Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving thanks: extended play version

Hello, friends.

I'm having a hard day. Nothing terrible has happened, but I've got a couple worries on my mind.

As a distraction, or perhaps antidote, or perhaps balm, I'm thinking about what I would post today for my daily FB status update in the "30 Days of Thanksgiving" practice. And it's a LOT, too much to fit in that little box. So here it is.

-- I'm grateful for a warm house and food to eat and jobs we're good at that we like--all the things that make up our daily sustenance.

-- I'm grateful for family; they are far away, and that makes me a little blue, but I'm looking forward to seeing them again. And talking by phone & catching up on e-mail and FB in the meantime.

-- I'm grateful for my beloved dead--those ancestors of blood and spirit who have passed on, and friends, too, who are no longer here. I love talking to them and remembering them.

(Some wedding pic.s; top: me and the Goralski sisters--my Aunt Agnes, my grandmom Marie, and my Aunt Frances; bottom: my grandmom Mildred and granddad Bill Hayden)

-- I'm grateful for the music that's playing on my stereo (a station of Celtic music). I'm grateful music is my companion and helps me express my heart.

-- I'm grateful for knitting, and for expressing love through handknits.

(My sister-in-law Donna wearing the prayer shawl 
I made for her, summer 2013.)

-- I'm grateful for my friends in town who are my village, helping us raise our son and give him and us support and create a good life for us all--one that includes goofiness as well as classical music.

(July 4th, a couple years ago, my friend Jonalyn teaching.)

-- I'm grateful for my friends who live in faraway places--friends we've made along the way in Maryland, Georgia, California, Minnesota, Chicago... And my goodness, I'm grateful that I get to keep up with them on FB. (For all its silliness and weirdness, FB is still a boon to me for that reason!)

-- I'm grateful for my friends and colleagues whose work is revitalizing native languages and cultural practices and narrative traditions and art and philosophies. It's hard work, but so needed. And I'm grateful for those native friends and colleagues who are making art informed by these things, taking us into the future.

-- I'm grateful for my students, who give me hope for the future and make me proud and make me laugh; and I'm grateful for my colleagues, who are so damn smart.

(With the travel-learning crew in May 2013, 
in South Dakota and in Minneapolis.)

--  I'm grateful for dinner last night with my friend Chris and his daughter Maya; they fed us wonderful food and shared laughter and stimulating conversation with us. It was exactly what I needed!

-- I'm grateful for our friends Cy and Debbie, who have invited us to go to a Thanksgiving buffet at a fancy restaurant with them later today. Exciting! We get to share the meal with lovely people, and we don't have to deal with the half-broken stove. Once again, just what I need!

-- I'm grateful for the faraway teachers and friends who enrich my spiritual practice. They help me see beauty and love. They have made my life immeasurably better.

-- I'm grateful for my friends in South Dakota, whom I miss. And I'm grateful for the land, and the spirits of that land. I can't wait to go back there.

(I heart the Missouri River!)

-- I'm grateful for the writers whose work I love and enjoy, those stories and poems that help me discover another new way to think about the truth of life. Sometimes I read things I barely recognize, and sometimes I read things that sound like they came right out of my heart.

(One of my favorite places to buy books! Here's their web site!)

-- I'm grateful for animal companions--the ones who live with us and the ones who live with our friends and family. Even as one in particular tests my patience and optimism (ahem), I recognize the sweetness of having them with us.

(The culprit... being too cute and "tagging" me 
when I come up the stairs.)

-- I'm grateful for the health of my physical body--that it lets me walk and dance and laugh and sing and think.

-- I'm grateful for sitting here and writing in my pjs, a cup of tea brewing. I'm so very grateful for finding my voice in my writing, and sharing it with others.

That's not even the whole list. So for now I will say, to the four winds and all the spirits all around: thank you!

