Wednesday, February 22, 2017

that was weird

Okay. So. Last night, sitting at home, suddenly had a wave of something like nausea. Sat still for a while and it passed.

Then I got achy, to the point where finding a comfortable sleep-position was hard.

Then, this morning, working at my desk, I was still achy. And then my back started hurting badly enough I thought, "Crud, could I be getting a kidney stone?"

And then my right side started aching in concert with the shoulder and I thought, "Oh crud, is my gallbladder going? Am I going to wind up in surgery for my birthday?" I also felt kind of overheated.

When I stood up, the pain went away. (This desk chair though. It needs to be replaced but I guess that's on me because of budget cuts. But it's 15 years old, been used nearly every day of that time, and I'm not a tiny skinny willow of a person, AND I fidget in my chair). Part of it could be just a bad, non-ergonomic set up. (I want a Varidesk even though my current desk configuration wouldn't work with it. I think being able to stand to work at times might help with my aches and pains)

And now, I feel mostly better. My back and shoulders still hurt, but they usually do when I'm stressed and hunched over the computer. (And my ability to spell/type has gone all to heck all of a sudden; I keep making typos and having to fix them. And in class I "lost my words" a couple times and had to stop and think hard about what I was going to say next).

Allergies? Can allergies cause aches? Or, could it be some little 24 hour bug that blew through but because I'm otherwise so robust, couldn't find a place to settle and make me sick?

I will say I think I'm going to lay off the mashed cauliflower for tonight....just in case my body doesn't tolerate it as well as I thought.

ETA:

I flipped over my desk chair and to my horror, found that the metal had fatigued and almost nothing was holding the seat in place. I am now sitting in the "visitor chair," which is far more comfortable (because it's not worn out). I may ask my chair if there are any spare chairs (heh) around. If not, maybe I just splurge on a new one and put a name plate on it indicating it's mine - because the old chair needs to go away, it's no longer safe.


Also, I suppose some of this could be Stupid (peri?)Menopause playing havoc with my body. I ruefully joked the other day that apparently my body finally learned how to count to 28, after I had what I suspect was Mittelschmerz in what would be the exact middle (14 days in) of the cycle.

I dunno. Growing old is a hell of a trip.

Edited to add more: after about 10 minutes in the "visitor chair," my pains are almost gone, so that old chair was NOT good. I probably better see what needs to be done to dispose of it - it's unsafe and also ergonomically bad.


***

Still later: at home, post workout. AMAZED at how much better I feel - I guess that old chair was making me hunch up and was inflaming my bad shoulder and my hip bursitis, and maybe making my insides gripe me, too....at one point today I was wondering if I could be brewing a kidney stone (vague lower back pain) and then I was worried about my gallbladder (though the pain was a little too high and too midline for that).

Our excellent custodian (really, we get awesome support staff, especially considering how poorly they're paid) is going to haul it off for me and he said he had another one squirreled away somewhere that could replace it. So I put it out in the hall and then showed my colleague T. how the metal had fatigued and broken. He grabbed the chair and tried to sit in it and was like "Holy cow, that's UNCOMFORTABLE" so I know it wasn't all in my mind....I think it's because I tend to sit with one leg cocked up under me (I should not) or at times, tried to sit cross-legged in the chair (also should not) and that probably wore on it more. Also, I'm just too big of a woman and probably most chairs are made for a 140 pound or so person and I'm a good bit more than that....though also, fifteen years of nearly-daily use for multiple hours a day is probably a long life for an office chair, and these weren't exactly Herman Millers either.

My one bad hip is still bothering me a little but that may take a while to improve. It's pretty wicked hot here right now for February or I'd try putting heat on it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

It's Surprise! Pony!

I have a friend on Ravelry whose daughter, off and on, has done custom My Little Ponies. (AFAIK, only Gen 3).

Well, this afternoon, when the mail truck pulled up (quite late, but I guess they had to recover from yesterday's no-mail day) there were three packages for me....

1. some yarn for a shawl that was part of my birthday present to myself. (Mrs. Crosby in the colors A New Leaf and Boston Fern - I am actually already calling the not-cast-on-yet shawl the "Henrietta Lowell" shawl in my head because of A New Leaf)

2. another Monster High doll, ordered when I was in a funk of feeling sorry for myself (a Ghoulia Yelps, who is a zombie girl. And the best Ghoulia was the Prom Ghoulia, so she came with her date Slowman, who is also a zombie. Hm. So monsters must assortatively mate?)

3. A total surprise.....a little box from chiengoraspinner (my rav friend). But knowing her daughter's hobby I had kind of guessed it.

Oh, and an aside - I walked down to meet the mail delivery person, and she asked if I had had any more trouble getting and receiving cards. And I told her yes, I had - and she said she'd talk to her supervisor because apparently no one did anything when I complained before. She said she took it personally when someone didn't get their mail.

But anyway. The surprise box? It was a PONY! A special, modded/refurbished G3 pony.

Behold!





I'm quite sure she's a re-hair job (which, from the doll/pony blogs I read: it's a lot of work, especially the mane) because that's a unique color of hair and I've never seen it on a pony before (also, it's a slightly different texture - softer and more flowing)

I am calling her Cherry Cordial. Because of the cherries and because her hair and tail are sort of a chocolate color. ("Cherry cordial" is another name for those chocolate-covered cherry candies).

I really like her. Especially since she was a total surprise.

I really need to get a special pony shelf for all my ponies from G1 and G3. I have them on top of my tall bookcases right now but that's less satisfying because I have to stand on a stool to take one down to hug it or look at it. And I'm starting to run out of room...

Tuesday morning things

* They mentioned this morning that allergens are at "March or April levels" right now because of the warm late-winter. And I wonder: could that be partly why I'm feeling so awful of late? For me, allergies manifest as much as emotional symptoms (cranky, sad) as physical ones.

I DO kind of have that "grey fuzz covering everything" feeling that I get when my allergies are bad - not that everything's awful but that it's not as good as it can be, and I look back at my earlier life and go, "but didn't I use to be happier?" So maybe that's it.

I hope that means the tree-allergy season is going to be over soon; they are the worst allergies for me.

* It's weird to suddenly not having to be pushing like crazy....I did some finishing touches (incorporating the analysis my advisor did for me) to the manuscript yesterday and my colleague apologized that he hadn't read it yet (I figured, given as he had relatives in this weekend, he wouldn't get to it right away, that's okay). When he does I can put whatever changes he suggests in and send it on.

But it is weird to be able to go, "After I go home for lunch today....I really don't have to go back this afternoon." These past several weeks I had actually been carrying my lunch to work on Tuesdays and eating at my desk because I needed the time to work.

I think I worked too hard these past few weeks.

* I think I might take some time this afternoon and go to the local gourmet shop (aka Our Last Interesting Small Business In Town) and see if there's anything for my dad's birthday. He's hard to buy for...I may also try to figure out something this weekend.

For a while in my family birthdays come every 2 weeks - mine, then my dad's, then my brother's. Then it's a gap until May when my sister-in-law's and my mom's come.

I might do a Lego store giftcard for my brother again, I don't know.

* I tried Green Giant brand frozen mashed cauliflower last night. It was....okay. While it was heating up, I thought, "wow, this actually smells kind of like mashed potatoes" but then when I took the film off the top to stir it, there was that wall o' cauliflower stink. (That's the big issue with some vegetables for me - less the taste than the smell). They were okay when they were done, and I will be able to continue eating them. But they aren't mashed potatoes and no one who had ever had proper mashed potatoes would be fooled by them.

But they're better for you.

As much as anything, that's the indicator for me that this is a fallen world: the things that taste really good, by and large, are not very healthful to eat, and the things that are especially healthful, with a few exceptions, don't taste that good. (And yeah, I know: if we still lived in caves we'd need the most calories possible and it tends to be the super-high-calorie stuff that tastes really good, so it's just as much "human evolution" as it is "a fallen world" but whatever it is, it kind of stinks, and I'm really noticing it with trying to eat lower carbohydrate to drop a few pounds....)

* Someone in my Twitter timeline commented on the idea of "feeling sorry" for a particular individual (who I won't name here but you probably know who he is) who has lost a book contract and the like. (The person on my timeline didn't say you SHOULD, however)

Anyway: I don't feel sorry for that person. The person traded on being a jerk and an a-hole to others, and now he's getting his comeuppance. And one thing I can say: the reason I am so broken in particular ways as a person is because of jerks and a-holes in my past, and so I really DON'T feel sorry for the consequences of being one coming back to bite someone. And maybe that's not a very Christian way to feel, but...yeah, your actions have consequences and in some cases you should suffer those consequences.

And while I'm saying things I will probably have to account for in the next life, I might as well also say: this would probably be a nicer world if people who were jerks to those around them faced more immediate consequences for that more often.

"Sorry not sorry" as the cool kids (of which I never was one) say.

*Edited to add: because I am making a conscious effort now to look for the joy, I give you More news of the Sweater-wearing Shetland Ponies.

They went on a boat trip to "visit their roots."

There needs to be a series of picture books about the sweater-wearing ponies, I think.


