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Monday, December 28, 2009

Blogging Break

I've missed my Friday post this week because of Christmas. Likewise, I'm heading out of town today to meet with my roommates, so I doubt I'll have time to really post today. Regular blogging schedule will resume Friday, perhaps with a surprise for New Years :) Hope every one had a wonderful Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Two Shameless Plugs

First, for myself and the Track Shack Blog I help run.

I've rewritten "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" Track Shack-style, and would like to encourage you to go read it on the blog. My Dad laughed so hard when he read it that he choked on chip, so I figure it must be halfway decent. (And Re: the new blog disclosure laws, I work for Track Shack, but I don't get anything for advertising their blog).

Second, for an Orlando Sentinel columnist I usually disagree with.

I generally can't read Mike Thomas' articles without getting angry, but his column today was amazing, and I think I agree with every word. I like supporting print, so if you can get a hold of a hard copy of the Sentinel, I'd encourage you to do so. Otherwise, you can read his column online here.

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! May it be filled with joy, and family, and not too much stress.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Holiday and Christmas

I don't mind stores celebrating the "Holidays" instead of Christmas. In fact, I myself wish people a "Happy Holiday" if I don't know their religious beliefs. Why? Well, for the simple reason that not everyone celebrates Christmas. And that's okay. In the following post, I'm going to get up on my soapbox (just a small one, though) and share what I see to be the difference between the Holiday and Christmas. And why I celebrate both (C.S. Lewis wrote a satyrical piece on this topic, which you can find here if you're interested).

Christmas
What is Christmas? I asked my Sunday School class this and the most common answer I received was "Jesus' Birthday" (one girl pointed out that Jesus was actually born on Christmas Eve). Whether or not Jesus was historically born on December 25th, Christmas, derived from "Christ Mass" is the day that church commemorates the birth of the Saviour (incidentally, my protestant Sunday-schoolers didn't know what "mass" was...except for one girl who said it was how much something weighed).

Christmas, for me, is a religious day. A holiday in the true sense of the word, "holy day". The culminating moment of Christmas is the Christmas Eve service, a celebration of birth of Christ, but also a solemn reminder that, as on Christmas song remind us, the shadow of the cross lay over his cradle. All of which is to say that I find Christmas to be a far cry from Santas and trees and lights.

The Holiday
If Christmas is not Santas and trees and lights, then the Holiday is. And I admit that I am taking leeway with the word "holiday" and am using it in its modern sense of a celebration, or a vacation from everyday life.

The Holiday has many traditions, like exchanging gifts, decorating everything in sight and, my personal favourite, Christmas Music (I have a pretty lame music collection, but I'm pretty proud of the over 10 hours of Christmas music I have on my computer).

What is important to keep in mind, though often overlooked by those who protest the replace of "Christmas" with "Holiday", is that the Holiday is itself not without meaning. The Holiday is time to come together with friends and family. It's time of celebration, and also a time of reflection on the past year. The Holiday is also a time when we remember the best of what humans are capable of, when people come together to help the less fortunate, and remember those who can't be with families.

And so, I wish you all a Happy Holiday, and a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Oops...

Go so caught up in my knitting today I forgot to post....mea culpa. On the bright side, one more project is done!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Short Fibre Friday

Christmas knitting continues...and it looks like I'm might actually make it (knitting gods, please note I said "might").

I actually do have a post, but I'm totta;y beat. It was a good day, but long, and I need my beauty sleep. Look for a proper post on the 'morrow.

Good night!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tilting at Windmills (And Other Metaphors for my Life)

Tilting at windmills. That's what I feel like I've been doing today. Of course, the thing about fighting windmills is that, while to everyone else they're just windmills, to the person doing the fighting they are, in fact, giants.

*****

Or fighting a Hydra. That's what my to-do list has seemed like today. Every time I finish a project, three more pop into place to replace it. They way to defeat a Hydra, is, of course, to burn its head(s), but as my to-do list is saved on my computer, victory through such means comes at too hight a price.

*****

But there was one calm moment. You know how when the AC is on, and you don't realize how much noise it was making until it suddenly clicks off? My day had that constant roar of pressure to it. Phones were ringing off the hook, e-mail kept coming in, and of course there's always the constant feeds coming in from social media sites. I got home feeling stressed and overwhelmed, when I plugged in the lights on the Christmas tree. "Click". It was the like the AC turning off in my head. Suddenly, for a brief moment, all was silent. It didn't last, but it was nice. (Yes, it's mid-December and we have the AC on.)

*****

Unrelated: I'm looking for a home for my rats, Knit and Spindle. They are healthy, very friendly, and use to people. Rats are highly intellegent and make good pets. My Mom is allergic to them, and while they've been living outside, its too humid here for me to keep them there. They are free to a good home, along with their cage and supplies.

Friday, December 11, 2009

How I Became a (minor) Ravelry Sensation

It started innocently enough. My great-Aunt Joan, who passed away a few years ago, published several knitting patterns in her lifetime. And ever since I started knitting, I've wondered what became of those patterns, and if I could track some of them down. So, I decided who better to help than the knitting and crochet community at Ravelry.com? (Ravelry, for those of you who are knitting muggles, is like a Facebook for fibre artists. Only much, much better. If you are not a knitting muggle, but aren't on Ravelry, Go. Join. Now.)

So, on the "Patterns" discussion board in Ravelry's forum, I made a post entitled "The Search for Great Aunt Joan's Patterns" and followed it with a list of pretty much everything I know about my great-aunt, which isn't very much. Well, within the first five minutes, I had a post from someone who had found a hat pattern by Joan called "Alice's Hat". I couldn't believe it. Alice is my grandma, Joan's sister. It grew from there, with people tracking down my great-aunts pattern, or just stopping by to wish me luck in my search. My post was even mentioned in the Ravelry newsletter.