May you feel the love of gratitude today--and many other days besides.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Report from the county fair

Where I grew up, we did not go to the county fair. I can't even recall if there was one. (There must have been, right? Aren't counties are required by law to have annual fairs?) It just wasn't a thing we did, living in the suburbs of D.C.

So when we moved to our little town in Ohio, the county seat, I did not realize how much of a Thing going to the fair would be. Everyone here goes to the fair; some of my friends have kids who are part of 4H and such. The fairgrounds are right in town, just a few blocks away (a nice walk). And the school kids here get two days off from school for the fair!

(These guys were butting heads. 
Who do they think they are, goats?)

When we first moved here and Dexter was little, we went to the fair every year. Our attendance is more hit-and-miss of late, and this year we went without the boy--who went with his friends. (Good lord, going to fair with his parents would be about the last thing he wants to do these days! Plus, Patrick and I held hands, which I'm sure he would have found mortifying.)

The purported highlight of our particular county fair is the Little Brown Jug harness race. I've never been to the race itself. (Admission is expensive that day, plus there's the whole "I teach all day on Thursdays" thing.) I'm a little suspicious of the racing industry anyway, having grown up in Maryland. I'd rather visit the horses who live at the fairgrounds during non-fair time, saying hello on one of my walks or bike rides. For us, the attractions of the fair have been the rides, the food, and the farm animals.

 (People attach lawn chairs to the fence along the race track months ahead of time
to claim good seats for the race. 
I think these have been there for a while...)

The rides are what you would expect--carnival rides, some for little kids and some for daredevils. One year, Dexter was finally big enough to go on the non-kiddy rides, about which he was VERY excited. We chose one for all three of us that looked pretty innocuous: everyone sat side-by-side in a row, and the thing moved the row of chairs back and forth for a while, then around in a circle. There was no upside-down-ness involved, so I thought it would be okay.

 (One of Dexter's favorite rides from days gone by...)

I've never felt so sick in my life! Since then, we have mostly avoided the rides.

Way in the back of the fairgrounds, there's a place for the tractor pull (which we can usually hear, late into the night, at our house), demolition derby (which always reminds me of the end of this book), school bus races (which are just as awesome as you'd think they are) and lawnmower races.

(This year's parade of lawnmowers
before the races got underway.)

Somewhere in my files I have a picture of my pants leg, splattered with mud from the demolition derby. It was exciting!

Our county fair is full of contests--best corn and soybeans, best rhubarb, best tomatoes, best photography, best quilt (several categories), best pig, best chicken... too many to name. It's fun to look at the winners.

(I'm guessing these looked more delicious
on the day they were judged...)

(This was one of my favorite quilts from this year.)

(Confession: I entered my knitting one year and won a blue ribbon! But, truth be told, there wasn't a lot of competition. I had all sorts of ideas about how to reform the contest so it would tap into the hundreds of women in our county who knit all sorts of beautiful things... But then I remembered: I am the egghead outsider. I need to just calm down. Maybe later, after I've been here a while, I can offer my newfangled ideas to the folks who've been doing this their whole lives...)

I think, for some people, the contests are the whole point of the fair, especially the animal contests (which seem to include some serious if good-natured competition). But us? We wouldn't know the difference between a Bantam and a Rhode Island Red; we just like to look at the animals.

Of course, being a fiber person, I'm less interested in the neatly shaved sheep and am more interested in ones like these:

(These ladies were the only fleece-still-on of the bunch.)

And here's what I really see when I look at them:

(Don't you want to just bury your fingers in those curls?
Or is that just me?)

There are always some fancy chickens.

(I swear there's a chicken underneath that outfit.
Doesn't he look proud of his blue ribbon?)

And it's entertaining to walk amongst them while they crow and cluck.

This year, the stroll amongst the rabbit cages took a turn to the dangerous...

(I can't help but notice she's wearing a lot of eye makeup...)

And then to the positively macabre!

(And yet she/he looks so cute, not at all like a zombie.)

My goodness.