Is it wrong of me to really, really want a Shetland pony? They're like all the goodness of a horse but in a dog-sized package.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Perhaps, a deficiency?

I wonder if some of my grumpiness/despair these past few days has been a shortage of silly things combined with my head being too much in my work.

I know I haven't seen an episode of Ponies for a long, long time, and only have caught a few moments of We Bare Bears here and there. (I do own a couple Pony dvds and could watch those).

But this was featured on Equestria Daily today and as I said on Twitter, I approve of this:



Ievan's Polkka (better known to many as "that leekspin song") redone to be about Pinkie Pie.

I think if Pinkie Pie were a genre of music, she would be polka. And I don't mean that derogatorily; I grew up listening to polka, since I grew up in Northeastern Ohio, where there was a large Polish-and-other-Slavic immigrant community. (In fact, until I was in college, I just assumed everywhere had a radio station that played polka and broadcast in Polish for at least part of the day. Well, where I am now there are channels that broadcast Norteño music and broadcast in Spanish part of the day, so that's similar - a lot of Norteño is polka-influenced. And we also have a Hindi-language channel that plays some Indian music).

Actually, since I started with Pinkie, the other ponies' genres would be (at least as far as I think):

Rarity: show tunes, or perhaps opera
Rainbow Dash: rock, possibly either hair-metal or hard rock
Applejack (well, this is too easy): country and western
Twilight: probably some very complex music, either Baroque or perhaps a very complex and mathematical form of jazz
Fluttershy: possibly New Age, possibly a very sweet innocuous bubblegummy pop.

Or maybe Rarity is something like big-band/torch music and her little sister Sweetie Belle is show tunes, seeing as Sweetie has expressed a liking for that before. 


The swap, concluded

So the deal with the CPAAG swap (the one I posted my yarn and other goodies for last night) was that when you received your package, you posted it on the swap thread, and then your swap partner bought you a pattern from your wishlist (and you had to have a wishlist in order to participate....and yeah, it's kind of miserable doing a swap when (a) you don't know the person you are sending to and (b) they give little input as to what they like)

Anyway. I have a BIG Ravelry wishlist, so hopefully that was easy for my sender.

And she chose a good one: Celestarium (that is the Twist Collective link rather than Ravelry; I'm still unclear how much non-ravelry members can access from the page).

This is a huge and complex looking (but probably looks harder than it is) shawl designed to show the night sky as viewed in the southern hemisphere.

I once joked that it was "Twilight Sparkle's Favorite Shawl" because when Twilight pushed Rarity to "upgrade" her gala dress, Twilight wanted all the constellations and stuff on it.

On this shawl, the "stars" are marked with yarn overs and beads. Yeah, this is going to be my first go at bead-knitting but unlike some projects the author specifies you only need string one bead; all the later ones are added as you go using a crochet hook (there's a technique for this).

And it's charted rather than written in words, which always works better for me - I tend to be very visual and I like charts; it's also easier for me to see if something's wonky without having to count about a million stitches.

I also think it's one that, given its simplicity between the sections, should be easy enough to pick up and put down, and I can always put a pencil mark on the printout of the chart noting where I left off. (I will have to be sure to be good about that)

The idea of counting out and stringing 360 beads (no more, no fewer) and then also having to move the beads down the yarn as I worked....that would be too big a barrier for me. But putting them on one-by-one should be totally doable.

I.....might start this next after I finish the two most-nearly-finished sweaters (Raven and Hagrid) and do it instead. Definitely going to look for a nice night-sky yarn when I go to Quixotic Fibers this coming weekend, and I'm going to see if they sell beads, too. (If they don't, I have a lead on a good place to order from).

And yes, you might ask: where would you wear this? (I don't often wear my shawls these days). But it's not so much the wearing as the making. I can't climb mountains these days (no time, no nearby mountains, and hip bursitis) but this is kind of like my version of that. And if I were ever, for some reason, to move to a bigger fancier house, I could see myself having one of the elaborate shawls framed in such a way it could go on a wall....

In a loop

No, I guess I haven't fully recovered.

I'm feeling unhappy again this morning.

Part of it is, because of time constraints, I had to let something slide a bit in terms of the effort I normally go to (writing an exam) and I know it's not as good as it COULD be but I have other things I need to attend to (this manuscript, for one).

Part of it is, someone I know apparently had a really GOOD weekend, they are going around talking about how much fun they had AND how the research project will probably make them famous, and I feel very much like Big Mac before he made the decision to dress up as Cousin Orchard Blossom before the Sisterhooves Social: the feeling that I don't matter that much, that all I really do is work hard and in obscurity and no one really cares.



Part of it is thinking about the 'thank you' we received. I know they were pressed for time and didn't know who-all was doing what, but in the packets we got? There was a pre-printed certificate of participation where we were supposed to fill in our names. And that does nothing for me....because all these things are worth nothing other than the emotional boost they might give. (They are useless for things like post-tenure review packets, because anyone could grab one and fill their name in on it).

And yeah, I know: looking for outward validation of your existence is a sure way to be disappointed, but this is one of the ways in which I am broken. Too many years as a high-achieving student that the other kids didn't like*, so I looked to the teachers to "like" me, and the way I got that was by earning high grades and being tractable and being willing to take on extra work. And of course that doesn't mean that people will really like you, if you're willing to do thankless tasks: a large percentage of humanity will just exploit you.

(*And if I'm really being honest: a lot of the time I didn't like myself all that much. Maybe I still don't.)

And then I get annoyed at myself because really, doing good work is what you should care about. That everything I have ever been taught in church since I was a wee sprog was that you love others at least as much, if not more, than yourself, that the needs of the community outweigh your desire to shine or be paid attention to or whatever, and that human validation shouldn't matter anyway, because we're all both horribly imperfect and incredibly loved. It's just....that love seems so abstract sometimes, and one of the ways in which I am broken is that I really WOULD still like that gold star or that Hello Kitty sticker or even a hastily-drawn smily face on my work once in a while, so it feels like I'm not shouting into an abyss. At my best I can get past that but lately I've not been at my best.

But yeah. There is somewhere still in my psyche that 8 year old or 11 year old or whatever that is dancing up and down from foot to foot, going "notice me! like me!" and then feeling like she doesn't matter when the more popular or talented kid (because there were few kids LESS popular than I was, and it felt that there were too many who were more talented than I was) got noticed instead.

And the problem is, intellectually, I know that (a) I shouldn't feel this way and (b) I should just say 'no' to some stuff, and if people don't like that, fine, and if no one else steps up to do it, maybe it doesn't get done. But the pattern of me going into Golden Retriever mode to try to get people to like me is such an old and well-worn pattern that it's hard for me to break.

And yes, I know: why do you want people to like you so badly.

Ask my inner 9 year old, who is eating her lunch alone in a dark corner of the lunchroom. She can tell you. I suspect being rejected by peers as a kid leads to one of two things: Total Misanthropy, which I've never been able to manage, or sort of a desperate doglike need to convince people that you really are okay after all, because maybe if you convince other people that you're okay, you can convince yourself that you are.

(One of the saddest, and yet most-relatable-to-me Peanuts strips ever, was the one where Charlie Brown talks about how he lies in bed late at night, hoping for a voice crying, "We like you, Charlie Brown!")


You know? Lucy really was an awful person in a lot of ways. Yes, I know she was insecure, but still.

A lot of this is two non-weekends talking, and feeling a little bitter at all the people who don't have to work today and so are sleeping in or watching old movies while they eat a bowl of cereal sitting on the couch, or who are sitting in a cozy chair with a book.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Think I've recovered

Mostly a quiet day today. It was church first, of course - the new minister was officially installed which is a good thing.

Then I came home and did a workout (the dvd, which is about 35 minutes of semi-vigorous aerobics). As part of my reducing plan, I'm trying to be stricter about five days a week of working out - the video twice a week and 40-45 minutes on the cross-country skiier three days a week. (or flipflopping those two).

I was remembering the "recommended" exercise amount as being 30 minutes EVERY day, or 210 minutes, and was wharrrgarrrblling about how hard that was, but I looked it up: they (Mayo clinic and American Heart Association, whom I am inclined to trust) say 150 minutes of moderate or 75 of vigorous per week. Well, what I do is probably somewhere between moderate (it's harder work than a leisurely walk) and vigorous (I don't think it's quite vigorous). But if I 40 minutes 3 x a week and 35 2 x a week, I'm at 190 minutes, so I should be good.

I do tend to worry about this excessively but I think some of the health challenges my dad faces are the result of a long sedentary period from when he became a low-level college admin until now. Also, I'm at risk for osteoporosis (mom's family) and I know weight bearing exercise can fight that.

And I just feel better - both physically and emotionally - when I am getting regular exercise, so.

I also practiced piano some. I want to try to get back to doing that more regularly now that apparently the freak-out mode of having several tight deadlines is over.

And I knitted on Raven. I am within 20 rounds of finishing the second sleeve - then it's just the finishing and knitting on a little collar. (I THINK I will have enough yarn. I hope.)

I'm beginning to think about "next projects" so I think I'm feeling less pressured again. My desire to knit or sew waxes and wanes with how stressed I am at work.  I do want to get back to working on the quilt in the frame again, and sewing on quilt tops again.

