Sunday, December 28, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
Because of the lack of traffic I also had time to glance in the window of a veterinary supply store, just in time to see a Christmas tree decked out in icicles and covered with different colors of ear tags. (If you don't know what ear tags are, here's a link.) They were all different sizes and the bright colors really made an attractive tree--I've seen many that were worse.
Unfortunately, the Chinese restaurant was closed, so we joined the usual Christmas crowd at Furr's Cafeteria for an acceptable, if not planned, dinner. I was intermittently knitting on a sock, so I could accept the change of plan with aplomb.
Today I replaced my camera with a much smaller model, which means I can stick it in my handbag for moments such as these. True story--One of my colleagues had a daughter in junior high last year who came home talking about a boy who had just moved into her class. The girl had decided that there was definitely something wrong with this young man. The explanation? "Mom, he uses the word "handbag" correctly!"
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I notice that while the animals and flowers are interesting, I'm much more interested in human beings and how they live. I love the pictures of the old buildings in various countries, the colorful street markets, the pictures that show aspects of culture. Perhaps it's my old sociology minor coming out. Last night I began to reflect on how fortunate I am to live in a home that is perhaps not so picturesque, but is warm and cozy with plumbing and electricity and many other conveniences. I'm awaiting a firewood delivery today, but that will be something of a luxury, not an absolute necessity. While it will reduce our overall heating bill somewhat, thanks to our efficient little woodstove, I could have managed without it. I certainly did not have to go out and chop wood and stack it--I simply made a telephone call.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Yesterday, I cast on for the last pair of Christmas socks–not actually due till Jan. 1, thank heavens–knitted two rows, and a cable snapped about 3/8” from the needle! I laid those needles aside for repair and got out some others. Cast on again. Knitted leg, heel flap, heel–child’s sock–and started decreases. Cable came unglued from left needle. Thanks to the fact that all my stitches for that half of the sock were already on the metal, I was safe. I switched to another needle, one my DH had glued some time ago. Now the glue job is coming loose on it. Believe it or not, I think I have a couple of more pairs of needles in my needle stash, but I’m going to get out the glue before I start knitting this morning.
These needles have had rather heavy use. I have socks on them constantly. I don’t have all that many needles except for this one size, and I think KP actually replaced one that I managed to glue.
I’m still happy with the needles. Even with this going on, I didn’t lose a stitch because the metal part is longer than most circs, and the repairs will be easy enough to do. Furthermore, I have had one of those more expensive German circs come loose before, and I would have had only one needle of those rather than multiples due to the cost.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
My library Over Drive connection tends to have only one book by any one writer, except for C.S. Lewis, and all too often that one book is in the middle of a series--very irritating. I thoroughly enjoyed my last download, The Best Defense, by Kate Wilhelm. It is part of her series featuring Barbara Holloway, an attorney. Unfortunately, it is from the middle of the series. Now I'll have to go back and read the first books and then the following ones. I did find the book to be suspenseful, but not in the way I expected it to be. I had expected the main focus to be on the court case itself--would or would not the defendant be convicted--but that was not where the real story lay. Since strictly legal thrillers are not my cup of tea, I was pleased with that.
I'm still trying to get my Christmas spirit up. Sobering things have been happening to friends at work, and that has put a damper on Christmas feelings. In the last three weeks, one person, already under a load due to her DH's health problems, has totalled a car by hitting a deer, had her replacement car hit BY a coyote, and had a grandbaby come prematurely, with problems. Another colleague had a stroke last week, in the classroom, and is now in rehab. Another got a call at lunch on her cell last week. It seems her doctor discovered that she should have been called about her test results LAST AUGUST. They were bad. Biopsy. It is treatable. Another colleague is scheduled for a biopsy on the 26th to see what kind of damage two autoimmune diseases are doing to a couple of essential organs. We only have a faculty of about 35, so we are indeed ready for a break, between worrying about our friends and shifting to cover holes for the sake of the students. On the upside, it is nice to see that we are a caring bunch.
I hope that I can also get back to spinning during the holidays. I miss it, but I have trouble getting it in after work for some reason. For one thing, I need to adjust my wheel and set up a little better place to work where I can leave things "ready to go." I had hoped to have sort of a fiber studio area by this time, but some of the necessary remodeling--like a working heater--did not get done during the summer. I'm waiting somewhat impatiently. The delay is due to the fact that there was a really bad hail here last summer. There was such damage that roofers are still working. In a small town, there are not many local roofers, so the windows that are going into that room are still stacked in my garage. They will be installed eventually. We have a very heavy-gauge metal roof, so we were ok on that score.
I also want to get some firewood laid in during the holiday. We reinstalled our efficient woodburner in this house last winter and have been using up some very old and inefficent firewood. Now we need some oak. Considering that we will use about one oak log and one lighter log each day that we need a fire, a cord will last a long, long time. I'm just not sure that we can get less than that delivered here.