This year, in the tent that's all about farm animal babies, instead of eggs that would be hatched during the fair (one of my favorite things), they had a bunch of already-hatched chicks and ducklings. They are cute as heck, but I kind of liked the excitement of possibly seeing an egg hatch while you were there.

(duckling pile-on!)

All in all, it was a fun visit. Which of course included the requisite fried food. (It's just unpatriotic to go to the fair and shun the funnel cake. I draw the line at the deep-fried Snickers bars, though.)

(Maybe she opted for the deep-fried Snickers...)

It's the last day of the fair today, which means Fall is really here. I hope the new season is bringing you some time to reflect on your harvest. Do you have a county fair where you live?


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Letter to the Editor

A few months ago I wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper, the Delaware Gazette. It's a pretty small paper--or at least it seems that way to someone who grew up reading the Washington Post--but we subscribe because it covers items of local interest that the Columbus paper doesn't.

So a few months ago, they covered an event around the opening of the film 42, which tells the story of how Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to major-league baseball, and the various difficulties they faced during that process. The film's premier was a huge deal here in town because of a local connection: Branch Rickey first coached at Ohio Wesleyan University--my employer! And the character, played by Harrison Ford, even mentions Ohio Wesleyan in a monologue as being a formative experience in his rejection of racism. Woohoo!

But I thought it was ironic and troublesome that, at the roundtable discussion at the premier, there was a representative from a team using a Native American mascot--well, really, a caricature of one. You'll see what I mean in my letter, below.

Well, I got all nervous when I sent it, thinking that after it ran I'd face some people who didn't agree with me or thought I was making too big a deal out of the whole thing. I braced myself, but felt it was important to speak out. (I'm taking a Homeland Security-inspired stance on these things: if you see something, say something.)

And then... nothing. They didn't e-mail or call me, didn't print the letter, nothing. Patrick and I scratched our heads. Our little paper publishes the most wacky, illogical letters you've ever seen; they print stuff that's ridiculous on a regular basis. And yet here was something I thought was calm and well informed, and they ignored it.

Well, I guess I can't leave well enough alone. Or rather, I still think the issue is worth raising. So here is my letter, copied below. I hope you find it thought-provoking. Or at least non-crackpot-ish.


14 April 2013

Dear Editor:

I read with interest your story on yesterday’s front page, “Robinson and Rickey remembered at roundtable,” and appreciate the fact that the film 42 has brought more attention to the story of Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson. However, I could not help but notice that one of the roundtable speakers serves as vice president of the Cleveland Indians. I’m surprised that a panel on sports figures who stood up to racism in the 1940s would remain silent on the glaring ways in which professional sports teams today perpetuate racist ideas of American Indian people.

The defense of American Indian team names and mascots usually goes something like this: it’s just something fun, it does no harm. Recent research suggests otherwise, however. A 2008 article titled “Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots” shows that even “positive” stereotyped images of natives, such as Chief Wahoo and Pocahontas, “has a negative impact on American Indian high school and college students’ feelings of personal and community worth, and achievement-related possible selves.” In other words, even positive stereotypes make native children feel less valued, and feel that they have fewer possibilities for a meaningful future. These are not, in fact, harmless images, even when they are not overtly negative.

Another defense of using Indian mascots says that they “honor” native people; but it is not honoring (or respectful) to create a grinning caricature and perpetuate false ideas about native cultures. A more suitable honoring might be to invite the descendants of Ohio tribes to participate in ceremonies in the lands where their ancestors are buried, as the Newark Earthworks Center has done, hosting members of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma; another way of honoring would be to bring more attention and resources to the efforts of Miami University’s Myaamia Center to revitalize the language and culture of the Miami Tribe. We need to recognize the full humanity of native people and admit that it is not appropriate to use and abuse their images for entertainment.