It has been incredible how many people have reached out to me to help me to knit together these pieces of family history, and I just wanted to share that with you all.

*****

A quick Christmas knitting update:

It continues. Desperately. I'm hoping that I won't be giving any gifts still on the needles, but that might be happening. I'm knitting non-stop. I've even given up spinning until Christmas, despite the lovely new soysilk fibre I have from @yarn2spin. I've reached a whole new level of KIPping (Knitting In Public), having even gone so far as knitting while taking a walk around my block (yep, I can walk and knit), knitting during the class changes at school, and knitting at the drive-thru. I haven't given up hope of completing everything just yet.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

So...

Yes, I know. I missed my Monday blog. And I can't blame it on the internet, busy-ness, or anything other than a pure lack of motivation which seems to be a virus I've caught that is quickly spreading to all areas of my life. *sigh*

But I decided to write every Monday and, later, every Friday, to combat exactly that disease. And skipping out on the cure will only make things worse.

Doing much of anything is a struggle for me right now, and I'm not sure why. I had thought I was past all this, but apparently I wasn't. But I am determined that I will get through it. So, please forgive me for the abruptness of my post today, but it is the best I can do right now.

Happy Holidays everyone! I am going to try to get up at least a few Christmas stories/post like I've done in the past this year.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Early Morning

I'm up early tomorrow to run the OUC 5k with my running buddy from Girls on the Run, so I'm off to bed. But first...

Tonight was the last episode of Monk. I've spent many hours of my life with Monk, watching his show almost every Friday, procrastinating on my papers while watching Monk marathons, and of course, knitting  with my roommates.

Goodbye, Mr. Monk. You will be missed. I was hoping you'd make it to an even 10 seasons, but it was not to be.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dear Internet...Grrr!

I missed my Monday post last night. It wasn't my fault. My internet was out again. Grrr. That being said, it seems I have fallen behind a bit in posting, so instead of nice coherent post, I'm going to write several little posts tonight.

Steve-an update

I talked about Steve last week in my first Thanksgiving Post and just wanted to hive an update. His surgery went well, and they didn't have to use the radiation seeds they thought they would. Hopefully, the doctors got all the cancer out, but it will be a bit of wait-and-see while he heals.

Turkey Trot

I ran the Turkey Trot 5k this weekend (and once again missed meeting Robin in person :( ). The Turkey Trot was my first 5k, at age 8 (and no, I won't tell you how many years ago that was) and so I thought that it would be fitting, since I've been training, to try to run a PR (personal record) at the race this year. And.... I did it! 30:55! That's a sub 10-minute mile the whole way :D. I never would have made it on my own, though. By chance, I ended up running with a mother and her daughter (who was doing her first 5k) who were running the same pace of me. Without their encouragement and help pacing, I would have given up and walked. I normally use run-walk intervals, but I ran the race the whole way. It was hard, but so worth it. And as the mother told her daughter, "Lots of people may be faster than us, but it doesn't mean they're working harder than us". So true! 30:55 might sound pretty slow to a lot of people, but it took everything I had in me to do it.

Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving in my house is always a little odd, since our tradition involves putting on a race for several thousand people (pre-cooked turkey is a must). This year, Thanksgiving was smaller than usual, with all my grandparents being out of time. But at least one tradition remained the same: my Mom insisted we attempt to make gravy, even though none of us really like it, believing that if we don't make gravy on Thanksgiving, my brother and I will be missing out on something important (at least I think that her belief).

Grad School


I'm still working on my grad school applications...barely. Its been really hard for me to work on them, and I think I'm still afraid of going through the rejection I went through last time. The deadlines are coming up, though, so I really need to focus on them. I just find myself feeling stressed out and overwhelmed every time I think about them. I could use any encouraging thoughts and prayers you can send my way.

Christmas Knitting


Continues....so many projects, so little time. But knitting keeps me sane, so its a good thing.

Well, that's all for tonight folks. In the words of Samuel Pepys, "And so...to bed".

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Belated Fibre Friday

I missed my normal Fibre Friday post last night for a very good reason...my internet was done. But now its back! Yay!

Sooo....in a Christmas knitting update, I've finished one of my projects! This should mean that I only have two things left to knit, but my brother, contemplating the completed Finished Object (which shall not be identified until after it has been given to the intended recipient), said "You know, you knit a lot better than when you made me that awful hat".

"Yeah, that was pretty bad," I agreed. C.'s hat had been one of my earliest projects. It was round, which is about the only way it resembled a hat.

C. continued to contemplate the FO. "I better you could make a better one now."

"Probably."

"You're knitting gifts for a lot of people in the family, aren't you?"

"Yep." And than I got it. C. wants me to knit him a hat for Christmas. So now I have three remaining projects. I don't mind the chance to redeem my last hat.

As for the FO that I knitted, it was really fun, and really fast (You can find the patter on my Ravelry page, under "Christmas Project 2"). The design was ingenious, though it took me almost until the end to realize how it worked (I'm still learning how to mentally translate the pattern into an image of the finished object).

The only problem was that I knitted it with slightly thicker yarn than that pattern called and I had some trouble getting gauge. The pattern said 15 stitches should equal four inches on size 10 needles. So I cast on 20 stitches onto size 8 needles (you should always cast on more stitches than you need so you can measure the middle ones), and proceeded to knit a small sample swatch. I could immediately see that it was too bit, so even though I'd thought I might have to go up, not down, a needle sized, I dropped to a 7. Still too big. Throughly confused, I casted onto a size 6, deciding that since on this pattern it was better to be to big than too small, I wouldn't go down another size even if gauge wasn't perfect. I casted on 20 stitches...and it hit me. 20 stitches. I had been stupidly measuring all 20 stitches, instead of just the middle 15. *sigh*. I pulled out my size 9 needles, casted on 20, knit a swatch, measure the inner 15 stitches and...perfect.  And way more work than it should have been.