Another thing I want to do, sort of loosely related, is move my birdfeeders to the back yard, where I can see them when I'm sewing. I got a cardinal-shaped (!) mesh feeder (one you fill up with sunflower seeds) for Christmas and I hung it in the redbud back there for two reasons:

a. it could present an attractive target for a petty thief and it is far, far less likely someone's going to see it back there or violate my backyard.

b. I think the reason I got mice this past winter was having the feeders so close to the front of the house. I figure if I move the post with its feeders over back by the garage, I can still see it from my bedroom windows and sewing room windows, but mice will be far less likely to come in the house seeking the source of that sweet, sweet seed. (I don't care quite so much if they go in the garage, though I would still they rather not....maybe I put the feeders over by my garden instead.

I walked around back there a bit today looking at stuff. One of my big rosemary bushes is totally dead (either the cold weather earlier finally did it in, or these things just have a limited lifespan). I'm thinking when I dig it out (perhaps a project for Spring Break), I want to replace it with a butterfly bush because there's one out behind my ecology lab and it's amazing how many butterflies they attract....and I love seeing butterflies around.

Also, on Saturday, I had packages waiting for me (Yeah, I don't get it either: cards go missing but so far packages seem totally unmolested - knock on wood). One was the yarn I ordered, but the other was the swap package from my sender in the CPAAG swap. (My recipient got her package a couple days ago and happily she liked it, even if I could only really dig in my stash for the yarn to send her, given how busy I am.)

Here it is:

swap box

The bag says "Knitters need to believe in something. I believe I'll knit another row." The yarn - well, I have a better picture of the yarn:

yarn and pony

It's one of those gradient sets where the yarn is dyed in different coordinating shades. I plan to use it for a shawl - either another iteration of a bigger version of Mizzle or I will look for another pattern. (There are patterns out there specifically designed for these sets).

Oh, and the pony - she sent me a blindbag pony and AMAZINGLY - given how many I have of Cupcake Wave, it's one I didn't already own - Cinnamon Breeze (a wingless Twilight Sparkle repaint). So that was extra nice, to get a pony I didn't have.

(I wish we had one of the newer waves available locally, though I do think most of them are mostly just repeats or recolors. It seems Hasbro is now going more to carded versions of the ponies, where you know what you're getting. I'm fine with that but I also suspect it will be next to impossible to find the desirable ones. I know I paid way more than I should for the Maud Pie, but I really wanted her).

I also had a couple of more-involved dishes for dinner. One was the potato soup I made the other day. It's based on the Golden Potato Soup in that Mennonite cookbook I like, but I altered the recipe slightly: I used onion powder instead of frying up an onion, and I subbed chicken broth for the milk and thinned down canned milk for the water

So:

I took the "gelee" (which is fantastic and tasty and you should never throw away when you roast a chicken) from the chicken I had roasted earlier in the week and melted it down, and then added chicken bone-stock to make 2 1/2 cups total. I also added a bit of pepper and maybe a quarter-to-half teaspoon of onion powder, even though the gelee already was flavored from the lemon and onion I stuffed in the chicken's cavity, and the poultry seasoning I used on it.

While this was heating, in another pan, I made up one packet of the plain (unsalted, unflavored) mashed potato mix. This would be better with real mashed potatoes - the recipe was designed to use up leftover mashed potatoes - but I was pressed for time.

Then I mixed the potatoes and the broth, stirred, heated it until it boiled. Then, to finish it, I thinned down a small can of evaporated milk (to make a full cup) and added that, and also melted about a half-cup of colby-jack cheese in it.

It was very good. It's one of my favorite soups and I've also made it with leftover baked potatoes just mashed up.

I also made coconut custard because I was *dying* for something sweet (I picked the wrong week to cut back on sugar) and I figured that was one of the most nutritious (in terms of ratio of protein to sugar) sweets I could make - an 11 ounce container of "culinary" coconut milk, two beaten eggs, a scant quarter-cup of sugar, some vanilla and coconut flavoring. Cooked for just shy of an hour at 350 in three of my mini-cocottes in a bain marie.

So yeah, I guess I'm as ready for Monday as I can be.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Well THAT'S over

Good heavens, what a stressful Saturday. Too much human interaction, no time for downtime, too much doing stuff where I didn't really know what I was doing.

Honors' day was okay; I had done that before so I kind of knew what went on there, but it did mean interviewing eight different scared high schoolers and trying to determine which of them would be more deserving of a scholarship.

There were donuts and coffeecake but I didn't take any.

Then, I ran home at noon and grabbed some lunch.

Then I went back for the olympiad. I didn't know what I was doing, I had to go to a totally different building for my packet, there was no USB port on the computer in the first room I was in so it was fortunate I had e-mailed the identification portion (from photos) of the test to myself.

The first round was fine; it was high schoolers who really aren't that different from the people I teach normally. I also got some grading done while they worked on the test.

Then I graded the test. Found an error I made in it and had to compensate for that.

Got a few minutes to relax (was offered pizza or a donut; didn't take either) while I was waiting for the second test.

The second test was junior high students. I forgot how crazy and squirrely and LOUD junior high kids can be. One team (these are teams of two who are supposed to work together) started arguing and pushing each other, and I looked sharply at them and said, "Don't make me ask you to leave the test." But it was all fine; these are basically good kids so they settled down and they even apologized to me as they left after the test. I said it was okay, that it had been a long day for everyone. (And yeah, I was close to freaking out over the noise level myself).

I had to grade those in a super hurry because it was the last test of the day and the scores were needed for finding out the awards. And I had to sit at the table next to the pizza and smell that the whole time I was grading. I commented to the people in the room that I picked the wrong week to go low-carbohydrate. (Still, I didn't take any pizza or a donut. I need to figure out something for dinner now but I'm so tired I kind of want to cry, and I don't feel like cooking anything.)

I'm tired and I'm actually surprised I can form complete sentences because I got to the point where I couldn't even trust myself to total up the points at the very end. I'm BEAT.

Also, I'll just note in passing, that the women on campus (and women in the school districts) seemed to be disproportionately represented today. I know at honors day both of my full-time female colleagues were there and I didn't see any of the men.

I know what I did was valuable and important and all that jazz but I'm tired and feeling slightly resentful at having given up and entire "recuperation" day to do stuff that just made me tireder. I hope someone else volunteers for this next year.

****

Edited to add Sunday morning:

I talked to my parents last night. They were telling me about how my brother and sister-in-law and niece were going to Hilton Head - my sister-in-law has a conference, her room is paid for, but it's possible for them all to go for a cheap price. And they were telling me about the stuff they were doing on the way and I was SO JEALOUS.

Why do I work all the time? Why is my life so small? Why do I have so little fun? Am I just the Designated Responsible and maybe my "fun" comes in the next life (if there's reincarnation, though I'm really not sure I'd take the option if it were offered me) or the next world?

Also, my mom's missing valentine's card - the one I sent her - showed up. It had been opened and then taped shut (she asked me if I had taped it). Also, the postmark was on Feb. 14, about five days after I actually posted the cards. VERY SUSPICIOUS. So apparently there's a thief somewhere in the mail system who takes cards out and looks for money or giftcards in them.

My valentine from them never showed up and as she sent it a week or more before Valentine's day, I suspect it will NEVER come. This makes me so sad, it feels so ridiculous and unnecessary.

So maybe I won't get any birthday cards this year, because of a crappy mail thief.

I know this upsets me way more than it should but there are so few little daily joys I have and being able to trust that I can get personal mail without someone ripping it off was one of them. (And God only knows if someone sent me a present and someone ripped it off....though again, it seems that boxes make it to me okay, maybe it's harder for someone to steal a box out of the mail stream and have it not be obvious)

I'm just tired and sad right now and I really don't want to leave the house today but I have stuff I have to do at church so I will, but. I want to go to petting zoos and "look for gems in a bucket of rocks" places and museums and all the fun stuff my relatives get to do and I don't because (a) there's nothing like that near me and (b) I'm always so busy all the time doing stuff so I don't worry about losing my job and....I don't know. I'm just overtired and upset about things because I am.

a little request

So I just found out someone tried to comment, but Blogger wouldn't accept her e-mail.

I don't know if this is a Google+ thing or what. I have resisted moving to Google Plus because it seems like a "We don't even want you to be pseudonymous" thing - and I like having at least a tiny veil between the blog and my in-person life, so.

But anyway: you SHOULD still be able to comment as "anonymous" without leaving an e-mail address (I hope). I think that would work for people not logged in to Google. I still moderate comments so it may be a little while before yours shows up, but you should know if Blogger accepted it.

Would someone try commenting here?

I've gotten a bunch of anonymous comments in recent days but they were obviously spam bots because they were word-salad combined with a few dodgy links. I can tell an "anonymous" comment from an actual reader (especially if you leave your name in the body of the comment) from a spambot.

but it is slightly depressing to open up my e-mail, see several comments, and find out they're all spam.

I know Blogger is kind of a butt about leaving comments, but that's how it is. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

And this afternoon

So, what have I done today?