My DD found an ornament source for my little Christmas tree from the previous post. She actually bought a kit for herself in Michael's--they had one this year. Hers, however, has the tree already made. Once you know the brand, Westrim, ornaments can be found on ebay. I ordered a little set.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Having said all that, I am witnessing some real difficulties that some people I know are having. These people have also worked very hard and lived frugally. They have been properly insured themselves and covered by Workmen's Comp. In spite of this, an injury, the arguments between Comp and Insurance, delays, fiddling around on approvals by the insurance companies, and the 20% of the major medical expense they owe under the PPO plan, has eaten them into an almost destitute position. These are people who have not only contributed to our society by working hard all their lives, but also by working in the kind of job that serves others. While I am politically very conservative, I can't help but see this as part of our health care system taking advantage of those who have "done everything right" in trying to provide for the future. Surely in America we can do better than this.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Set in Victorian London in the time following "the big stink," the novel contains abundant, perhaps I should say overflowing, information about the state of the London sewers and attempts at improvement during the Victorian era. How this unlikely set of circumstances provides a motive for murder and the search for the murderer among a group of characters containing members of all the sewer-related occupations creates a fascinating read. Since I don't have access to audiobooks of the previous novels in the series, I suppose I'll have to visit the library and actually read them the old-fashioned way.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
It was truly a day for remembering what's important, including my own parents. Today was my daddy's birthday, and tomorrow was their wedding anniversary. They would have loved seeing these children.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
For those of you out there who teach, here’s some information about the project we just finished:
Each year, students at our high school read a novel at the same time. The first year, we all read the same novel, The Great Gatsby, but we found the range from regular 9th grade to 12th grade Advanced Placement to be a stretch. Last year, we did King Arthur legends in different versions depending on the grade and level. This year we chose the Western. Because we live in an agricultural area of Texas in a small town whose main industry is agriculture--specifically feeding cattle, producing food for cattle, transporting cattle, producing milk, and beef packing, we thought this would be a familiar subject to our students. After all, no one here even looks up at the rattle of spurs and pickups with horse trailers in tow are parked regularly at the drive-ins. I remember going to a touristy Western restaurant with my small son a few years ago. He looked at their waiters in full cowboy regalia and said, “Mommy, those cowboys don’t smell right!” Well, imagine our surprise in finding out that most of our students were totally unfamiliar with the Western as a genre. I suppose we had thought they would have picked up some things by osmosis, but very few of them had.
Our novel selections for most students were very traditional:
9th grade—Hondo, by Louis L’Amour
10th grade—The Cherokee Trail, by Louis L’Amour
11th and 12th grade, 10th grade Pre-AP—Conagher, by Louis L’Amour
And for the 11th and 12th grade Advanced Placement, a coming-of-age novel that explores the myths of the West as a theme, Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses
Each teacher—one on each grade level—chose her own activities and developed her own lesson plans for each book. The McCarthy book was taught with not only an eye to theme and plot, but also with a more traditional AP approach of style analysis, study of literary archetypes, study of symbolism, and structural analysis. The students are now in the midst of group multimedia projects over aspects of the novel or background issues in the novel. We will finish after the Thanksgiving holiday. If anyone wants a list of the projects, let me know. I can already tell that some of them should have been designed a little differently. Student response to the novel was mixed. I know that two students really disliked it—one was vocal and one too polite to say so. However, some of the students who are in the AP class because that’s our college-track class, but who really are science or math oriented, liked the book, finished reading a week or so early, and went on to read another Western. One, who thought we should have read a “more challenging” McCarthy—GT students can be that way—told me she is taking No Country for Old Men to read on the road for their Thanksgiving holiday trip. I told her I hope her holiday is very festive!
The other novels were taught with a more traditional approach. We read and discussed in class. We explained an amazing amount of Western terminology—words like stagecoach, corral, stirrup, saloon, etc. The 10th grade students produced tracking posters on various Western topics. These are researched and documented in MLA form, sort of a visual research paper.
These were displayed on the wall as part of our decoration for the final barbecue. One of the results of this project was that students became familiar with all sorts of Western places and legends that they were not familiar with before. It was also a good exercise in documentation skills.
My classes took a more varied approach to projects. I gave students in my 10th grade Pre-AP and 12th grade regular classes a choice of followup activities for the novel. I deliberately chose for the 10th graders activities that would lead them to take “compositional risk,” to think about writing in different ways other than a traditional essay or paper. Those students will be taking the state writing exam in March, and to score really well, being able to think about writing in a creative fashion is essential.
Here are some sample project suggestions. I was more detailed in spelling out requirements to the students, but you can suit youself if any of the ideas appeal to you:
A 25-entry dictionary of Western terminology used in the novel. This was to be in the form of a book. The results were much more varied and interesting than I had expected.