Just a few months ago The Smithsonian held a symposium on the issue of Indian mascots; more information can be found at
Readers can also gain interesting insights from the blog “Native Appropriations,” at

I hope that your readers will remember that most people in 1946 were blind to the racism that Jackie Robinson endured—racism that we now see plainly. And I hope that we will recognize and address our own racism toward native people so that the next generation can look back at 2013 and see that we, too, like Branch Rickey, were courageous, faced our wrongs, and righted them.

Yours sincerely,

Karen M. Poremski

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Breaking radio silence

Hello, friends! How have you been?

I've decided to break my silence to share some linguistic tics I've been noticing around the innerwebz lately. What surprises me is this: rather than bugging me, they make me laugh.

Here's one: shortening the word "feelings" to "feels," then using that in a sentence.

Example: We went to our son's high school orientation a few weeks ago. The experience brought up a lot for me--pride that he's been doing so well in school, worry that he'll get lost in the labyrinthine building and be picked on by older kids, amazement that he's getting so tall and growing more independent, annoyance at his unwillingness to let us help him figure things out, sadness that he's not my baby anymore...

Using this new linguistic pattern, I might shorten all of that to the following statement on FB or Twitter: "We went to the Boy's high school orientation night tonight. I am having all of the feels."


(Our dear goofball at Science Fair a couple months ago.)

Here's another linguistic tic: using the pattern "Because [noun]"; in this case, the noun serves as the reason why you would do something that might not be... completely rational. And it works really well when this phrase is set off as its own sentence. One hundred percent grammatically incorrect! But funny!

The Bloggess provided an awesome version of this structure in a recent post that included a discussion of the phrase "because wine." (Go ahead, take a look; I'll wait for you back here. Be careful not to have any food or drink in your mouth when you read her blog--dude, that stuff might end up on your screen. To be fair, the "because wine" post takes a turn into a less funny/more difficult subject... but take a look at this other post. I had to read it out loud to Patrick the other day because he wanted to know what I was guffawing about at the breakfast table.)

I have also been thinking about knitting-related phrases that fit this pattern. For example: "Yeah, it's 80 degrees outside but I decided to cast on for these wool hand-warmers. Because malabrigo." Or "I have three unfinished lace projects on the needles but I need something easier, maybe in garter stitch. Because Game of Thrones."

(Last year I made these for my friend Mary. 
And gave them to her in July.)

Now, these are fairly specialized, so if you're not of the knitterly persuasion they might not speak to you. (And I haven't actually seen GoT, but I hear it's all the rage.) Here's a non-knitting example: "I was supposed to finish that report by Wednesday, but I decided to extend my deadline to Friday. Because naps."

Or: "I was so busy I stopped exercising and put on some weight, but now that it's summer I decided to get back into my routine. Because prancercise." (If you've already seen the original prancercise video, check out this rendition of Urban Prancercize by R. Vincent Moniz, Jr., and Jonathan Thunder. It is sublime.)

In other news, life has been handing me a platter piled high with events both wonderful and sad. The wonderful: Last week I went on a trip to Quebec as a chaperon for the Boy's 8th grade French class; it was great! (I hope to share some of that here soon.)

(Here's one of the photos I took in Quebec... 
more soon, I hope!)

Even more wonderful: In May, I went on a trip to Rosebud, Minneapolis, and Chicago with students from my "Reading Native American Literature" class. (That was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my career, my goodness. I'm writing about it in several ways and hope to share some of that here.)

(Here's a photo of me in the Badlands, 
taken by one of my students.)

The sad: in April, my friend Julie died. In May, my friend Sherry died. Last week, my friend / teacher / beloved elder Albert White Hat, Sr., died. On a daily basis, I find myself mourning them and wondering how the rest of us can go on without these people on the planet. At the same time, I know that we have to go on  because of what they meant and did and made possible with their lives. I am grieving. It's a process, and not an easy one. (I may or may not share some of that with you here... we'll see what feels right.)

I hope your summer has started well. Keep your chin up, and I'll do the same. At least the innerwebz provides a few LOLs now and then, eh?