Well, I'm now behind at least one post, on running the Turkey Trot, which I'll try to put up tomorrow. I also have three more Christmas projects to get done. But tomorrow is Sunday, and on Sunday,  I spin :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Today I'm Thankful for...(Part 4)

The Little Things
A List in no particular order

1. My family and friends
2. My health
3. Being able to knit
4. Being able to run
5. My family's health
6. Having a place to live
7. Having a job
8. Being able to work with children at school
9. My rats (Purl passed away, for those of you don't know. I have new rat named Spindle)
10. My yarn stash
11. My fibre stash
12. Having a running buddy
13. Getting to see the sunrise on my morning run
14. The way everything smells after it rains
15. The orchid that bloomed yesterday
16. That the sky is blue (I don't think any other colour would have worked)
17. How babies smell (My Dad calls it the "new person" scent)
18. Good climbing trees
19. Music and art
20. Love

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Today I'm Thankful For.... (Part 3)

Knitting and Running
I know these sound like strange things to be thankful for, but bear with me dear readers, and you will understand why I chose to write about them (I hope).


Knitting


I mentioned in my last post that this past summer was hard for me, but I didn't really go into the details. While struggling to adjust to my new life as not-a-college-student, I stopped doing two of my favourite things...reading and writing. Instead, all I did was watch TV on Hulu. I've never been one to watch much TV, but I found myself easily watching a whole season of Stargate SG-1 in a week. I was searching for distractions, and I found it in TV, when I had previously found it in books.

My brain should have turned into mush from watching all those TV shows, but for one thing. While I was watching TV, I was knitting. And it was knitting that eventually got me away from my computer screen and out spending time with other people. Ann, the owner of The Black Sheep suggested I join Ravelry (think Facebook for knitters and crocheters), and through that site I found the knitting group that helped me find my feet again and start pursuing the things I enjoyed.

Running

Besides knitting, running was the one other thing I did besides watching TV. And like knitting, running helped me to start socializing with others. Most important, running led to me making a friend, my running buddy V.

But more than that, running and knitting are reminders. I can knit because I have the luxury of extra time and money to spend on my hobby. And I can run because my body is healthy and strong. And those things are both worth being thankful for.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Today I'm Thankful For.... (Part 2)

Having a Job




Those of you who know me well know I’ve had a tough summer. For a long time now I’d planned to go straight into graduate school after college, and when I wasn’t accepted to any of the schools I applied to (except one, but with no funding), it was very difficult for me to come to terms with my situation.

I felt, besides being hurt, angry. It seemed to me that I had suffered a great injustice. I had worked hard. I had gotten good grades. I had taken the classes I needed to take. I deserved to be in graduate school.

Deserved. What a funny word. Who ever said anyone deserved anything? Who are we to judge that? Even in what I perceived as my misfortune, I was blessed.  I had a place to live, even if it did mean moving back in with my parents. And even though I hadn’t been able to find a full-time teaching job, I was able to get a part-time job as a tutor, and another part-time job doing social media and marketing. I was aware of this, and yet my hurt at not having gotten into graduate school left me unable to acknowledge my blessings.

But now I can. It’s still hard, but I’ve finally gotten out of the mindset that I’ve suffered an injustice.  I can be hurt and disappointed, yes, but I have no right to angry. Not when I hear every day about another person losing their job, or struggling to make ends meet. I’m blessed. Very, very blessed. And for that, I am thankful. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Today I'm Thankful For.... (Part 1)

I've decided that from now until Thanksgiving I'm going to write a post each day about something I'm thankful for. So today I'm thankful for....


The Lesson I Learned from Steve
In Two Parts


Part One: The Shawl


I first met Steve in my knitting group. He was, at the time (and still is) working with two giant skeins of yarn that had been given to him. One skein was pink, the other green, both in shades that don't actually exist in nature but can be found on kitchen appliances of a certain past decade. The colours were, in short, complimentary only in the sense that they could both be found sharing a kitchen in the '70's.

But Steve, for a couple of weeks, worked on knitting a shawl out of these skeins in alternating squares of pink in green. Curious about who he could be making such a shawl for, I asked him.

"I'm making it as a prayer shawl", he said. "I'll probably give it to a church to give to someone who needs it."Which, I thought, was very nice, but, to be honest, I wondered about what the future recipient would think about the colour scheme.

About a week after this, I was in my church parking lot heading into the building when I caught a flash of green and pink out if the corner of my eye. I turned to look and there, unmistakably, was Steve's shawl getting out of a car. I started to greet him, when I realized it wasn't Steve wearing the shawl, it was C.. C. was a woman in my church who had recently been diagnosed with cancer.

I went over to greet C., but it was really the shawl I focusing on. It matched C. perfectly. In fact, if Steve had known C. his whole life, he could not have made a shawl that suited her better. It reminded that everything has a place and everything has a purpose.

Part two: The Diagnosis


This part concerns a young woman, whom I know very, very well, and shall call, for the sake of this story, "Emily" (Think about it. This isn't a hard one.).

Emily had had a rough weekend. A rough week, actually. She had made some decisions that were hard to make, and was looking for comfort, and maybe advice from her knitting the group. But if she was honest with herself, what she really wanted was attention. She wanted people to agree that she had had a rough week, and to feel bad on her behalf. In short, she felt selfish, and worse, she felt she was entitled to feel that way.

Shortly after she arrived at her knitting group, Steve commented that he'd had a bad week, and for no one to be offended he got up and left early. Emily took that comment as her cue.