A diary “written” by a character in the book. It had to include not only incidents in the book, but thoughts and feelings and events fitting “between” episodes. It was to be properly aged, of course.
A short story retelling an event from the novel written from the viewpoint of the 11-year-old boy or the younger girl.
A research project using a poster and Venn diagram comparing the two Native American tribes mentioned in the novel—the Zuni and the Apache.
A project investigating the setting of the novel, the San Agustin Plains of New Mexico, at the time of the novel and as it is today. (This is the location of the Very Large Array, the enormous radio telescope.)
A children’s book describing what it was like to be a cowboy. I have not yet read all of these. Some did sort of a “this is what a cowboy uses” type. Some did coloring books. Some wrote stories with plot. Levels of execution varied. One of my more artistic students used scrapbooking materials in a creative and unusual way.
The one very unsuccessful assignment, probably because it was selected by students who don’t want to work anyway and who just threw something together--a resume for the main character.
The L’Amour books were a big success. Students who usually choose not to read are checking out more. We were careful to choose books that have strong female roles as well as the traditional Western hero, so the girls liked them as well.
Activities that we all did:
- We showed excerpts from a film on the Western as a genre. It was originally on television, so it was broken into parts. We showed the parts that were relevant to our particular classes. Therefore, we covered the concepts of the Western hero, the treatment of Native Americans and Hispanics in traditional Westerns, the bad guy, the role of violence, and other topics with liberal examples from film.
Every English student attended a presentation by Eldrena Douma, a Pueblo storyteller. Although I wasn’t sure at first what the response would be, I found that they did incorporate some of what she said into discussion of the scenes involving Native Americans in our novel. In addition, she gave some good examples of how to turn everyday events into interesting stories. This was a deliberate choice on her part to give us examples for teaching TAKS writing.
We also spent a day on Artifiction, a project from the American Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame and Museum in Amarillo, Texas.
We teamed for this project. Working at the tables in the library, students examined artifacts from the museum to determine what they were. They made the determination by answering questions on analysis sheets. Then we gave them the history of the object. When we go back from the holidays, we are going to be asking students to choose an “artifact” from their homes or lives and write about that artifact and its meaning, not as an explanation, but from the viewpoint of someone using the artifact, someone making the artifact, someone finding the artifact, or from the p0int-of-view of the artifact itself. There are graphic organizers provided by the museum for this purpose. (I know that it seems like poor planning on our part to split this project over the holidays, but we made 2 levels of the football playoffs during this time If you don’t teach in a small Texas town, you may not understand what effect that would have on planning, but take my word for it.)
Our final event was a pre-Thanksgiving feast of barbecue, cole slaw, and beans in the cafeteria. Students from the National English Honor Society did the decorating and cleanup.
When my daughter was a preschooler many years ago, her school sponsored a "Thankful for Pioneers" day each Thanksgiving, and the students could dress as traditional pilgrims, as Indians, or as pioneers from our area. The menu was barbecue and chili, and the children gave thanks for the settlers here. That was probably a very appropriate choice, since there is some evidence that the first "Thanksgiving" in the sense of a meal for that purpose by Europeans occurred long before the pilgrims in the Palo Duro Canyon about 50 miles from here when Coronado's men held a feast of thanksgiving for finding the canyon with water and good hunting after so many days of crossing the relatively barren Llano Estacado.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Period 1--breakfast; decorate the cafeteria for our Western barbecue luncheon; students are all coming to school in Western dress. Since many of our students are from Mexico originally, the style of Western dress is not what you expect from cowboy movies, but that's ok. Period 2--continue decorating if necessary.
Period 3--class as usual
Period 4--assembly in gym rewarding student achievement for the first two six weeks. This is a new thing for us, but it sounds really neat. I'm an official award T-shirt passer-outer.
Period 5-have someone cover my class so that I can supervise my serving crews in the cafeteria.
Period 6--supervise cleanup in the cafeteria while my class is watching the required instructional film and then practicing a schoolbus evacuation.
7th period--class. Do you think we'll accomplish much?
Over the holiday, I will write up and post pictures of the activities for those of you who are teachers. We learned some unexpected things from this project.
On the knitting front--Today, I'm knitting 15 minutes, housework/holiday cooking/laundry 15 minutes, in sort of a Flylady adaptation. I am not a ribbing person, and I'm working on a hat that is all ribbing on size 4 needles. I'm very pleased with the way it's turning out now that I'm ready to start the decreases, but it has been slower than I expected. I had planned a second, but I think I'm going to adapt for larger needles and fatter yarn. The original, however, will be extra warm and needs to be for the particular recipient. Pattern: Jacques Cousteau, for those of you on Ravelry.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Hint: I repeated the last project in a different color and different yarn. It's on my Ravelry project page.