1. Put my manuscript into the requested format, added in a last few bits of support for my conclusions (from other papers), sent it off to my co-author for him to read and comment on

2. Digested down six year's worth of data (well, six sampling periods, but still) into a format my grad advisor can analyze using an ordination-analysis program he has that I no longer own. (He's retired and seems to be looking for things to do, and he offered, so).

3. Taught my class

4. Entered the grades for the labs I graded last night

5. Made sure I had my poop in a group (list of rooms I need to be at, times, getting the tests, making sure the room I'm working in has a projector) for tomorrow

6. Ate lunch. Mostly plants. Not too much. (Potato soup, serving of mashed sweet potatoes, serving of red cabbage, a few leftover strawberries, cup of UNSWEETENED UNMILKED tea, one (1) "soft amaretto" cookie)

I'm gonna go home now and do a workout but I think tonight I'm going to also take a hot bath because I ache slightly from hunching over my computer all day.

The really sad thing in this? If I weren't an adult I'd get a gold star (at the very least) for being so "good" today, but because I am an adult, I only get a virtual gold star in my own mind.

I don't miss much about being a child but I do miss getting papers back that you had done well on and getting a Hello Kitty sticker or a puppy sticker or a shooting-star sticker or something on them. Adult achievements have a distinct lack of stickers. (And no, it's not the same if I buy my own stickers. I have a pad of My Little Pony stickers here in my office somewhere - I took it in to put an Applejack sticker on the paper of my student who is doing research on behavior in miniature horses because she titled it "My Little Ponies.")

Actually, I was griping about "the gamification of everything" but really, the stickers I got on my papers as a child (and in my piano workbook, back when I was doing piano lessons for a short while as a young teen) were kind of like that, and you know? I do miss it. But internet badges aren't the same as a REAL sticker.

Oh well. Maybe my order of yarn came and will be waiting for me when I get home.

A few gripes

And yes, I know these are very "first world problems" but I'm feeling a little battered by life right now so little things feel bigger than they are:

* A group of teachers that were to come to the Olympiad and run sections have had some kind of emergency (I suspect it may be a funding/staffing/"no we won't pay your gas"* emergency)

(*And yes, if it were a "we won't pay for your travel" and it was me, I'd still go. But then again: I make a good bit more than public school teachers so I could afford it, and my sense of duty is great enough that I will do things like that - put myself out to help others.)

Anyway. Now what's going to happen? My hope at this point is either (a) enough replacements can be found or (b) they cancel the events those people were to do** because the thought of me maybe taking on something else makes me want to weep.

(**And yes, I know: it will disappoint the students. Well, life is tough and full of disappointment and you might as well get used to it early.)

The other thing that is worrying is the comment "All the volunteers except for me cannot make it" All the volunteers from your single school? From your district? From your region? ALL of the non-university volunteers? More information is needed.

(O dear God if they move this to next weekend I really WILL weep because of pushing to get this done and then forfeiting my birthday trip after that was what kept me going these past 2 weeks - and no, I don't think I could say, "No, I have other plans" And I can't go this weekend because I'm already committed with something ELSE that morning)

If it does get moved? I don't know. I will just go home and cry quietly and tell myself that I am "floating" my birthday until March 4 but dangit.

* I started following a few "pretty pictures" accounts on Twitter to try to counteract a lot of the political stuff that's being discussed on there. And then guess what: yesterday afternoon an account or two of them suddenly decided that it was time to get political.

Argh.

I'm not saying I disagree with people criticizing the government (current or in general) but I would like some spaces that are just free of that. I put the accounts on "mute" because (a) I might want to go back to them later on if things ever settle down and (b) if they watch follower counts I don't want them to assume "ha ha, ticked off a Trump supporter" or something. Because that assumption would not be true.

I think about a lot of this, and I think about something the survivalist types talk about, the whole "head on a swivel" idea - that every public place now is Potentially Dangerous, so you need to be in a state of heightened awareness and that just exhausts me and makes me want to be a hermit. I mean, I have halfway-decent situational awareness just because I'm observant and my history of being teased and made the butt of jokes makes me super sensitive to "hey, this thing isn't quite right in my environment" but the idea of thinking of five escape routes for every part of the wal-mart I might happen to be in just makes me exhausted, and makes me almost want to say, "Okay, if a crazed shooter wants to take me out while I'm buying frozen cauliflower, then it was my time to go, and hopefully I'll have that last chance to ask forgiveness for my sins before I die..."

And I think the being hyper-aware of political stuff is similar.

* The Valentine's Day card I sent my mom has gone missing, and the one my parents sent me has gone missing. (The one I sent my dad arrived the day before Valentine's day). So I guess there still is a mail thief floating around and picking from the stream that goes between here and Central Illinois. And that makes me sad and angry.

(And if you ever send me a card and I don't acknowledge it, it's entirely possible I didn't receive it)

I like greeting cards. I like sending them and I like getting them. It's just nice to get mail that isn't a bill or a piece of junk mail or a solicitation from a charity. And it really does feel like one of the nice things of life has been taken from me when you can't even send a greeting card any more without it being stolen. And yes, I know: you could send postcards or electronic cards instead but THEY ARE NOT THE SAME.

And my birthday is coming up, and I am gloomily wondering if any cards that anyone sends out will actually reach me. And of course my Inner Eeyore will have no way of knowing whether (a) the card was stolen or (b) no one bothered to send me a card in the first place and does it really matter, anyway? because I am still cardless.

* I don't get a weekend this weekend, other than a few hours Sunday afternoon. And some people get Saturday, Sunday, AND Monday off (president's day). (And note to self: no trash pick-up Monday, the can goes out Wednesday). It's kind of hard not to feel slightly resentful even as I know I get a good long time off at Christmas. (And no mail Monday either - so drop that bill you have to pay off at the post office* tomorrow early)

(*Yeah, in case some a-hole is stealing from my mailbox and that's why my mom's card went missing, though I sent hers and my dad's on the same day and in the same way).

* A lot of this is just frustration: I work so hard, it feels like, and I have so little to show for it. If I were digging ditches, I could look back at the ditch I had dug, and gone, "It's a good ditch. It will carry away rainwater and keep it from flooding someone's house" but I have to so much take on faith that ANYTHING I am doing has ANY kind of positive impact, and it just....when I'm tired like this, and am running on a string of more-or-less 14 hour work days, I just want to put my head down and cry a little. I'll be better once the manuscript is in and if it actually even gets accepted (yes, I know I was asked to do it, but I don't trust it will be good enough even if it's my graduate advisor who knows my work well).

I also feel like I'm shortchanging my teaching to prep for this Science Olympiad and stuff and I don't like feeling that way.

* I've tried making some fairly draconian changes to my diet, both to try to flush any bad stuff out of my blood (heh) before my bloodwork next month, but more generally to lose some of the weight I have gained. (Long story short: I was at my lowest adult weight back in July, at my last appointment. This was probably because I was just coming off 4+ months of having something not unlike IBS where I was eating a lot less because my stomach would get upset and I wouldn't want to eat. Then when I got better, I went back to eating normally, and I guess I got sloppy, and also, I started snacking a lot more - eating out of boredom or out of emotion instead of hunger). One big thing I am doing is cutting back on sugar and trying the "no more than 45 grams of carbohydrates per meal" which is supposedly what a woman with uncomplicated type II diabetes are supposed to eat. (My sister in law had gestational diabetes towards the end of her pregnancy and had to go even lower than that). No, I don't have any reason to suspect I have it other than a weak family history* and the fact that it is in the news EVERYWHERE and apparently EVERY AMERICAN is either diabetic or pre-diabetic.

(*A great-grandfather had it back before it could really be treated very much; my father has been diagnosed as pre-diabetic but he got his A1C back under control with diet and medication)

So anyway. I cheat a bit at breakfast (bowl of oatmeal with a generous handful of dark chocolate chips, and made with milk - I could probably get it down below 45 by replacing the milk with water but ugh). I did need a snack yesterday afternoon so I heated up one of the little low-sodium frozen chicken sausages I keep on hand and had a slice of pumpernickel bread with it. (Pumpernickel and rye are lower in carbohydrates, but frustratingly, higher in sodium, than normal bread: I can't win). Have cut way back on desserts. Am considering boiling up a bunch of eggs to keep on hand for snacks and lunch-supplements (if I don't take a cookie or something with my lunch, I need some other small high-protein thing because otherwise I will get hungry by 3 pm and will wind up snacking). As I said, my cholesterol levels have always been well within the healthful range so I think the extra eggs (and some extra cheese) should not hurt me; apparently I have a genetic predisposition to handle dietary cholesterol okay.

But it is kind of a drag, and there's the whole "measuring out your life with coffee spoons" aspect to it that makes my mind rebel. On the other hand: I have more or less felt PHYSICALLY better these past couple days. And I've gone back to eating more cauliflower and stuff.

I have said my birthday day I will choose not to worry, and if that means getting a cupcake out somewhere so be it. I think unless you are genuinely allergic/insensitive (e.g. someone with celiac can never take a day off of gluten-free) it's probably not so terrible to have a slack day once in a while, but the trick is not to let them be often.