P.S. Does anybody else have a Thomas Dolby earworm now?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spring's late arrival

Yesterday we turned off the furnace and opened the windows to welcome the first day we could--long awaited, it seemed forever ago that we'd smelled the air drifting through the rooms, felt it on our skin, remembered that it will slam the door to the study if strong enough. Only a few months and we have forgotten the habits of warm days, the way we are when the outside moves inside.
(The daffodils are just about ready to bloom...)

Every year I am amazed and joyful at the waking up of the earth, our annual miracle. Yesterday it seemed like the house woke up, too. The slamming door, yes, but also the sheer curtains dancing in the window at the top of the stairs, dust bunnies emerging from under furniture and rolling across the blonde hardwood floors. The sun revealed translucent marks on the countertop where we'd forgotten messes.

This is the best kind of housekeeping: aided by the light and the breeze, welcoming the smell of warm, damp earth into the house. Saying goodbye to winter, sweeping away its sticky, its crumbs, its fluff. Turning to a new day, a new year, a new spring.

May you enjoy spring.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Flight instructions

I wrote this as I waited for the plane to go to Minneapolis this past Tuesday. I hope you enjoy it.

Safe travels,

-- Put your pocket knife and tweezers in the bag you're going to check. Find the lighter at the bottom of your purse, the one you keep there for emergency smudging, next to the tail end of the sweetgrass braid, and leave it at home. Hope that the shop at the airport, past security, sells cheap lighters.

-- Take the stones out of your backpack. Leave them at home. Your bags will be heavy enough without carrying rocks around. Put one small stone in your purse. It's probably okay to bring just one.

-- Fish around in all your pockets--in your coat, your purse, your backpack, all the nooks and crannies--for the things you have stashed there and nearly forgotten that the airlines will throw away: minty lip balm, lipstick, hand lotion, antibacterial lotion, cuticle cream, Rescue Remedy. Put them in a ziplock bag, quart size only, and put that bag in the front pocket of your backpack for easy removal in the security line.

-- Put your fountain pens in a plastic baggie inside your pencil case. They are not restricted items, not forbidden. But they might leak.

-- Wear slip-on shoes. Make sure socks are clean and free of holes.

-- Keep your wallet handy. Be ready to grab your driver's license and credit card. Show them; put them away; keep track of your boarding pass; put it away; take it out; once you get on the plane, fold it up and use it as a bookmark.

-- Get something to eat or drink if you have to wait a while--lord knows, they won't feed you on the plane. Be sure to have water handy. (The air on the plane is so dry.) But also be sure to visit the bathroom before you board.

-- Kiss the ones you love, hug them. But don't get maudlin. Don't think it might be the last time.

-- On your way into the plane, give the fingers on your right hand a quick kiss, and pat the outside of the plane, to the right of the door opening.

-- Stow your backpack under the seat in front of you, but first take out what you need--water, something to read, pen and pencil, something to write on, knitting. If your backpack won't fit under the seat, put it overhead. Do all of this quickly. Shove your feet on either side of your purse. Remember that this is the only place you regret having long legs.

-- Ask your guardian angels to help you not be afraid. Ask the spirits of the air to lift and carry the plane gently, and set it down again gently on the other end. Pray. Think about sleeping. Drink water. Read. Think about your destination. Think about your home.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Do you wish you could write?

This is the question posed on the cover of Lynda Barry's recent book What It Is. I bought a copy with my birthday gift certificate and have been making my way through it slowly, savoring the images on each page and letting them sink in, pondering the questions asked and ideas raised... It's a wonderful book!

(My awesome birthday g.c. purchase...)

I have two things to tell you about this topic.

First: if the answer to that question for you is YES but you're having problems getting started on a project, or continuing a project, or finishing a project, you might want to take Alice Bradley's online course "The Practice of Writing." Here's a link; registration will be open for a few more days.