Last Saturday was great! I drove to Amarillo that morning to stay with the younger DGD, who is almost 2 and a real sweetheart. We watched a VeggieTales movie, and she napped in my lap on the loveseat with both of us wrapped in an afghan. Meanwhile, the older DGD and her Mom and Dad were helping with a local charity, the Eveline Rivers Project. The adults have been helping almost every year since college.
For lunch, the older DGD and my DGS from my son's family and I went to a Japanese restaurant. That's 2 five-year-olds. They watched with some trepidation as the fire shot up from a grill a few seats away. When the chef came to our table to cook, one child ducked behind my chair and the other crawled under his! The chef just looked at me and grinned and said, "No fire, yes?" I nodded. Once he started cooking, everything was fine, and I think they enjoyed the meal. I know that we took go boxes, and DGD ate the leftovers for supper that evening. I will not, however, repeat this on a Saturday. We'll go for a weekday lunch. The restaurant was so crowded that we were rushed, as in they brought the check before the bean sprouts were finished cooking. I do not enjoy dining that way.
Today I'm a little bit nervous because I have brought in a project from a museum for a department-wide writing project. I hope it works well. We were a day later getting the materials than we had expected, so I'm the only one who got to look at the lesson plans and materials last night. Otherwise, we're winging it. This should be interesting, but I'm hoping that high school students will respond well to a hands-on writing project. I'll post the results and the link to the project if it works well.
OTN--nothing till this evening. Tonight is the one night of the week that I consider TV night, so I'll get lots of knitting done, I hope. I need to swatch for a project first.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
I just finished listening to the audiobook of Divine Justice by David Baldacci from Audible.com. I am a fan of the Camel Club series, but this is the first that I have listened to instead of read. It was a good listen and fun to knit to. The setting was a little bit different from what I expected after reading The Camel Club and The Collectors, but that only made the book more entertaining. I think that anyone who likes the spy novel type of mystery would find these books good reads.
VERY light reading--
A friend and I have also been having a blast reading or listening, depending on availability, to a series of romance novels by Jayne Castle, one of the pen names of writer Jayne Ann Krentz. The particular books we have been reading, some of them scrounged from used book stores, take place on another planet which was settled by Earth colonists during a temporary opening in the space/time continuum. The novels are pretty much standard romance fare, but we particularly enjoy the dust bunnies, tiny creatures which inhabit the planet. They start out in the first novel as just minor creatures, but in succeeding books the companion animals take on rather interesting personalities. I remember back in the '70s thinking that I would really like to have an R2D2 unit of my own. Very handy. I sort of feel the same way about these tiny fictional creatures. I rather hope the author continues the series.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
You will notice that there is not a knitting picture on this post. That is going to be a problem for a little while. Yes, my camera is still working, but I am doing some Christmas knitting for people who look at my blog. For those of you on Ravelry, I'm posting pictures on my project page there. After all, one has to keep some amount of mystery going! Hint: the newest project is a lunar event.
What's been going on? School is rambling on at full speed. This week, due to the intelligence of our legislature, is the end of the second six weeks, which is not six weeks, but five. Our first semester is significantly shorter than our second, something that makes almost no difference to elementary grades, but is a real killer in high school, where there are several one-semester classes. It also means that students who find out they are on the 3-weeks failing list have very little time left to fix anything. I know, you would think that since a student didn't turn in 3 papers and had an F on the one he did turn in, the fact that he is failing would not be a surprise, but somehow it always is! Of course, next semester, when we have a couple of seven-week six weeks, he will have more time. . . .
There are academic high points: our Western novel reading project is going well. We are seeing students who have finished reading ahead of time because they have become interested and are heading to the library for another book. Yippee! I am particularly happy about the ones who have done that with a major novel by Cormac McCarthy. Next week, my classes will have their turn at the computer lab to work on research and writing projects. Amazingly, this project turned out to be more cross-cultural than we had anticipated--many students had no idea about the popular history of the Southwest. I suppose there hasn't been an MTV version.
Side note: I actually had to stop a film-clip-illustrated documentary on the Western hero because a classroom full of sophomore girls was buzzing so loudly about how "hot" the younger John Wayne was.
How do you let the world know you're a knitter? Put on your shoes in the living room by your chair in the dark because you're in a hurry to get to school to check on the guest speaker. Teach all day. Look down 8th period, and see that you're trailing a length of bright green yarn out of your right shoe. At least it wasn't toilet paper. It was also "Dress Crazy" day for Red Ribbon Week, so perhaps some thought it was my costume.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
We're having an Indian Summer here. DH found this rose on the last remaining rose bush that belonged to my mother. He presented it by dropping it on my while I was snoozing in a morning bubble bath! I had this little crystal vase that was just right for it.