And I still work out. I'm holding out a hope that 40 or so minutes on the equivalent of a treadmill 3 days a week, and two days of doing that goofy dvd aerobics thing, will help protect me from some of the bad stuff that can happen.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

little funny thing

Still too busy, but at least the stuff for the Science Olympiad is now done.

But something quick, and something that made me laugh when it came across the Twitters:





Caption: "This was my cat's face when I found her hoarding stash."

Yes. That face. It's so funny. And I think all cats do that - the cats my parents had did this kind of thing with their toys as well.

Even though my allergies prevent it (and I'm never home), I admit there are things I miss about having a cat around, and the funny things they do is a big part of that.


****

Also, I cracked my bio class up today. There was a huge fly (so big we were wondering at first if it was a bee) buzzing around the room. Finally, it flew out the door, so I closed the door and said it couldn't get back in.

Well, a minute after that, a late (VERY late, but apparently she had car trouble) student came. And she knocked on the door. I commented, as I went over to open it, "I hope that's not the fly again."

A couple of the women in my class started laughing and had a hard time stopping. I didn't think it was THAT funny but maybe because I generally come across as sort of serious, it struck them funny, I don't know.

I got nothing

I will be really glad when Honors' Day/Science Olympiad is over.

I will be even gladder when this manuscript is done and submitted even though I know there will be revisions later on.

I dragged home a few supplemental articles to mine for background/supporting my conclusions information, wound up working too late, went to bed, couldn't go to sleep. (That often happens. Even when I feel like "You got a lot done today," it's like I can't shut my brain off).

I did manage to write up one page on my scholarly productivity and send it in to the place I had to for this award I've been nominated for. I was thinking, driving home: well, I probably won't win it, but I'll have to go to the long "faculty appreciation" banquet anyway, because if by some fluke I did, it would be embarrassing not to be there. Then I remembered: wait, last year, during the retrenchment, they did away with those and just had a thing one afternoon on the front lawn. Dare I hope that's what it is this year (and if it's a day I'm in lab, there's a reason for me to be absent).

Piano practice is suffering in this - I didn't do any yesterday. (It's not a BIG deal as lessons are on hiatus at least until the time change, but I like to keep up with it). I did manage to do 20 minutes this morning, and hopefully can motivate myself to do more this afternoon.

I am beginning to wonder if maybe I do need to force myself back into the early wake-up/ early work-out schedule, tetchy stomach be darned, because it's haaaaaaaard to come home at the end of the workday and then need to work out and then need to do the grading or whatever-the-butt it is I've dragged home with myself. I'm doing it, because I know I need to work out to stay healthy, but it's haaaaaaaard.

Knitting is also suffering, and that makes me sad. But right now, I'm just telling myself, this is "survival mode" where I get done what HAS to be done and I can worry about the things I want to do at some time in the future. Not a fun way to live but that's how it is right now. Next weekend (the 25th) I can have some free time; the week following that is the "assessment testing" day which means I get a full day off (unless they come up with some kind of bananas "seminar" they want us to go to; that's happened in the past) and I don't have Thursday lab, so I get a little bit of time freed up. Hopefully by then the manuscript will be done so I can maybe relax a little and maybe even take at least part of that Wednesday off.

But yeah. Getting really tired of juggling 18 things instead of my usual 12.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

My epic typo

Which, luckily, I found.

And I admit, I am greatly cheered to realize I am drawing close to the finish of at least an acceptable (if not great) draft of this paper, which I can then send off and be done with for a little while.

But anyway. I was referencing a system for coding "vegetation associations" in my state: that is, the code indicates a description and list of what species are the most abundant ones in that type of habitat. The one my site is closest to (in degraded form, however) is one that is coded as V. A. 5. N. a.

Which I had initially blithely typed as V.A.G.N.a.

um. Whoops. I'm REALLY glad I caught that because if you "buy another vowel," it spells part of the female reproductive system.

(Hm. Maybe a V.A.G.N.a. could be code for some type of fembot? I'm offering that up for free to anyone who might write SF.)

(And yeah, I know, at least one person is going: "But she's so talented, she doesn't need to work 'blue'" but I couldn't resist sharing this epic typo-that-almost-was. The really bad thing, if I hadn't caught it? It's my old graduate advisor who will be editing this thing)

Days are busy

Not a whole lot to talk about. Certainly not much knitting.

Yesterday I had my checkup with my doctor at her new place. I do have to get bloodwork done, and they want to do a thyroid panel too - nothing seems wrong but she felt it was time to check it. So I have that scheduled for next month during spring break.

So I have a month to make my diet nice and clean, I guess. (It doesn't help that because Valentine's Day, everyone is talking about hearth health and portion control and I guess the new thing is for news programs to try to ruin holidays by making them all about making us feel guilt for being alive? Or at least for getting hungry some times?)

I'm strangely achy this morning. Change in the weather? Sitting in too cold of an office yesterday hunched over my desk? Taking one day off exercise because it was after 5 pm when I got home and I had worked out the previous two days?

And yeah - I went back after the checkup yesterday afternoon, even though I really wanted to just go home, and worked on the science olympiad stuff. It's mostly done, except for picking out some photographs of species for the identification part. I confess to having felt a bit of resentment about this yesterday afternoon - this is all 100% additional work, meaning we have to make time for our OTHER work at other times....I'm not getting that manuscript done and am starting to worry. (And I have an exam for my own classes to write for next week. And Saturday I will have zero time for that).  And yeah, I know everyone does this kind of thing some times, but....I don't know. Part of it is the person who is running this is someone who is doing way too many jobs so information comes out slow and late, and as a control freak, this makes me twitch, because I feel like "How can I do a good job on this if I don't have enough information" and I found myself thinking one day "I don't want to pull an all-nighter one night before this just because I wasn't able to get stuff done any in advance...." I still feel like I don't have enough information for what I'm doing, but I suppose that means if I do a "bad' job (according to the people who really have power in this), I don't get asked to do it next year.

I'm telling myself that I can have the 25th to do what I want, but that still seems awfully far off, and who knows? Maybe something ELSE comes up that's urgent, and I push doing anything for my birthday off for another week or more.

I wonder - am I just less tough than everyone who came before me? I regularly feel like I'm flailing and one step away from totally failing, but I think of my dad when he was in the workforce and how he always seemed so on top of things. (Granted, he had my mom to do the grocery shopping and cooking and laundry and all - she mostly did not work outside the home when my brother and I were growing up). Has my generation just come out a lot weaker and more prone to complain? I think of things like the people who worked 18 hour days in the defense factories during World War II, and how you see so few written records of them complaining or worrying or anything...I wish I were better at just gritting my teeth, sucking it up, and trying not to worry about how I am going to manage getting everything done.

***

It's cold in my office - it was just around 60 degrees when I came in and is barely warmer now. I'm wearing my coat (the mid-weight dressy raincoat) over my long-sleeved knit dress and sweater. And I have a hat on. For a while I had fingerless gloves but then it warmed up a little and it was also hard to type with them on.

I also have a tickle in my throat which I really REALLY really hope is just allergies and not the terrible cold that is making the rounds here (I have known a number of people who had it, and they either wound up flat on their backs for a couple days, or, in the cases of people who were older/had underlying health issues, they wound up having to take steroids to clear their chests). I can't afford to be sick. (Though then again: spending several days lying on the sofa watching old movies and knitting or napping does sound like it might have its charms).

I felt sufficiently sorry for myself this morning that I broke my "yarn fast" - part of it was I found I had about a $10 credit at Loopy Ewe (you earn points that get converted to credits....when you hit 250 points you get $25 but if you have points lying around at the end of the year they just pro-rate them). So I bought a skein of Mrs. Crosby in  a peacock color, and a skein of a newer line they carry, called Fresh From The Cauldron, in a colorway called Groot. "Groot" is tans and greens in case you didn't guess otherwise, and yes I bought it because of the name. I may make a cowl out of it instead of socks; I still have some feeling of the sympathetic magic of wearing things made out of "good named" colorways, and maybe Groot will be protective in some way.

I still have plans to go to Quixotic Fibers for my birthday and just allow myself to buy whatever catches my fancy (whether or not I have plans for it) but this will tide me over a bit and will serve as a preventative salve to my feelings if something happens and I CAN'T go. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hearts and flowers

Yeah, it's that day again.

I dunno. I was doing okay with the whole "I love my friends, I love my relatives, I try to love all of humanity" thing, but working too hard over the weekend kind of broke me and also some stuff on the local news kind of made me long for fifth grade and getting silly little punny cards from the kids in the class. (And the tradition was, if you gave to one person you gave to all, so there was no kind of "I have birthday party invitations for every girl in the class EXCEPT YOU" which yes, happened to me once). And for getting the afternoon off from class and getting a cupcake and a cup of red Hi-C punch.

I really think Valentine's Day is best if you're a little kid, or part of a really long-term couple that understands each other and have figured out what to do (which in some cases is nothing, I know lots of people who are disinterested in this day). I wish there were something that was more of a deal for those of us who are alone because it is kind of a long holiday-less slog from New Year's* to Easter**

(*Yes, I know: Martin Luther King, Jr. day, but that's more just a civic holiday and it's more centered around doing volunteer work)
(**And yes, I know: St. Patrick's Day, but that's never that big of a day for me because I don't drink beer)

But at least I have hobbies I love, I guess.

hearts and flowers ponies

Three of my My Little Ponies in a valentiney color scheme - Parasol, Posey, and Heartthrob. Heartthrob has little winged hearts as her cutie mark but they're badly faded so they don't show up well.