The course is, at the same time, very flexible in terms of your situation (whether you want to write a blog or short stories or poetry or whatever) and in terms of the time commitment (as little as, say, a half hour a day or as much as several hours--whatever you can spare).

And the course is both inspiring and practical. In addition to giving information about things you can do to help you get to your goals, Alice's motivational advice is just the right combination of kick in the butt and "there, there" if you fall down. She's a great teacher.

So if you're thinking about making writing a bigger part of your life, check it out!

Here's the second thing I need to say, though I won't say too much... out of superstition, I guess. I took Alice's course this past January/February, and the answer to that question above is most emphatically YES. Yes, yes, and more yes. Yes every day.

I hope you have an inspiring day. If you wish you could write, give yourself a little 15-minute break and go ahead and write. Make your wish come true.


Friday, March 8, 2013

The knee knows

On Tuesday afternoon, my knee said to me, quite simply: snow.

It was on one of the many trips I made up and down the stairs in my building, between my office and the next floor down, where our mailboxes and copy machine and water cooler and coffee machine and bathroom are. It was not a loud message, and it was not repeated. It was plain, and just once, but it definitely was.

I doubted my knee. It was only raining at the time, and didn't feel cold enough for snow. Turns out, I should not have doubted my knee. Also, it has a way better track record than any weather forecaster out there: every single time it says "snow," we get snow within 24 hours. This has been going on for, oh, more than 30 years now. (!!!)

(view out the front window, Wednesday, March 6th, dawn)

 (view out the back window, Wednesday, March 6th, dawn)

 (view out the kitchen window, Wednesday, March 6th, dawn)

So that started me thinking about some of the other ways I doubt or don't listen to or ignore my body, ways that I tell it: I don't believe you (no matter how right you are).

Lately, most often I ignore my body when it tells me I need sleep. (This is not good, I know.) Most often it's because I need to finish my homework--prepping for class the next day (reading the text or writing a lesson plan), maybe grading, or organizing other non-class things that need to happen (usually this involves being on e-mail). There's an urgency in getting that work done that allows me to ignore my body.

But sometimes, on the nights when homework is less urgent, I get this feeling I used to get as a kid, where I really, really want to stay up and watch some teevee or hear what the grownups are talking about. (I think the closest equivalent nowadays to listening what the grownups are talking about is looking to see what's happening on FaceBook or Twitter.) I feel that if I go to bed, I will miss something. And I don't want to miss anything! I want to be part of the party! I want to be part of the conversation--at least to listen to it!

Sometimes, on those nights, I'm able to limit the stay-up-past-my-bedtime time to one show or just a little time online; but sometimes it's as if no amount of time doing those things is going to satisfy that yearning. Somehow, I need to figure out, on those nights, how to convince my younger self that a) we are not missing anything, and b) we'll feel much better tomorrow if we just go to sleep. (Usually, though, my younger self is not a very good listener. Must figure out how to talk to it more effectively... Maybe I could convince it that the chance to come up with some interesting dreams will be entertainment enough? or a different kind of "let's see what's going on elsewhere" kind of activity?)

I hope you are getting enough sleep where you are, and that you make your way safely through whatever kind of weather you've got. Listen to your body.


(Edited to add: today, two days later, the snow is melting, the sun is out, and everything around me says spring is coming... I have been feeling the undeniable urge to dance! dance! dance! Okay, now I'm listening, body. Let's dance around the kitchen! Let's GO!)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

In honor of Brigid

In honor of Brigid, the goddess of the bards and of midwives, keeper of the healing well and the forge, I offer this poem.

by Heid E. Erdrich

Nub of human,
shell pink fingernail,
whether you live
or all unformed
leave her body
she will never
be without you.

This, scientists tell us, is literally true:
... the cells from her miscarriages, her stillborns,
and all of her children ... We carry them
for a lifetime. But the cells actually go both ways.