The sweater body is a Wonderful Wallaby for my DGS for this winter. I have one more to go after this one.
Monday, September 08, 2008
I got an award from Sherie at Whimsy Knits. Thanks so much.
- Post this award on your blog.
- Add a link to the person who awarded you.
- Nominate at least 4 other bloggers and add their links as well.
- Leave a comment at the new recipients blogs, so they can pass it on.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Monday, September 01, 2008
These are very small socks--the "obvious" difference in size is about 3/8"--for the two smallest DGDs. I am planning to use the remainder for a pair for the older DGD, but I have ordered some green yarn for toes and heels, since I may be short on the Lion Brand Sockease. I spent a long time on these because I knit them twice. I had made them too small the first time. I hope these are fine.
Yarn review--The yarn was much less stringlike than the old Magic Stripes. The socks do not feel as thick and heavy. It was fairly easy on the hands to knit with, not surprising since it contains some aloe. The drawback was the matching. I am not fond of fraternal twins when it comes to self-striping yarn, but this was difficult to match. If you notice, I got the stripes matched on the pair on the right, but the bottom of the heel doesn't. The toe tip is little off as well. I don't think this would be a problem on adult socks because the stripes are so short that they would just be single lines of almost random color, rather than the definite multi-row stripes you get on these tiny ones. Will I buy the yarn again? I really want a pair of the orangey red colorway that the Yarn Harlot knitted, but I have a lot of sock yarn for myself. I liked the look of the yellow for the children. Otherwise, the color selection is not my cup of tea. I do think the socks will be comfortable and cozy from the way they washed up.
School has gone amazingly well. My dual-credit books did not get here on time, but I had alternate plans on tap. (One of the benefits of being an OLD teacher is that you have alternate plans for practically everything!) The computer system that was going to be new but then did not get installed before school from the software outfit got hooked up. The entire school is not on it yet. We can all take attendance, but the gradebook has not been explained to everyone. I was lucky, however, and was in sort of a pilot group so I have mine up and running. Because our senior class this year is small, I have an unusually small class load, and they seem to be really nice students. We'll see what the second week brings.
OTN--a pair of Maizy socks for myself.
Friday, August 29, 2008
I will post some knitting pics sometime this weekend.
I did, however, finish an audiobook in odd moments here and there. It's taken awhile because I was having some MP3 player difficulties. Tin Roof Blowdown, by James Lee Burke, is a Dave Robicheaux mystery set in New Orleans and the surrounding area right after Hurricane Katrina and during and after Rita. Some of the descriptions included in the book were heartrending. I wish I could believe it was all fictional, but I'm afraid much of it was based on fact. To finish reading it just as Gustav seems to be aiming for that area again is disconcerting.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Information and evaluation:
I knitted this following only the directions on the DVD by Meg Swensen. I took measurements and did not exactly follow the "multiples of ___" idea from the original instructions in my copy of Knitting Workshop. The yarn is my own handspun, spun mostly during the Tour de Fleece from Brown Sheep Mill Ends Roving. The edging is a handspun that I spun from some alpaca/wool pencil roving that I bought on etsy. The size is a 48" bust measurement with 2" negative ease.
I fulled the gray yarn with 4 hot-to-cold baths. I think that was too many. The vest will be really warm, but the yarn was so changed in texture that I could not make it slide across my fingers to knit continental. I had to pick up and throw every stitch. I could not even separate the plies to spit splice properly. It does give a nice body to the vest, however. When I blocked it, I used a wash of Eucalan with some hair conditioner added, and that seems to help some. I had originally intended to use a nice multicolor-on-gray handspun for the I-cord edging. The two grays were not compatible, so I pulled this black out of stash. It is probably a little bit too soft for the stiffness of the fulled gray yarn, but it worked although I couldn't approach the pretty perfection that Meg Swensen had on screen. I think the sizing is about right, but I would change the way I shaped the armholes. I did increases every 5 rows all the way down and then made up the rest of the inches needed in the underarm area. When I knit another one, I will do that kind of increase about halfway down the armhole and then increase about every 3 rows or 2 rows so that more of the shaping will be in the front and back instead of just under the arm. I do really like the classic simplicity of this pattern. I would like to make another out of some really eyepopping colorful yarn.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
After fretting about the alterations to the ribwarmer and the weird form my pieces were taking, I worked like crazy this morning to get it to a trying on point. I had to come up with some way to attach the back to the front at the shoulders, so this is what I did. I left the flexible Knit Picks Options in the back and picked up the front shoulder stitches and the neck on another needle and left it in as well. Then I loosely crocheted the two needle cords together with a single crochet. I did not bother matching stitch to stitch, but just crocheted every three or four stitches. Then I tried it on. I am actually fairly pleased. The back looks great. The front sides over the bust are a little narrow. I should have increased more, perhaps two stitches on each increase rather than one, beginning halfway down. I'm going to put that in my notes. If, however, I wear this as an open vest, it will look fine, so I'm not going to bother with fastenings. The garter stitch gives the fabric a nice drape. So, now it's on to the I-cord. I had planned to use some beautiful handspun from some Spunky Eclectic roving, but I've discovered the grays clash, so I'm being brave and using some black alpaca/wool that I spun awhile back. At least I'm not going to need to frog the whole thing. Of course, I still have to get that I-cord edging on.