And I have been knitting a little:

everyday sock

This is the beginning of yet another pair of Hermione's Everyday Socks in  an Ancient Arts sockyarn in a colorway called "Mineral." I can't remember now if this was a Loopy Ewe purchase or if I got it from Quixotic Fibers.

And I did buy myself a little valentine's day gift.

TTGAP

Yeah. It's the 4DE plush version of Trixie (aka Trixie Lulamoon, aka Trixie The Great and Powerful). I have a pattern to crochet one, but I never got it started, and this one was awfully nice (and available from Amazon).

I think the 4DEs are even nicer than the Auroras - more expensive, but the minky is nicer and softer, and they are more detailed.

And yeah, I know I once said that I thought of Trixie as the classic "mean girl" and therefore uninteresting but in the past couple seasons she's been transformed a bit, and one also gets the sense that maybe she's somewhat insecure, and that's why she acts out, and one feels  a bit sorry for her.

And yeah, I think that's the fundamental GOODNESS of Ponies: that some of the low-level "villain" characters are redeemed through the power of friendship/love: Gilda, and Starlight Glimmer, and Nightmare Moon (getting changed back to Luna), and Trixie, and I would even grant Discord, though I don't fully trust him still not to backslide.

And yeah. Starlight Glimmer. Who is apparently now Trixie's best friend:

Trixie and GlimGlam

That also allows a comparison of 4DE and Aurora (and GlimGlam is one of the ones with the dolly-hair, which is hard to keep neat). The other weird thing about the Aurora Starlight Glimmer is that her eyes are purple (like Twilight's eyes) but in the show they are blue. Either that was a mistake on Aurora's part or maybe the animators changed the color from an earlier model, I don't know.

Also, obligatory webcam shot to give a better idea of Trixie's size. (The hat and cape both take on and off, they aren't just sewn on).

And I see, checking my archives, buying myself a pony for valentine's day isn't totally without precedent.

Monday, February 13, 2017

and, well, shoot

I dunno why - too much work this weekend, maybe - but suddenly my wounded inner child is at the fore, and everything is making me alternately sad and cranky. (And no, it can't be pms, not unless I'm now on the every-two-weeks schedule or some darn thing).

Part of it was an e-mail from campus wellness. I try to have these sent to a spam folder but they still sometimes come through. This one was on "heart health." So let's see.

Helpful suggestions:

"Hug a friend. Cuddle your children. Eat dinner with your family. Hold hands with your boyfriend. Write a love letter to your wife."

Greeeeeeeeeeaaaaaattt.

I have friends locally, but most of them are not the hugging type, and anyway, I have positioned myself in the past of being a non-hugger, and so it would feel weird to me to go up to someone I know and tell them I needed a hug, even if I did. The rest of those? I might get to eat dinner with my parents in May, but the others aren't gonna happen.

This kind of thing frustrates me because of the assumption there: that everyone is coupled and has this extensive support network near them. Some of us don't. I dunno, maybe I'm the only one who doesn't.

But the other thing: this is our health insurer. So it feels like they're proposing these things as a band-aid solution instead of, I don't know, pressing the workplace to address the causes of stress in our lives and stuff. (This is one of my issues with some of the stress-relief programs: they want people to add things in to their lives - like making time for more exercise - while doing nothing to relieve the burden of everything we must do already. And for me, juggling everything is a major source of my stress).

It also just makes me sad for being-on-the-outside-looking-in reasons. I know I'm weird because I failed to marry and procreate, could I please not be reminded of that? (Can I please have a one-way ticket to the Island of Misfit Toys?)

I dunno. I just get frustrated at all the unwanted health advice we seem to get pushed at us. There's also a series of PSAs now about pre-diabetes, and there's apparently a website you can go to if you are wondering "Am I pre-diabetic?" (I suspect it's just a page with a big red YES written on it, and GO TO YOUR DOCTOR and DON'T EAT ANYTHING BUT VEGETABLES on there)

That said, the e-mail I posted about earlier - if you interpret it as talking about ONE person, and it has both the advice "hold hands with your boyfriend" and "write a love letter to your wife," that suggests a far higher level of relationship diversity than many on my campus would recognize. Heh.

I'm sure some of this is brought on by spending about 10 hours at work on Saturday, then being too tired to do anything "fun" (I didn't even practice piano on Saturday) and Sunday I didn't do anything "fun" either. And I'm kind of dreading the work I have facing me NEXT Saturday.

***

Edited to add: No, I'm not quite done. I'm thinking about a couple more things.

Someone on ITFF made the comment (in response to something I said): "It is flipping exhausting to always be the only one who takes care of you."

YES. That so much. That is so true. And it's so hard to make other people see it sometimes. There have been times I literally had to sit down and cry for a few minutes because the idea of managing to Tetris my work-work, my laundry, my making-time-to-work-out, my volunteer work, and getting to the store at a time when it wasn't crazy-busy and would take an hour seemed impossible.

And that's also why I go home periodically to visit my parents (and the selfish reason why I felt so sad when my mom got hurt over Christmas and couldn't do anything): it's a rare instance of someone else taking care of me. I know some folks who eat nearly every meal at a restaurant to avoid the cooking and dishes, but I can't do that - sodium, and also we have precious few restaurants to eat at, and I'd get tired of what was here fast. And I know someone who sends (or at least, sent, I don't know if he still does) all his laundry out to a cleaner so he didn't have to mess with it.

And that's also why I felt such despair when someone once suggested I take on a thankless volunteer task they didn't want to do, where they cited "But you don't have a husband and kids to take care of." Yes, but that also means I have NO ONE to help out at home, and no one to make me feel like going home is even worth it.....

And then this, which came across Twitter:

  I like that A LOT, and I think we're suffering from a shortage of that in our culture right now - either people don't think about the person "using the plate next," or they figure "they can look out for themselves, I don't feel like doing it."

(In case you can't read the image, it says: "Wash the plate not because it is dirty or because you are told to wash it, but because you love the person who will use it next. St. Teresa of Calcutta"

And wait....is that St. Teresa as in Mother Teresa? I guess it is. Well, that makes sense then.)

But yes. I'd consider printing that out and hanging it up in my teaching lab over the sink, but I suspect some people wouldn't get it fully - again, the idea of "love" has become so debased in our culture that for some it only means direct family members or someone they're trying to get in the pants of (sorry), and not the sort of "this is your neighbor who shares the earth with you" love.

I've washed far too many pieces of glassware that people left behind dirty because they felt too busy or too important or they thought no one would notice. But the glassware still has to be washed by someone, and there is no one I can pay to do it....so I do it myself.

Monday morning things

* We really, really need rain. We're supposed to get it tomorrow.

NO ONE is allowed to complain if it rains on Valentine's Day.

* One of my friends at church, her husband is a volunteer firefighter for the area north of us - she says he has been called out every night this past week for grassfires. We always have a  late-winter fire season but this year is unusually bad because it's been so dry.  Some of the fires are people doing stupid stuff - burning brush, throwing cigarette butts out of car windows. A few are just bad luck - sparks thrown when a trailer chain drags or sparks thrown from friction between the wheels on a freight train and the rails.

* A BBC story on Aggretsuko, their new angry red panda character - this article proposes a bit of psychological background (i.e., "Japanese women are expected to be cute and quiet") but I think the character definitely has wider appeal. While, when I am at my best, I can look at the foolishness of others and forgive it and keep going, I will say there are times when I can feel my anger rising - like when I'm working on something that I have too little time to work on, and someone stops by and wants to talk about either their most recent achievement ("humblebragging") or else wants to lay their problems on me.

They also refer in passing to another Sanrio charcter, Gutedama - the lazy egg who apparently suffers from depression. It's enough to make you want to ask, "Sanrio, you okay? You need to talk about something?" Or maybe in a broader sense, people in the world are getting more open about the less-idealized parts of their personalities.

Though sometimes I wonder if being able to get angry at people and express that anger might make my life a little easier (in that people would be less likely to ask me to do stuff).

* Okay, so it's going to be a lot colder today (in the 50s). It was in the low 80s Saturday. Everyone is sick. A school in north Texas had to close for a day or two because so many kids were out with the flu. Also, in my county, they are telling everyone who hasn't been vaccinated against the flu (and who can be), should go in and get the shot. The one good thing about all this is that apparently the flu going around is one of the forms in the vaccine from this year. Which means I'm protected as I got the vaccine back in October.

There's also a bad cold making the rounds and I hope I can manage to avoid that. Though it's easier to keep going with a cold than it is with the flu.