"I bet I had the worse week," she announced, and then proceeded to enumerate they ways in which her week had been bad. After she had finished, and basked in what she felt was her deserved sympathy, someone (Emily would like to think it had been her, but couldn't remember) asked Steve what happened during his week.

Steve paused before answering. "I was diagnosed with cancer in my hip."

And that moment, Emily realized that she'd been so caught up in her own problems, that she had failed to notice those of the people around her.

***

Steve will have radiation seeds placed on his hip tomorrow with the hope of killing the cancer. They will, fittingly enough, be remove on Thanksgiving. And in the meantime, Emily...I mean I, have learned what it means to think about others. To serve others with my gifts, and to stop and be thankful for especially the little things in life.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Christmas Knitting Continues

Um...yeah. That's pretty much it in the fibre world for me at the moment. I might have a post Sunday, though.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Go Ahead, I *Dare* You


Yesterday, I ran my second 10k at the Celebration Health Founders' Day 10k (6.2 mi) and 5k (3.1 mi). (My first was the Disney Race for the Taste, which I wrote about here). My first 10k had been run on a whim, when, 2 weeks away from the race, my running partner, V., suggested we run it. At that point, we had only run 4 miles, and really had to push our training to make the distance. But this 10k we were ready for.

The weather beautiful, and from the moment V. and I lined up, we knew it was going to be a good run. We ran 5-1 intervals, meaning we ran for 5 minutes, then walked for a minute. For our first 10k, we averaged about 13 minute mile pace, so I was excited to see us finish the first mile in 12 minutes. And even more excited to pass mile 2 at 24 minutes, and mile three at 36 (I have somehow become the official time/interval keeper on our runs).

By the time we passed mile 4 at 48 minutes, I knew, short of a disaster, V. and I were going to PR (Personal Record), possibly by as much as 6 minutes.

Unfortunately, halfway through mile four, I found myself struggling to maintain my pace. I was running with a cold, and it was starting to take a toll on me. V. saw I was struggling, and tried her best to encourage me. Right in front of us was a man wearing a Navy shirt, and V., who was in the Army, turned to me and said "Now, see that man? You know I can't let him beat me." I managed to push up my pace to pass him, but found that my legs just physically couldn't move faster. "Go on ahead", I told V. "I'll meet you at the finish" (which was important in more ways than one).

V. took off, and I walked for a little while. Then, just before mile 5, I got a second wind, and picked my pace back up. I continued to push myself through the last mile, though not too much (you'll know why I was saving my energy soon). As I cam up on mile 6, with just .2 miles to go, I saw the Navy guy again and grinned. I knew I could beat him. I picked up my pace, and passed him just before crossing the finish line with a PR of 1:15:42, 5 minutes off my last 10k! I was thrilled, but the day wasn't over.

You see, the day after Race for the Taste, V. texted me to say "I have a crazy idea- Celebration Health Distance Dare". And while I don't remember ever actually agreeing to do the Distance Dare, both V. and I had the hot pink stickers on our race numbers that designated DD participants. What is the Distance Dare? It's a new feature of the Track Shack Grand Prix Series that allows people to run both distances. Yep. Both. Hence me saving my energy on the 10k. Because after I finished and met up with V., we headed over to the start of the 5k.

I don't have much to say about the 5k. V. and I both ran our own pace, at 5-1 intervals, and almost finished at the same time. I took it easy, but felt really good during it. If I hadn't been saving my energy for the 5k, I could have probably knocked another minute or two off my 10k. I also made the rather interesting discovery that a 5k is a very short race...at least after running a 10k. My total time for the full 15k came out to 1:53:45. Not bad, considering the farthest V. and I had run before the race was 6.5 miles.

Shout-outs to fellow bloggers and Celebration Health runners Morgan and Robin.

And now, to bed. I'm still tired, and my legs are still very angry at me.

P.S. Sorry about any typos. I'm too sleepy to go back and fix them right now.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Start of Christmas Knitting

My Birthday yesterday resulted in a set of Knit Picks Harmony Options interchangeable needles, and the first ever gift card to be sold at the Black Sheep, which was promptly redeemed for a yarn swift (thingy that holds your hanks of yarn so you can wind it into a ball). I no longer have any excuse to avoid my Christmas knitting.

I have several projects on the needles, including a sock (one is done), a scarf, a bag, and some things that can't be mentioned here becuase their intended recipients read my blog.

Well, thats it. A short post tonight, as its late, and I'm tired. May you all be as warm as my rats in their pile of alpaca fibre.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Concerning Birthdays

A Somewhat Disconnected Rambling

I remember a time in my life when my parents used to allow me to have as many people over at my birthday party as I was years. So, when I was 7, I had seven friends over, and so on. With childhood naivete, I looked forward to when I was older. Just think how many friends I could invite when I was older! 16! 18! 20!

Birthdays are very odd things. A celebration of the individual, a holiday of the self, a recognition that you have been alive one more year. And as my next birthday approaches, I wonder what it is that is really being celebrated.

At their root, there is a serious reason for all holidays and festivals. Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ,  Easter His resurrection. Many countries have Independence Days, to commemorate the birth of their nations. Even Halloween is really All Hallows Eve, the day before All Saints Day, and before that, it was the harvest festival of Samhain.

But birthdays...birthdays are something different. Only rarely do they celebrate someone great, someone who has done something worthwhile. And yet they are celebrated with the same traditions we celebrate our significant holidays with. We celebrate with feasting, with gifts, with the gathering of friend and families. But why? Are birthdays just a selfish way of declaring oneself to be important? Or worse, are they merely a celebration mediocrity? Or are they something else entirely?