A second yippee--
Yes, that is GREEN moss on a tree. For those of you in other parts of the country, this may not be exciting, but in the Texas Panhandle, we don't see too much of that because our weather is much too dry. Of course, this tree has moss all the time on its north side, but it's mostly a grayish brown. However, we have had three or four days of heavy rain--for us that's 1-2 inches per day. We are on flash flood watch right now, which is great. Rain now means that the corn crop probably won't need another watering and that moisture levels will be great for planting winter wheat which will be used for pasture for cattle this winter and harvested early next summer. We're not farmers, but this is money in the pockets of everyone in the community. Thank you, God!
Yippee #3--Great job by Michael Phelps. However, all the reminiscing reminded me how "hot" all we single young things thought that Mark Spitz looked in '72. I think we were all quite taken with the photos in Life. Looking at the films now, it's hard to see past the hair. Isn't it funny how your perspective changes with the years?
And the best yippee of all--I got to share, and share, and share one of my favorite board books with my DGD last night. Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb was a favorite of my own children, and little M enjoyed the drumming as much as they did.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Saturday, August 09, 2008
- My audiobook would not play on my MP3 player so I had to drive all the way without fiction.
- The meeting start time had been moved up 30 minutes, and I hadn't been notified, so I was late. Other people had the same problem, but it was still irritating.
- I was spending two nights in a hotel, and I forgot my nightgown.
- I carefully packed a ball of sock yarn, a stitch pattern, and a circular needle in my really cute blue brocade sock bag, so that I would look really impressive knitting in public, only to discover I had packed one very short circ. Couldn't make a sock.
- I did get a lot of reading done at the hotel, finishing a Kathy Reichs novel I had already started and starting and finishing another one.
- I had an excuse to buy a new nightie, and I haven't done that in awhile.
- The schedulers announced two different start times for the second day as well, which just made them look stupid instead of me because everyone noticed.
- In the very short period of time that I had my yarn out, another teacher saw me, asked what I was doing, and then pulled her project out of her bag. She was doing a baby blanket for an expected grandson in Swedish Embroidery on monk's cloth. I had seen pictures, but I'd never seen the real thing. I had always thought the cloth would be stiff, but it was incredibly soft. She was copying one that her grandmother had made for the baby's father. She insisted on sending me away with a complete copy of the directions. All I need is one more fiber hobby!
Other good things--Gretchen Bernabei, the consultant for the conference, was excellent. She really helped us in targeting writing strategies to improve student writing and to work toward higher test scores. My favorite quote--"You don't fatten a chicken by weighing it every week."
Other good things--
- a presentation by the education director at the American Quarter Horse Museum and Hall of Fame. They have a really interesting writing project that I think we can use. I also got to examine an interesting artifact--an antique braided horsehair bridle--very fine work in four colors.
- a short workshop on using Microsoft Office Photo Story. I've already thought of a jillion ways to use this program in the classroom and personally.
- watching the opening ceremony from Beijing
- spending time with my family and granddaughters. Only one granddaughter is in this picture. Guess what she wants to be for Halloween?
This picture was made at the Red Robin restaurant. Back when television was brand new in Amarillo, one of the early daytime local variety programs was hosted by a man named Gordon Suits whose nickname was the Red Robin. He used the song as a theme song.
Note: The trip made me late in beginning my Ravelympics project, but I cast on tonight, and I'm ready to start the short rows on the first side of the ribwarmer.
Sidenote--I'm using the DVD from Meg Swensen. I watched it through on the DVD player in the living room a couple of weeks ago, but tonight I put it on the computer so that I could have the Olympics on the television. I noticed that there are extras to click on that I either did not see before or else they didn't show up on the television screen. I think I'll get my Knitting Workshop DVD out and see if it is the same way.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
There is an even smaller town nearby that has really good prices on gasoline, probably because the owner of most of the convenience stores in a two-state area considers it his home and sells cheap--I'm not sure. We were going through there last weekend and filled up for $3.62. We were through there again yesterday and decided to top off our tank from the week before with gas that was $3.75. There was a line of sorts, so we picked the shortest one--a car and a pickup were in front of us. We were third. We dutifully turned off the ignition, rolled down our windows, and waited patiently for our turn. As soon as the pickup pulled ahead, we drove up to the pump. A woman had driven in from the other direction after we got in line, but she was much further back than we were. No one was in line behind us, so she could get in line there, but evidently that did not satisfy her. While my DH was out on the driver's side of the car getting the gas, she pulled up by my side on the way to get in line and began shouting. Isn't it amazing how inarticulate human beings can be when they are in a rage? I only understood the shaking fist and the f-word--everything else was garbled. We got our 8 gallons or so and drove away, but I still felt I had lost something. The week before, everyone in line had been laughing and joking because they were happy about the price.