* One bit of good news, though, not unexpected but still good: the congregation unanimously voted to call the guy who has been filling our pulpit on a probationary basis, with the opportunity of renewal if things go well. I think it's probably 99.9% sure he's going to accept; the chairman of the congregation said he was like an excited kid when he heard from the chairman that the board voted to recommend he be called. So for the next six months, we know who will be leading us, and there's the chance that if things go well (especially if we see growth), he will stay on longer.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

record of yesterday

What I did yesterday. (A day for which, I will note, I am not officially paid to work: this is how it is for salaried people. I am paid something like 40.8 hours a week but if the work's not done....well, my pay-per-hour goes down accordingly. I once knew someone who taught at a community college* who sat down and figured out what his ACTUAL hourly pay would be based on the hours he worked one long week....and he was making just below minimum wage)

(*This is important because typically they pay less than comprehensive four-year schools do)

And yeah, I partly brought this on myself, with my fear of saying "no" to service and research stuff in a time of tight budgets.

So:

1. Finished typing the cruddy first draft of the paper, did a little editing on it.
2. Did a little additional data crunching, hunted around in SPSS to see if there was anything like ecological ordination in it (there isn't, so unless I can quickly find a free online or downloadable thing I can learn in a hurry, these data will not be ordinated)
3. Wrote the exams (junior high and high school) for the science olympiad next week, sent them out to my colleagues for critique
4. Made a batch of extract (cedar litter plus DI water) for the experiment
5. Wrote the exams for my soils class next week. (Well: wrote one exam, rearranged the questions for the "form b." And yeah, I do this: our rooms are small and I'd rather not deal with the "are they or aren't they" about roving eyes)
6. At home: cleaned the crud out of the shower head, cleaned the crud out of the teakettle
7. Did the necessary grocery shopping for the week
8. Stopped off at the car-wash place on the way home. Was going to go the expensive-but-easy route (paying the $8 or whatever for the luxury automatic wash where you sit in your car and get a little carnival ride of sorts while the car runs through it) but wound up doing the arduous-but-cheap route of feeding a couple bucks of quarters into the water-and-soap vending set up and washed the car myself - because there were a dozen people in line for the automatic wash and I didn't feel like waiting.

Today, after church, I have to bake a cake for tomorrow's CWF meeting. I'm going with a buttermilk pound cake (baked, inexplicably, in a tube pan) from one of my Farm Journal cookbooks.

Next Saturday is going to as busy, if not more, than this one. (Sigh).

Saturday, February 11, 2017

that was cool

Well, in addition to working on the Too Much Work I have, I did a couple house tasks today.

First up: bought a gallon of "cider"* vinegar at the mart of wall

(* no idea if it actually is; some so-called cider vinegar in the big jugs is flavored/colored distilled vinegar. I only use the big-jug stuff for cleaning, so it doesn't really matter - I buy smaller jars, and try to buy the kind "with mother" for cooking)

Dumped it ALL in a big plastic bowl, unscrewed my shower head, and submerged and weighted it. Because the thing was so caked up with limescale that it was barely spitting. (I have one of those "rainshower" shower heads. Or rather, a cheaper version of one....) Our water is really hard and so you get what I assume is calcium carbonate laid down on a regular basis in anything that holds the water. Left the shower head and went and worked on the manuscript.

Came home at lunch, took it out, rinsed, reinstalled. I may be in the market for a new shower head soon as not all the "nipples" on it work - and after 3+ hours in vinegar, they should be clear of lime scale. Argh.

But the cool thing? My teakettle was so scaly that it was slow to boil - it takes a long time and then all of a sudden, it does that "big bubbles really fast" thing. And I knew I had to clean it. But I was out of cleaning vinegar and didn't feel like using my expensive Bragg vinegar on it. Then I remembered the packet of citric acid I bought to try to clean my dishwasher with (it didn't do as much as I thought it would: the inside is still stained with tomato stuff).

Anyway. After boiling the water for my lunch tea, I pulled the kettle off the "eye**" and threw in a handful of the crystals.

Whoa. Either the hot water really sped up the reaction, citric acid works up into a lower pH than vinegar has, or citric acid REALLY "hates" limescale - it bubbled up like mad and almost instantly the lime scale was gone - no sitting and waiting for vinegar to do its job, I could just dump the hot citricky water down the drain, rinse, and the kettle was good. It was pretty satisfying.

(Yeah: citric acid has a pH of just above 2, vinegar is closer to 5. No wonder citric acid worked so fast; it's 1000 times as acid - pH being, of course, a logarithmic scale)

(**People around here call the burners of the electric stove "eyes," I suppose because of the shape)

Even though citric acid is more expensive than vinegar, I think I'm gonna keep some on hand from now on. Amazon sells it but I see Lehman's also has it in their catalog (for soapmaking: you can adjust the pH of the soap with it so it's not so hard on your skin - your skin is naturally closer to acid than it is to alkaline).

I may have to see what it does to the limescale in the toilet, which I've battled off and on for a long time....

Friday, February 10, 2017

smol round birb

My Doki Doki box came today. It was a surprise because they sent an e-mail saying that because they'd moved to Japan (apparently to avoid some customs hang-ups they had before importing stuff), the boxes would take longer and they gave a "March 8-16" delivery date. Maybe they were wrong and meant "February" but it showed up today.

It was a nice box. It had candy in it but this time it's candy I can eat (chocolates with a strawberry center - last month there were hard candies that were not labeled so I didn't know if they might contain something like pistachio or mango I can't have). It also had a little item or two I can include as a giftie in a swap box I'm doing through Ravelry - they are nice items but I don't totally, totally need them and they are relevant to my swap-partner's interests, so I think it's meant to be.

There were also Totoro chopsticks - really rather nice ones, the reusable kind (bamboo, and finished - not like the cheap ones you get from take out places). I may repurpose them as hairsticks instead, I don't know. And some fuzzy "My Melody" socks which I THINK will fit me (the size range given was 22 to 28 cm and supposedly, according to an online size check, my feet are 24 cm).

And the obligatory Hoppe Chan. (I am not a big fan of Hoppe Chan. I wish one of my friends had a small girl who was in love with her because then she would get alllllll my Hoppe Chan stuff).

And a cherry-themed hair clip, which I might just wear as long as it's not too heavy for my hair (I bought some really sweet rhinestone hair clips at Ulta but found when I wore one the other day to hold down my "Starlight Glimmer Swoop," I kept having to adjust it because it slid down - it's heavy and it doesn't clamp that tightly.) The cherry hair clip is very Penny Garcia in its aesthetic but I'm reaching the point of not caring if people think I dress a little oddly.

And the best item was the little plush toy. But then, I pretty much always think the best item in these boxes is the little plush toy.

Her name is Beri (short for Berry, I guess - her boyfriend, which some people got in their boxes instead is named Mango). She is small and round and a bird so she is my smol round birb and that amuses me a lot. (The pink thing on her head is a heart. She is supposed to be a lovebird).

Oh! And the last box (last month's) had a little Daruma-san of "Julie," their cat character:





She came with both her eyes so I guess you can't use her as a luck-bringer (the idea with the traditional ones is that they're sold without eyes, you paint one one him, and you "promise" him when your goal is achieved or your desire comes true, he gets his other eye. Yes, clearly a little bribe never hurts...)

This is the "original" Julie, for comparison. She's probably my favorite of the characters Doki Doki created for their boxes.

They're all kind of little (so they fit in a box that will more or less fit in a standard mailbox) but also being little means you don't have to try so hard to find space for them - most of these live on my sofa, which I don't use all that much to sit on these days)



The Doki Doki boxes are a LITTLE expensive (though no more than a fancy dinner out, especially if I were buying a bar drink) but they make me so happy - it's a little good surprise once a month and I need little good surprises. And some of the things in the boxes go on to be little gifts to people which is also fun. 

Friday morning things

* The more I think about the "firehose of kindness" idea, the better I like it. There's not a lot I can do sort of culturally, about everything that's going on, but I CAN sort of fold my arms and go, "Even if all y'alls are going to get down in the mud, I choose not to" and just continue to be kind and to do the right thing and be proper and all that. More of a passive-resistance sort of thing, which I am far better at than the active kind.

* I started reading another Louise Penny novel the other night - "The Brutal Telling." I'm not very far in but once again my feeling is confirmed that I *like* her writing and I find something worthy in her characters.

At one point, there is talk of Chief Inspector Gamache (the lead character and the main detective in the series) and the comment is made about the kindness in his eyes, and how he knew it was his strength and also his weakness. And yes, I think that is true....it is a strength but it is also a weakness. Perhaps almost any "good" character trait (in the sense of "good" being moral or altruistic) is: I know my diligence is a strength but also a weakness, and I know my tendency to sympathize with others also is.

I think I need a book like this right now, where the central character is fundamentally, quietly, *good,* and it's not that there are supernatural battles to be fought (I think maybe the sense of "The Light cannot fail!" in the Susan Cooper books is getting to me slightly; the idea that if things came out slightly differently, the world would be overrun with evil, and I can't quite deal with that). But someone who does his best against "natural" evil - human selfishness, human passion - and tries to restore order. And who is fundamentally a good man who loves his wife and his grown children and who enjoys a good meal and who tries to mentor his younger underlings.

