really fight the urge to see what else in the to-do book could be done at that moment. Luckily, the Internet connection was slow today, so there really wasn’t much I COULD do except sit and sip and knit and turn the brain off.

It felt good.

I’d Rather Do It Myself

I found out today that one of the two people we hired to teach CS this year is quitting at the end of the semester. That’s all I know about it because I didn’t want to pry for the gory details in such a public setting, but my suspicion is that he didn’t really have a clue what teaching at a community college is all about. His perception was what he saw the professors doing at the Large Research University where he earned his Ph.D.

We don’t teach one or two classes per semester; we teach four or five. That is certain to involve at least two preps, more likely three, sometimes four. We don’t do much in the way of research, and what we do is teaching-related, not subject-matter-related. The committee work is something that occurs everywhere, and it’s not going to be much different from one academic institution to the next. And no, you don’t necessarily get to teach what you want, when you want — curriculum is dictated by committees directed by Higher Powers, and scheduled according to the needs and desires of the customers, er, I mean the students.

Anyway, this means another search this year. In fact, I was told that there would be TWO CS searches this year, one for a F2F position and one for an online position. That’s three years running. When The Dean told me that Person was quitting, she grinned and said “you know what that means,” followed by something along the lines that I didn’t HAVE to chair the committee unless I wanted to. It didn’t take much thought to say I didn’t mind chairing it. The alternatives would make me bat-shit crazy — One is disorganized as all get-out, Two won’t do anything unless you tell them exactly what to do and when to do it, and Three, well, let’s just say that Three won’t do for various reasons. So I can either go crazy with someone else chairing the committee or go crazy chairing it myself.

I think I’ll chair it myself. At least then I can control the crazy.

Overcoming fears

From NaBloPoMo, today’s prompt courtesy of Ricki Lake:

I was terrified to go on DWTS, but facing my fear and overcoming it has been an incredible experience. Have you faced fears and overcome them?

I’ve been terrified every time I’ve had to get up in front of strangers and do ANYTHING. I have never enjoyed being the center of attention. In high school & college, I rarely raised my hand to be called on, and if I was called on anyway I generally froze. In ninth grade, I had a tiny solo in our chorus musical; during the performance for the rest of the school I completely blew it with a fit of the giggles as soon as I opened my mouth. Mortification!

I don’t know how I walked into my classroom the first semester I taught and faced a group of total strangers who not only expected me to know something about the subject, but also expected me to be able to communicate it to them. Somehow, though, I stuttered & stumbled my way through the semester. The next one was easier. Yet, even after over twenty years of doing this term after term, there’s always that uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach when I walk in and see those strange faces the first day. By now, though, I’ve made so many mistakes in front of a class that I can just laugh, shrug, and move on. Why? Because nothing really bad ever happened as a result. Maybe I looked like an idiot for a few minutes, but it passed very quickly and soon no one remembered.

I’ve given talks and presented papers in front of good-sized audiences. That is still scary. For those situations, I just go in as prepared as I possibly can be, and tell myself over & over that *I* am the expert, and all these people are here because (presumably) they are interested in what I have to say. And if not and things go totally awry, I have the wry sense of humor and the chutzpah to either make people laugh or set people straight, as appropriate.

I still have a lot of performance fear. Had I not taken up bellydancing, I could probably ignore this one for the rest of my life. In fact, if I opted never to perform I could ignore this one. But there’s something intoxicating about getting up there with one or more other women and just dancing together. The practice and rehearsal beforehand builds an amazing camaraderie if you let it. Bellydance is my current way of really stretching myself by learning something way outside my comfort zone, and the scariness of performing, with a bared midriff no less, in front of a bunch of people is just another way of stretching my boundaries further. I don’t want to become like so many people I’ve known as they aged, and the way to avoid that seems to involve continuing to learning and grow and stretch your mind and body further than you think they will stretch.