Perhaps birthdays are simply (and yet, how wonderful simple can be sometimes!) a celebration of life. A recognition that however little, or much, you have done, your life is worth something. You have a value. And that worth, that value, is worth celebrating.

For the first time I can remember, I've not been looking forward to my birthday this year. There seems so little to celebrate, so little I have done that is worth recognizing, so little to make me worth my own holiday. But if birthdays are something more than a celebration of the individual, if they are a celebration of life, of purpose, then I need to change my attitude to that of the Mad Hatter, and not just celebrate once a year, but celebrate every day.

Happy Un-Birthday, everyone!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Update

So, I have to confess, I haven't been knitting as much as usual. I've been spinning.

I finished spinning the alpaca fibre I was working on for a friend (no pics...I want it to be a surprise), and it came out really well. Not perfect, but very good. Besides, if you want perfect, by your yarn at a store.

I also ordered a new spindle and some milk protein silk from Silver Sun Alpacas. While I waited for my new fibre to come in, I got a little artistic with my drop spindle.



I now have my new spindle, a soprano Spindolyn, and it is amazing. Even before my fibre came in I enjoyed spinning it and watching it rotate in it's base. Spinning on it is addictive. Add to it that the fibre I'm working with gorgeous and incredibly soft, and its no surprise my knitting has been neglected.




See? Who could walk away from that? But I'm going to have to, or else my Christmas knitting will never get done.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: http://cmp.ly/0

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Track Shack Blog Nominated!

The Track Shack Blog has been nominated for the Orlando Sentinel's Orbbies Awards. You can vote for it once a day, every day until Nov. 20 for Best Sports Blog and Best Overall Blog. Vote at http://www.orlandosentinel2.com/data/orbbies/voting/?vote_for=172#172 or at the link on my sidebar, and spread the word. For those of you who don't know, I help run the Track Shack Blog. 

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: http://cmp.ly/4

Monday, November 2, 2009

On Reading the Iliad in the Laundry Room

Written 4-5-2009

Can words have a smell? A feel? A temperature? Because these words do to me. They smell like laundry detergent and fabric softener, with a faint hint of bleach, vinegar, and mildew. They feel warm, like the bathroom after a long shower. And though the meter of the Greek is lost in the translation, to me the words sing with the rhythmic thumping of dryers.


Or perhaps I have it backwards. Perhaps it is the smells and sounds of the laundry room that makes recollect the words. But whichever way it is, both bring the same image to mind.


It’s a freshman girl. She uncertain about how to deal with the tension of sharing a dorm room, and untrusting of leaving her laundry unattended. So she seeks refuge in the laundry room, searching for escape in the words of the book she has been assigned to read.


“Sing of rage”. The room is warm and comforting. Its atmosphere covers her like a blanket. “Of Peleus’ son, Achilles”.  The sickly sweet scent of detergent is familiar. It reminds her of her Grandma’s house. “And the will of Zeus be done” The thumping of the dryers seems loud at first, but soon becomes mesmerizing, drawing her deeper and deeper into the words she is reading. “You visionary of hell, never have I had fair play in your forecasts”.


Her laundry is finished, but she doesn’t leave. This room is safe. Even though other students pass through it to get their own laundry, it feels more private than her dorm-room. And so she stays.


And now, whenever that freshman, now a senior, walks into a laundry room, the words of that miraculous poem come back to her. The words that would help to shape the path she took on her journey through college. The words read in the laundry room. 

Friday, October 30, 2009

Another Poem

This week seems to have become poetry week. I wrote this about two years ago for a friend. And yes, I know it's a poem about knitting but the title is "Woven" and weaving and knitting aren't the same thing. Poetic licensee.


Woven

My needles catch the yarn.
around, back, slip.
Stitch by stitch the work before me grows.
around, back, slip.
Each completed row falls on my lap.
around, back, slip.

As soon as my hands know the pattern by heart,
around, back, slip.
I stop and look at what is done.
around, back, slip.
Then cast on and start again.
around, back, slip.

Each inch is one more finished,
around, back, slip.
And another inch to go.
around, back, slip.
The yarn runs out and I stop.
around, back, slip.

A new skein stands ready.
around, back, slip.
I weave in the ends and continue.
around, back, slip.
I know where I am going.
around, back, slip.

Wait and you will see it.
around, back, slip.
One day, before you know it.
around, back, slip.
It’s almost there.
around, back, slip.

My needles catch the yarn.
around, back, slip.
This pattern will not wait.
around, back, slip. 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Confession:

A Poem


I wrote this a few years for an activity the Christian organizations at my college did once called Love/Hate. As part of it, several members on the organizations were asked to write apologies or confessions to the student body.


To Whom It May Concern:
I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for every time I judged you,
acted on that judgment,
or condemned you in my mind.

I’m sorry for every harsh word I’ve spoken in anger,
in jealousy,
in hate.
And for all those that remained unspoken thoughts.

I’m sorry for talking when you needed me to listen,
and for staying silent
when you needed me to speak.

I’m sorry for thinking of myself when you needed a friend,
and for not being there when I said I would.

I’m sorry for every time I turned my back
when you needed me to stay.
And for every lie I’ve told,
and truth I’ve stretched.

I’m sorry for acting like all of this is about me,
as if you didn’t matter.

And most of all,

I’m sorry I waited so long to tell you this.



Friday, October 23, 2009

A Not-so-Secret Project

As some of you know, I've been collecting dyer lint with the intent of spinning it into yarn. I know this might sound kinda of odd, or maybe even gross, but if you think about, dryer lint is about as clean as a fibre as you can get - its fresh out of the wash. And it is a fibre, at least a fibre blend. Some sort of mix of cotton, acrylic, and whatever else you wash.