The new author is Kathy Reichs. The book is Bones to Ashes, a forensic mystery. I understand that her character is the basis for the Fox series Bones, but other than the name and the fact that the character is a forensic anthropologist, I didn't see much similarity. This is the sort of book that makes me wish my French was better. In fact, it's almost nonexistent, considering how many years it's been since college and how little use I've had for it in the meantime. In spite of that, however, the plot was riveting, and the characters were developed. I was reminded of some of the early Patricia Cornwell books. I only hope that this author does not descend into the darkness and weirdness that seem to characterize much of Cornwell's later works. The setting of the French part of Canada also makes the book more entertaining for me because this is an area that I know very little about. If only a little knitting were included. . . .
Note: I've agonized over was/were in that last sentence and decided on the subjunctive. There are times when being an English teacher is maddening.
The other book was A Killer Stitch by Maggie Sefton. This is a Knitting Mystery. I've enjoyed two previous books in the series, finding them entertaining, light-hearted, "cozy," reading. I found this book, however, to be less than I expected. For one thing, the plot was weak, I thought. Most of the action seemed to consist of one woman telling another something and saying be sure you don't tell anyone. Then the hearer would immediately decide that for the good of the person being talked about, she needed to tell another person, and so on. Reading this book was like spending a day as a high school--or worse, junior high school--girl again. I definitely expected more for my money and my time. There is obviously a setup for another book at the end of this one. I hope that book is better because we need all the good knitting series that we can get.
On the knitting front, I finished reknitting one of the DGD socks last night.
Friday, August 01, 2008
Grandchildren grow entirely too fast!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
As a total sideline, my curiosity was aroused by a couple of side issues in the book—I’m irritating that way. First of all, the book is set in Montana. The Bitteroot Mountains are mentioned often, as well as other Bitteroot geographical features. The reader pronounces the word “Bitterit.” Is that correct? I need to know this because I just can’t stand not knowing it when I begin kntting my new Mountain Colors Bearfoot socks! Secondly, most books not actually set in the Texas Panhandle that need to refer to our part of the country refer to Amarillo or perhaps Plainview, I think because they like that name for some reason. This novel referred to Dumas—pronounced “Doomus”—Dalhart, and Texline. I don’t know if the author simply looked at a map for interesting names when making up the background of a character or if he has some connection to our area. See? My mind is definitely weird.
When I explore more of this writer’s work, I do hope that the relationship between the main character and his wife is explored more fully. The background sounds interesting.
Spinning content—I am working hard on spinning thinner. That also means that it takes much longer to spin up a certain amount of fiber! This is my progress so far on roving that I had in stash from the Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club. (English teacher note: Should that be spinning more thinly? That sounds stuffy. Make it spinning thinner yarn.)
Knitting Content—a pair of socks for ME! These are from some OnLine Highland Color that I had in stash. I know they will be comfy because I made them just like my others from the same yarn. These are about as neutral as you can get—black and brown and gray and beige. That’s what I needed. I apologize for the perspective in the picture. I have to squeeze objects into this lightbox to get correct colors when shooting indoors, and right now the mosquitoes are giving me such fits outside that I am not inclined to be out there taking artsy shots. After a few more days of dry weather, things will be better. I am knitting some more exciting socks now, but no more information until I am finished. Then I have to swatch madly for the Ravelympics.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Here are the rules:
1. List these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog.
** I teach at the same high school from which I graduated. It was a brand new building back then.
** I spend most of my free time knitting, reading, or on the internet. Occasionally I do housework, but only when necessary!! (Yes, Deb, I copied this one from you.)
**I spent summers in college doing mission work in Sacramento and in Guam.
** I ‘ve been married for 30 years to a wonderful man that I’ve known all my life. Somewhere in my closet I have a hand-carved bow and knife—wooden toy—that he carved for me when we were children. He burned my name on the knife with a magnifying glass.
** I have two wonderful grown children with families of their own. That means 4 really sweet and INTERESTING grandchildren—two 5 year olds and two 1 ½ year olds.
** As I approach retirement, my ambitions are to teach a junior college class or two and to have more time for my church, some volunteer duties, and lots of time to be a grandmother. Of course, I’ll keep knitting in between.