Nub of human,
your cells migrate,
are found at sites
hurt in the maternal body,
and in successive siblings,
even those you never knew,
even those who never knew you.

Nub of human,
shell pink fingernail,
she will never be without you.

Vivid dreams in her bed echoed,
a wall away and you felt her,
knew her wakefulness
through the quiet she maintained.

She knew it too and tried
explaining, "It is like she is in me,
knows my brain, and wakes me up
before she wakes."

Darkness so soft she feels its nap
cushion her movements,
still she reaches you
just as your cries begin,
then you two are one again.

Or more correctly,
you never left:
your cells and hers
flowed back and forth--
blood river once between you
went two ways, scientists say:

The waves of fetal microchimerism
are just beginning to break
along the scientific shore.

Even in her milk,
her milk for you--your milk,
a million messages, recipes, connections.

This month you demand
brain grease, complex fats;
next month another mix
produced especially for you.

She should have known
when she craved avocado, salmon, sesame,
and cursed the invective against sushi.

Nub of human,
shell pink fingernail--

Who left cells in your mother
that she gave to you?

A million unknown others.

What makes us
our own sole and sovereign selves
is only partially us.

The search for God can be called off.

Now we know:
masses of genetic material not our own
inside us, always with us, like the soul.

I should not
have said that about God.
Forgive me, I
am not

(Italicized lines from Dr. Judith G. Hall, 2002, and from Bruce Morgan's profile of Dr. Diana Bianchi in Tufts Medicine, 2005.)

Poem reprinted with permission from the author, and available in the book Cell Traffic.

In gratitude for Brigid, and for all the poets of the world, today and yesterday and tomorrow.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Lightning post about slow things

Today was supposed to be a Writing Day, dedicated to coming up with a whole new opening to my "Dances with Kevin" essay. I recently recognized (in horror) that I've been working on it for a couple years now. I need to be DONE with it, send it along once again and hope it finds a home.

But it was a tough week because of a) lingering migraine pain and b) trouble sleeping, not to mention c) teaching all my classes and doing all my homework, so I was d) exhausted, and e) needed a nap. So instead of a Writing Day I had a Recovery Day. (LMNOP? ZZZZZ?)

And then I thought: hey, how about a blog post? I could do like Anne and Kay over at Mason-Dixon knitting again and write a fast one with a time limit! Woohoo! So here we go... And this time, it's a KNITTING post!

I always make something knitted for Dexter and Patrick for Christmas. It's rare that I finish them before the actual day, but I usually finish during the vacation, or shortly thereafter. This year, not so much. (See: flu; lots of work to finish over the break; tired.) I am still working on them. Arg!

So here are the knitted things, photographed with our Christmas tree as it waited to be picked up on the curb. (Isn't that the epitome of the post-Christmas let-down?)

Patrick's socks
This year he requested socks in a thinner fabric, so I used a pattern I've made for him before, the Yarn Harlot's Earl Grey.

 (Sad tree; sock looks kind of sad, too...)
 (... but a nice color, yes? And look at those lovely teensy cables!)

(And here's the second one, on the needles at least; 
as of today, I'm 1/3 down the leg...)

Dexter's mitten-gloves
This year Dexter requested mittens, but the kind where you can fold over the mitten part to reveal half-gloves. And he wanted them in mostly black, with a red design thingy. (Knitters, especially ones with middle-aged eyes, will tell you: ARG! not black yarn!)

I had a rough start on these; I've never made a pair, and I didn't have a pattern proper, just sort of guidelines (make a mitten but with a row that you zip out and open, add fingers there, etc.). And at first I was on the cray-cray train and thought I was going to knit them out of fingering-weight yarn (Translation for Non-Knitters: tiny, with toothpick-like needles) with a fair isle pattern (TfNK: a complicated color pattern that requires you to be a knitting NINJA). It wasn't until a few days before Christmas that I realized I should use thicker yarn and that Dexter would be perfectly happy with a simple stripe. So that's what we have here. Mitten one:

 (They look kind of baggy here--because the model is me, and D's hands are now bigger than mine.)