Anyways, while I'm still collecting dyer lint, I'm now starting to give some serious though as to the mechanics of spinning it. Lint has very short fibres, and since its a blend, they won't be very willing to stick together. It does work - I twisted a bit with my hands the other day - its just going to be challenging.

To that end, I have been doing some secret research on Ravelry's discussion boards. I'm not quite willing to own up on Ravelry that I'm going to attempt to spin dryer lint, so I've been very discreetly inquiring about spinning "a very fine cotton blend with very short fibres". From my inquiries, I have determined that I need:

1) hand-carders with a high ppsi (pins per a square inch), which I need to look around for (basically, I need to visit a bunch of Web sites* and find whose hand-carder has the highest ppsi). Hand-carders are used to brush the fibre so it all goes in the same direction.

2) A supported spindle. I love my drop spindle, but with the short and fragile fibres of the dryer lint, I'm going to need something that doesn't pull on the yarn until its fully spun. Today I did a little online searching on supported spindles, with no intent of purchasing one, when I came across this: http://www.knittinganyway.com./products/spindolyn.htm
(if you can't access the link, it's for a spindle that sits in a supported base that allows it to spin freely).

I can claim no responsibility for what happened after I watched this video of the spindle in action.



My hand clicked "buy now" of its own accord. And now it looks like I'll have a new toy come Monday.


*I generally don't condone online shopping. I'd much rather visit a LYS like The Black Sheep, but there are no yarn store locally that carry spinning products. That being said, the online shops I'm looking at are all small business, so I feel a bit better about that.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: http://cmp.ly/0

Monday, October 19, 2009

Miscellaneous Monday

In Which I Write About Reading and Announce a Contest

Writing About Reading


I like to read, and I like to write, so I figure it's high time I write about reading (I have actually read about writing before, but that's just making things confusing). Anyways, I'm going to write about my favourite book series.

Whatever you think my favourite series is, you're most likely wrong, for the simple fact that this series is often overlooked and not read or discussed nearly as much as it should be. In fact, I believe I've only met two people who've read it independently of myself. Everyone else I know who's read it did so because I told them to.

If you're one of those people, then you know the series I'm talking about is C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy (I almost didn't link this because I feel the article gives too much away, but if you're one of those people who have to know what a book's about before you read it, it is pretty helpful). C.S. Lewis is probably best known for his non-fiction book, Mere Christianity, and his children's fiction series, Narnia (and a lot of other really good books). The Space Trilogy, however, combines the philosophy and theology of his non-fiction with the wonder and discover of his fantasy.

I was given the Space Trilogy by my aunt my senior year in High School, and have read it at least once a year since then. The first time I read it, I confess, it was a little (okay, more than a little) over my head, but the second time through, I was captivated by the story and it's message.  The greatest praise I can give the series is that every time I've read it, I've seen something new, both within the books, and within myself. If you are looking for a reading recommendation, then this is by far at the top of my list.

Announcing a Contest


In honour of Halloween, I have decided to have a pumpkin carving contest. And yes, there is a prize (I don;t know what it is yet, but it will be a good, albeit not very expensive, one).  But just to make things more interesting, the contest will have a theme: Philosophical Pumpkins.

Here are the rules:
1. The theme is deliberately open-ended. Feel free to interpret "philosophical" however you want (but be prepared to defend your interpretation- this is philosophy).
2. You cannot use any third-party designs. By all means look at pumpkin patterns online for inspiration, but do not use them.
3. You can incorporate other objects into your design (yarn, wood, other vegetables, etc.), but at least one part of your design must involve a pumpkin.
4. At least part of your pumpkin must be actually carved, carved being defined as an cut that goes all the way through the pumpkin.
5. You must actually display your design outside.
6. All entries must be received by midnight, Nov. 1

To enter, e-mail a picture of your display to WillWork4Yarn@gmail.com, and include a brief description  of your design. I'll post all the entries on my blog and announce the winner on Nov. 2. If you have a blog, include it in your e-mail and I'll link your entry to it.

Happy carving!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fibre Friday

Because You Asked
(Okay, maybe not you specifically, but at least a few of you generally)


It seems my blog readership has become divided into three distinct groups. The first, and original, is the general readership group. It is mainly comprised of my close friends and family, and many of you have been following my blog since I started it back when I went to Oxford. You are the group that, for reason's unfathomable to me, find my life interesting enough to take time out of your own lives to read about it.

The second group is made up of my knitting friends. You all (I assume) are reading in hopes of me having a knitting disaster for you to laugh at. Or you just find yarn, fibre, pointy sticks, and drop spindles as fascinating as I do. This post, and hereafter, this day, is for you. Friday will now be dedicated to fibre.

The third, and newest group, consists of my fellow running bloggers. At the moment, I will not be dedicating a day of the week to you (I already dedicate three days a week to running- that leaves little time to actually write about it). But look for running updates on my regular Monday posts.

One more bit of business: I've added a background to my blog. Yea, or nay? Let me know. Whether or not it stays is up to you.

And now, your henceforth regularly scheduled Friday post:

Remember the fibre I recently got? I've started to spin it. It's my first time spinning with colour (and only my second time spinning. I tend to jump the gun in that area. My second time knitting I made a sweater. Or at least, that's what it was supposed to be), so it should be interesting.

It came as a sliver (long, narrow piece) which I divided into 4 pieces lengthwise, following the dye patter. My plan is to spin two ply yarn with the colours roughly lining up. Thus far, I have spun one of my pieces:



Not bad, huh? The tension is almost even all the way through. This might actually work.

The fibre, as you may recall, is called Easter Bunny. I didn't understand why at first, but now I think I do. The main colour is a grassy green, which is broken up by random bursts of blues, purples, and oranges. Like stumbling across an Easter egg in the yard. It also makes for exciting spinning, as I wait to discover the next egg.