**I would also like to travel, but I’m not sure where. I find that I no longer like to “go” just for the sake of going.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Now for a review of the audiobook. I found the first hour or two rather tedious. For one thing, many, many characters were being introduced, and it was rather clear that finding voices for that many characters was a difficult job for any reader. Once the main story lines really developed, however, I felt the reader did a really good job. He even managed to infuse the text with suitable humor. The parrot was wonderful! The little interludes with news reports about developments in genetics were just right. The remainder of the story moved very quickly, it seemed, and I was very pleased with it. That, of course, does not include my own "dream" additions, which would not have improved the story at all because the characters would have been in a fix they couldn't get out of.
While listening this afternoon, I did a couple of hours of spinning. I'm trying for a much thinner single than I have been spinning, and I hope to Navajo ply it to keep the color changes for something that I have in mind. The roving I'm using is some Falkland wool from the Spunky Fiber Club. I was rather lonely, since my DGD has been here a couple of days this week. It was quiet without a baby around even though she usually takes a very long nap.
I think the news yesterday inspired me, with the video from Japan of the zookeepers' trying to tranquilizer dart a chimpanzee, and the ape's grabbing the gun away from them--but I'm not sure.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Spinning--I think I have completed my spinning project for the Tour de Fleece. Here is the completed yarn. The hand-wound, non-center-pull balls are from skeins I hopelessly tangled in the fulling process. The fact that I got them straightened out at all was due to the patience of my DH, who is my yarn swift. By my count, I have 450-500 yards of heavy worsted, and I think that should be enough. If it isn’t, I do have roving to spin more. I am really pleased with the effect the fulling had on this yarn, but I’ve discovered that I need somewhat thicker rubber gloves for that hot water!
I have joined the Ravelympic group, and my project is to knit the ribwarmer during those days. I think I should be able to pull it off, particularly since swatching counts as training and can be done ahead of time. I usually do not enjoy the summer Olympics as much as I do the winter ones. What I enjoy most about the Olympics is seeing the sports one never gets to see, like curling and the luge. I have nothing against track and field, baseball, and basketball, but I can see those almost any time. I do like the gymnastics and the water sports. I think I also remember coming home from school as a very young teacher, flipping on the television in my apartment to watch, and seeing the horror of events unfolding in Munich. I’m always just a little bit nervous.
Knitting—I finished the scarf for the Red Scarf Project. This is the Yarn Harlot’s pattern, but I made it a little wider and longer to meet the requirements for the project. The yarn is Wool Ease Red Sprinkles. Considering the goal of the project, I think that machine washable and dryable is a plus. The stitch pattern actually shows up very well, but I had difficulty making that show in a photograph. It is a great textured pattern, and I think it would work well even as an afghan stitch, provided that you had some color variation. The stitch is so easy that it would get boring over a long unbroken period.
Next I need to do some swatching for the ribwarmer and some concentrated sock knitting. In reviewing my Fiber Goals for this year, I see that I have become distracted by new ideas and projects, so I want to get back on track.
I am also excited because there is supposed to be a knitting meeting in our area on the 28th. I even have hotel reservations so that I don’t have to drive back after the meeting! Whee!
Books--By my count I’ve completed the Ravelry Book Challenge of reading 50 books for the year. Of course, bookworm that I am, I will continue reading and listening to books, but I am only going to review and/or list the ones I really like or that I think are a unique read. Sometimes if I don’t care for a book, it’s hard for me to say anything without appearing to flame it, and the purpose of this blog is not defending my opinions, but simply to share things that I enjoy.
I have listened to 2 audio books recently while I have been busy spinning and knitting and doing some housework. The first was Last Shot by Gregg Hurwitz. This book was a little bit too hard boiled for me, but the back story was thought provoking. I just do not like prison stories, prison movies, stories about prison escapes. That’s a matter of personal taste.
The second book was The Hard Way: Jack Reacher Series, Book 10. This series was recommended by LizzieK8. Even though this thriller was every bit as violent as the other book, I found it more comfortable. The reason I started with Book 10 is that was what was available on my local Overdrive. I will choose to read more of these. The audiobook reader was also really good. The character of Reacher is similar to the old Western hero who materializes mysteriously to save the day and then disappears after the violence is over, leaving order restored.
What I would love to have available on audio are books in the mystery series such as the books by Earlene Fowler, Susan Wittig Albert, Monica Ferris, and others. I do enjoy the Elizabeth Peters novels as well. I do, however, prefer to limit my listening to unabridged audio, so that eliminates some choices. Also, because, I'm basically cheap--yarn money, you know--I prefer to get my books from Overdrive rather than pay for them, so that also limits my choices. In some ways, this limitation has had a positive result, leading me to writers and books that I probably would not have explored otherwise, but in other ways, it is frustrating.