 (Here it is, inside out... with all the ends hanging out. 
So many ends! So much weaving-in to do!)

(Here's the folded-back look... Imagine it 
without all those strings hanging down... 
and with normal-looking fingers sticking out 
rather than something that looks like glow-sticks (???)... )

So, after I sign off here, the next stage of my Recovery Day is teevee time, with knitting. I hope that D and P will see these late presents not as a sign that I am lame and can't even finish Christmas presents properly, but rather as a sign that my love for them will persevere and continue on through all obstacles. Because it will.

May you make some noticeable progress today!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy new year!

I am feeling inspired by Kay and Anne, and am trying out something new: a 15-minute blog post.

(I don't usually make resolutions at the New Year--I make mine closer to Groundhog Day--but I know for sure I want 2013 to include more writing, including writing on the sadly neglected blog. So here we go!)

The past couple of days I have been a little bit excited that I'm in the news. Okay, maybe not me personally, but I've been sort of in the news. One of the big stories has been the 2012-13 FLU EPIDEMIC. Friends, I'm here to tell you that you DO NOT want this flu.

On Christmas Day, we had breakfast and opened presents, and I wanted to be partaking in the Christmas spirit, but I was not feeling great. With each passing minute, I felt worse. After present-opening, I felt so crappy that I went back to bed and didn't get up for the rest of the day. I had the classic flu symptoms: fever, body aches, coughing (a LOT), and extra mucus. I was gross.

 (My Mom had sent us fancy boxes of tissues 
in our St. Nicholas Day packages--for the colds we had 
in early December. This jolly Santa was my companion for several days...)

The next day, Patrick took me to the doctor--IN A BLIZZARD! I posted on FB that it felt like we were in an episode of Little House on the Prairie. Luckily, the doctor's office is only about a mile away, so we got there and back without incident. I was so pitiful while at the office that they offered to let me lie down while I waited for my flu test results to come back, and I did, and the doctor put one of those little sheets on me. Pitiful!

I wasn't sure whether I had bona-fide flu, or maybe bronchitis (did I mention I was coughing a lot?), or maybe pneumonia (which a friend of ours had recently), or maybe if it was the flu, it might be H1N1 (which another friend of ours had recently). Honestly, I was a little bit concerned that they'd send me to the hospital across the street and tell me to spend some time there. (I'm glad they didn't--what a terrible place to go when your immune system is already compromised!)

Anyhow, as soon as we got back home I went back to bed--and then stayed there for the next three days. When I could keep my eyes open, my iPod kept me entertained (FB, Twitter, NPR news, even the occasional e-mail check), and I read Life of Pi on the Kindle mom gave me for my birthday last year. The kittens came and snuggled with me a lot.

(My little sweatpeas; they made good companions when they weren't wrassling on the bed.)

When I finally was able to get out of bed, I still didn't have a lot of energy; going downstairs to eat a bowl of soup felt like running a 5K.

So that was almost three weeks ago now, and I'm STILL RECOVERING. I am resting a lot, some days staying in pjs and not going anywhere. Sometimes I read, or knit, but sometimes even that feels like expending too much energy. I am able to work about half a day before I feel like absolute crap. I am still coughing. (Our department secretary said she knew I was in the building the other day because she heard me coughing. Still pitiful!)

I'm really scared that classes start on Monday and I'm not able to work a whole day yet... and I'm teaching a new class (my Travel-Learning course, for which I must make many arrangements), plus a class I haven't taught in a LONG time that is out of my specialty areas, plus freshman English. Yikes. I'll just have to take it one day at a time and get done as much as I can without making myself feel worse. Woohoo--Let's hear it for reduced expectations!

Okay, it looks like my 15 minutes are up. I hope you, dear readers, are flu-free and enjoying the new year.