Unfortunately, this post must also contain a confession. I'm working on a secret project (time to start Christmas knitting :) ) that required me to pick up a large number of stitches. I admit, I broke down and used a crochet hook to pick them up.  But that is not the worse of my crime.

I innocently left my crochet hook and knitting out by my computer, and while watching a show online, unknowingly picked up the hook and the tail of my project, and I swear my hands were acting on my own, and I didn't know what they were doing, but I...I...(weak stomachs should look away here)...I single-chain crocheted the tail of my project.


*sobs*

Monday, October 12, 2009

How it Went

It's the .2 that'll kill you


This past Sunday, I ran my first 10k. For those of you not born outside the US, that's 6.2 miles. I ran the Disney Race for the Taste 10k in 1:20:40, which isn't, in my opinion, to shabby for one's first 10k. The course was alternatively fun and beautiful, weaving through Hollywood Studios and Epcot, and following one of the many lakes on Disney property in between.

The music on the course was great, and I teased my running partner, Viv, that she must have picked out the soundtrack, because she knew every song. Whenever I was starting to feel tired, and like I couldn't push through, I'd hear the music and feel myself lifted up and carried on it for a few feet. It was a wonderful experience, and best of all I finished strong, and standing on my two two feet. (I ran the Disney 1/2 Marathon a few years ago, which had the same finish line, and didn't not manage that one so well...my Mom had to pretty much drag/carry me out of the finish chute). The medals were also great. They were shaped like plates with a little fork, knife, and spoon dangling from them.

That being said, there are a few things I would have changed about the race (all presented in good fun. As I said, it was a great race, with a beautiful course, and I had a lot of fun).

1. I want a T-shirt. Going along with the food and drink theme, all the runners got glasses with the race logos on them. But be honest- a glass doesn't give you as many bragging rights as a t-shirt.


2. A 5k split. There wasn't a timing mat at the 1/2 way point to mark your time...or even a sign and a clock should you want to check it yourself. I get that we're in America and use miles, not kilometers, but it would be nice to know when you're halfway through the race.

3. More music :) Headphones aren't allowed on the course, and as a rule-abiding runner, I would have loved to have never had a stretch of road without music.

4. Smaller water bottles at the finish. Seriously- they gave us 1 litre bottles of water when we finished. It took two hand to hold them, two sweaty, shaky, tired hands. I could barely hold the water bottle, much less open it and drink from it.

5. The food selection. Every runner had 3 coupons to get free food samples. Options included grilled salmon, beef, and chicken and rice. Really? Grilled salmon at 9:00 a.m. after running 6.2 miles? The only thing I could manage was the strawberry shortcake (which was amazing).

6. The beverage selection. Each runner also had a drink coupon. Since race for the taste corresponds with the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, my expectations for the after-race beverage options was, well, to be honest, I hoping for something alcoholic g. No such luck. Drink options were: Coke, Diet Coke, Lemonade, and Sprite :(.

Things I liked (to end on a good note):

1. The course. Beautiful.

2. The set-up. Very organized.

3. The lovely tree right in the middle of a hedge. Very useful, don't ask.

4. The medals. Very cool.


5. The music. Excellent for running to.

6. The racing experience as a whole! Fun, exciting, exhilarating...it was great!


Well, that's it for today's regularly scheduled post. Tune in next week for something fibre-y (maybe even before Monday?)!

And if you want to read more about Race for the Taste, I'm betting  Robin from http://www.runningcirclesaroundtheturtles.com will have something on it up soon.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fibre give-a-way!

Deadline is Midnight tomorrow, so check this out if you're interested.
http://www.fiberfarm.com/2009/10/spinners-giveaway

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Return of Hybrid Runner

Plus 2, minus 1


Some of you might remember this post. It was about all the running gear I use, and my experience with the Nike iPod+. Well, my iPod+ is up and working again, but I'm missing one piece of equipment. Since I don't run in one of the Nike shoes equipped with a cubby-hole for the iPod sensor, I'd bought a little case that velcroed it to my shoe. But when I decided to get out my iPod+ again, I could find the shoe sensor and the sensor that plugs into the iPod, but no velcro case.

Innovation was called for.











Yes, that is duct-tape.

As far as new gear goes, well my new additions aren't exactly high-tech: just two lycra-type bands with velcro and a gel pad. But what they do is better than all my equipment put together- they let me run again.


You see, I was having knee problems, and it turned out that my knee caps don't quite line up with the groove they're supposed. I had to go physical therapy for a little while, and they taught me how to move my knee cap into place and tape it there (which feels as nice as it sounds).

The bands I now run with, one on each leg, aren't on my knee, but right above it, on a muscle called the IT band. By putting pressure on the IT band, they keep it from pulling my knee caps in the wrong direction, allowing me run with considerably less pain.


So, thats my post for today. To those of you who read my blog for the fibre-arts stuff, I apologize. I start spinning my new fibre soon, though, so I should have something good next week.

If you want to follow my runs, there's a box in the left sidebar that shows my run-stats from my iPod+. It's a little inaccurate though. My last "6 mile" run was really only 5.

So, I'll see you on the road, and in the yarn stores!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Going Around in Circles

AKA Spinning

In her page-a-day calendar, the Yarn Harlot wrote that Gandhi thought that every person should spin yarn for 30 minutes a day. He “believed that the practice of quiet, structured, peaceful work would promote those same qualities in the people who did it”.

I spent a good portion of my summer wanting to learn how spin, which was problematic, since there aren’t any local yarn stores near me that carry spinning supplies, or teach spinning classes. So I was pleasantly surprised while in Colorado to stumble upon a yarn store named “Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins.”