Perhaps part of this, the difference for me between Gamache and Will Stanton, is that - Will Stanton, because he is an "Old One," because he is locked in a supernatural battle against evil, he is doing something I could not do. And I think about that situation and I can see all the ways I could fail at it - that if evil co-opted someone I loved, and I thought they would die as a result, it would be very hard to keep fighting. But Gamache, on the other hand: he is doing the job he trained for. He is doing it to the best of his ability (which is really very good), but there is nothing supernatural or superpowered about him: he is a man. Yes, a good man, a man with ethics and morals, but just a man, not an Old One or an angel or anything else.

And I think right now in my mindset of "what I can do is so very small" that is more appealing to me. I can't fix the world; I'm not smart enough or strong enough or well-enough-connected. But I can fix some little things local to me, and maybe that's good enough, and that's what the Gamache novels seem to tell me: do what you can to make things better, but beyond that, enjoy life and don't worry if you can't fix the whole world.

* Still working away on the sleeve of Hagrid. I'm getting within 25 or so rows of being done so I've kind of shifted to working exclusively on this sweater during my evening knitting time. It will be nice to have this finished even if it looks like there will be no winter weather cool enough this year to make it comfortable to wear. 

* Talk of "Galentine's Day" on the news today. Yuck. Apparently this is the "alternative" Valentine's Day dreamed up for unattached women - that they go out clubbing or to a bar or something? I dislike this idea not just because the idea of clubbing or going to a bar makes me come out in hives, but I don't care for those sort of "we're going to force ourselves to have fun" idea.

On rare occasions I have a day out with a female friend but it more involves things like going to a yarn shop or going for tea or something like that.

I mean, it's great if some women enjoy the Galentine's Day thing, but I know it's not for me.

And anyway: Valentine's Day is on a Tuesday this year, who wants to go out on a Tuesday night when you have work Wednesday? (And I have a doctor's check-up that day)

* This is going to be a work-end. I have to finish typing (and do some revision on) that manuscript and I definitely have to put together the stuff for the science olympiad this weekend. Not fun, but I guess on some level I signed up for this.

Next weekend is both Honor's Day and the Olympiad, so I'm going to be tied up all Saturday with work stuff.

The following weekend is my birthday weekend and I have already decided I am not going to do anything work-related on Saturday but rather go to Whitesboro and buy some yarn. And probably swing by some of the stores in Sherman on my way back home (if everything goes well? Maybe Ulta will send me the e-mail about my "birthday gift" a couple days early and I can pick it up then).

* I'm not traveling over spring break; I had already decided this with the second set-up of the experiment. PERHAPS I could have got someone to monitor and water it, but that might be difficult to find someone to do that for me, as none of the students have keys (and, after the break in debacle of a couple years ago, I am sure not loaning my key to anyone) and most of my colleagues will be gone.  I may take a couple days and go do day-trips, what, I don't know. (There's so little close by any more, unless you like driving in and around Dallas, which I do not).

Thursday, February 09, 2017

"Firehose of kindness"

One of the things that distresses me - it has distressed me for a while, but since the start of 2017, it seems more obvious, perhaps because more attention is being given it, because politics, is what I see as a creeping incivility in our culture. There are people who think "telling it like it is" in the most unvarnished way possible (including Anglo-Saxonisms) is the way to be "real."

(I still think of the old MTV show "The Real World," which was kind of guilty-pleasure watching for me in grad school - well, maybe not guilty-PLEASURE, but for some reason I still watched it. But it started off with the comment about "this is what happens when people stop being polite and start being real." And I kind of hated the idea that "real" and "polite" were set up as mutually exclusive choices. It is entirely possible, I would argue, to be polite but still people what they need to change or what the problem is. In fact, I'd argue that people will be more inclined to listen to criticism if it is delivered in a polite way).

Anyway. My general nature reflects how I was raised, and probably to a certain degree, my genetics.

(A former doctor of my family: "You are ALL introverts. I picture you as going home in the evening, each going to separate rooms, and reading a book." Yeah, more or less. And I do think there's a genetic link with whether or not you are comfortable in crowds but there's also a learned aspect to it, and I know my parents "taught" me a certain level of self-reliance and reticence)

I was raised with the "love your neighbor as yourself" ideal. Oh, that doesn't mean you constantly have to be in the middle of your neighbor's business. It doesn't mean you have to go over there and offer unrequested advice. But it does mean, for example, if they've just come home from the hospital you check to see if they need you to run errands for them or cook them a meal. Or that you find out if they just need to talk to someone when they've lost a loved one, and be there to listen. Or if their lawnmower is broken, send your kid over and ask if they either want to borrow ours, or have the kid mow the lawn for them.

I was also raised to be perceptive. I think some introverts are that way - I've had people comment on how I seem to be sensitive to mood and the like, and pick up on when something else is going on in someone's life. I suspect that's a feature from having been on the "outside" looking "in" so much of my life - I never had THAT many friends, I was never a part of a big clique, I was usually on the fringes of any group I belonged to, so I observed.

But anyway. I also strive to be kind (kind =/= nice, where "nice" is Fluttershy in Our Town where she's saying "Maybe we should just go along to get along" instead of resisting Starlight Glimmer's tyranny). This does mean sometimes putting myself out a little bit - coming in at times I might not otherwise be here when someone needs help, or allowing extensions/make up exams when it's not really convenient. Or agreeing to do stuff.

But anyway. I do these things. Once in a while I either get a thank-you or I see that what I did had some beneficial effect. Sometimes I don't. I know we shouldn't expect to be thanked but I do admit it grates when you have someone who seems to expect you to go over and above what is expected, where they act as if it is their due and OF COURSE you would do that because they are special and deserving.

That's part of it.

 The other part is just the general growing incivility. I know it's been going on for a long time, really, I've noticed it since I was an adult. But things like, instead of going straight for the policies or positions of some politician that you disagree with, using name-calling: which really just brings you down to the lowest possible level and honestly, in my day-to-day life, if someone criticizes me and then calls me some kind of insulting name, I am going to take the criticism far less seriously.

And I dunno. I've reached my limit of watching people get down in the mud, and more than reached my limit of seeing the contempt of politicians or famous-people-behaving-badly extended in the same rude terms to people around one.

And I commented, on ITFF: "What I can do [being kind, being civil] is so small; it feels like I am at a house fire with an eyedropper full of water." And it does, a lot of the time.

Someone else replied that based on things I said to people on there, it was more like a "fire hose of kindness" Maybe, I don't know. I still feel pretty ineffectual in what I can do to make things better but the metaphor made me smile.

I vacillate a lot in this "new normal" (which, as I've said before, is never something good: if the "new normal" were better it would be called "an improvement" and not have the newspeak euphemism of "new normal" pasted over it to cover up that it's worse than it was).

Sometimes, when I'm at my best and emotionally strongest, I think, "They say being kind is for 'losers.' Well, then, baby, I'm a loser" - sort of a rebellious, I-don't-care-what-they-think, I'm-gonna-do-what-I-believe-to-be-right attitude

Other times I wonder: Maybe I need to get harder and develop sharper elbows. Maybe sometimes I need to say to people, "I'm sorry, but I won't grant you an extension despite the sad things going on in your life, because it's inconvenient for me. Get the paper in on time or else forfeit the points" - to make MY life easier by maybe making someone else's a little harder. And I don't know. That goes against everything I learned growing up but sometimes it does feel like the only way to "play" the "game" is to be kind of hard and "scrape 'em off, Claire."



Then again: if you win the rat race, you are still surrounded by rats. So I don't know.

The third option I see is one I couldn't currently do, but maybe will consider once I reach retirement age: running away to a cabin somewhere, living off the grid as much as possible, and just avoiding the nuffers altogether. Reading books instead of being out among people. Walking in the woods instead of going to work....and yeah, I get weird and sad when I'm away from people too much but the fact that I still fantasize about that kind of life (alone in a cabin far away from people) tells me there's some attraction to it for me, and maybe I'd eventually break through being weird and sad and reach some kind of new equilibrium where I was just fine 100% alone....

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Hopefully, avoiding jinxes

Board meeting was tonight.

We voted on something that, if it all works out as it looks like it will, it will be very good for us.

We voted to recommend extending* a probationary contract to a new minister. This is someone who's filled the pulpit the past few weeks and it has been a very positive experience. His sermons are scholarly but not dry, he seems like a very personable person, and, to me, he strikes me as someone who takes his faith seriously - in the sense of he thinks about how it informs his day to day life and what it means to be a person in the world today, and he encourages us to do that. Oh yes, of course you expect a minister to do that, but some do not. We've had at least one person (I might be misremembering but I thought another one too) join since he's been visiting. So all in all, it looks very positive.

and it means stability for a while, which is something I tremendously crave right now, so I am hoping and praying everything works out as it looks like it should. Maybe this is the end of the "not yet" for the answer to our prayers?**

(*Congregational politics: the board recommends, there is a required 2/3 of the active congregation to make it so - I think I am remembering the 2/3 correctly).

(** It's said God has three ways of answering prayer: "Yes," "Not Yet," and "I have something better in mind for you")

Tomorrow night I don't have to go out and I have a chicken in the fridge I can roast, and tomorrow night I can relax because I just give an exam on Friday....and I have the manuscript nearly typed and it just needs to be revised now.