There, I met the very kind Maggie Casey, author of the very helpful book “Start Spinning”, which has been my guide on my spinning expedition. Once I explained that I was interested in learning to spin (and was allergic to wool), Maggie grabbed a handful of plant fibre, a wooden drop spindle, and sat me down for a lesson in spinning 101. I left the store happily caring a bag of Alpaca fibre (already prepared into roving), and a Schacht Spindle, made locally in Boulder, Colorado.


I then followed Yarn Harlot's example of setting aside one day a week for spinning (her day is Tuesday, mine is Sunday – I like the alliteration “Spinning on Sunday”. It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done. It took me awhile to control how many fibres were in my drafting triangle, which effects how thick the yarn is. I became better as I progressed, and ending up un-spinning and then re-spinning my earlier attempts. I also sometimes had the fibre break off when I spun it too thin, causing my spindle to come crashing to the ground (maybe that’s why it’s called a drop spindle?)


But even while struggling, I began to understand what Gandhi meant. Spinning was, well calming. And creative. It was the act of taking useless fibre and binding it together into something useful. Creating order from chaos. Reverse entropy.

Maybe it sounds like I’m exaggerating or romanticizing, but that is truly how it feels, at least to me, to spin. If you don’t believe me, try it yourself. You can borrow my book.

Anyways, after all my trial and error, I have,  finally, produced…yarn!



Yes, it’s lumpy, and its gauge changes every six inches or so (which should make for some pretty interesting knitting), but its yarn. Honest to goodness yarn.



P.S. The yarn is actually black. I don’t know why it looks brown.

P.P.S. I learned how to wind a centre pull ball here, which I think is one of the best knitting tricks I’ve ever learned.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Underwater Eagles and Fuzzy Skies


This weekend John Antonio came down for a visit. Since we both like rollercoasters, we went to Sea World to check out their new coaster, Manta. Manta is a flying coaster, which means you’re parallel to the ground the whole time. Talk about a head rush! The lift up is terrifying from the front row, and the first drop leaves you feeling like you’re going to fly out of your chair. I wouldn’t recommend the back row unless you have a tough stomach.

The line for Manta is really cool, with underwater views of tanks filled with the ride’s namesake, manta and stingrays. I’d never realized how graceful these creatures are. One variety, I was pleased to note, was called the Eagle Ray. It’s well named. Rays swim through the water like birds fly through the air, flapping their wings for a bit, then spreading them out and coasting.

The rest of my visit with John was nice, though short.

In other news, today I got some lovely spinning fibre that I’ve been eagerly waiting for. The fibre came for “Twist of Fate”.



“Easter Bunny” Hand Dyed Alpaca (to be spun for a special friend-or maybe friends if I can spin fine enough)

I was pleasantly surprised to find not only the fibre I’d ordered, but a nice, handwritten thank you not in the package, and a free sample of another fibre:



“O” My, 100% organic hand dyed wool. (It’s colour reminds me of a cloudy sky on a sunny day, and I love it so much I might have to try spinning it even though I’m allergic to wool)

Well, that’s it for today! I hope you all have had a good week!


Monday, September 14, 2009

A Cheat

So, it's 11:00, I'm getting ready for bed, and I realize I've forgotten to post! (In my defense, I did post twice last week). And so, I'll have to cheat, and post something I wrote about two years ago. It's based on true events, and I'll give bonus points to any one who can identify which character is me.


The Bug: A Play in two (short) Acts
Cast:
Roommate 1
Roommate 2
Roommate 3
Large Roach (to be played by himself)
Act 1
scene: Garden Apartment kitchen, complete with steel security door. Roommate 1 is standing by the stove, making macaroni. Roommate 2 is leaning against the counter. Roommate 3 is offstage, presumably in her room. Enter Large Roach, unnoticed on the ceiling, crossing from stage right to stage left.
R2: There’s a lot of cheese in this packet.
R1: Yeah. I was thinking about not using all of it.
R2: When I was little, I called this fake macaroni. It was only “real” macaroni if you grated your own cheese.
R1: I did the same thing. It was real if my mom made it.
R2: How—sees LR and cuts off
R1: How what? follows R1’s gaze and sees LR, now crossing above stove top. R2 quickly covers pot of noodles.
R2: Quick…we need a broom or something! This exclamation is followed by a short moment of desperation as R1 and R2 realize there is not, in fact, a broom in the apartment. Someone get a shoe!
R3 enters downstage right holding a flip-flop R3: Oh no! How did it get in here?
R1: I guess it got in under the door. All stare dramatically at the door, as if expecting an army of roaches to force their way in.
R2: Here, give me the shoe. I’ll see if I can get him.
R3: Careful.
R1: Don’t knock him into the food!
R2 makes several unsuccessful attempts to hit Large Roach. She stops. R2: I can’t hit it. I’m too short.
R1: Let me try. Takes flip-flop and tries to hit LR, equally unsuccessful. Crosses downstage and grabs a stool. Standing on stool, she hits LR. LR falls onto top of cabinets. R1 climbs on counter to look for him. I can’t see him!
R2: There’s a squish mark on the ceiling. He’s probably fatally wounded.
R3: I agree.
R1: Well, that was exciting.
R2 and R3: Sure was!
R3 exits. R1 and R2 resume original positions, and continue discussion on “real” versus “fake” macaroni. Unbeknownst to them, however, Large Roach, has rolled himself back onto his (now) 5 legs.

Act 2:
scene: Garden Apartment kitchen, complete with steel security door. Roommate 1 is standing by the stove, making macaroni. Roommate 2 is leaning against the counter. Roommate 3 is offstage, presumably in her room. Unnoticed, Large Roach climbs up the wall behind the cabinets and precedes to cross the ceiling from stage left to stage right
R1: What kind of cheese do you use when you make macaroni?
R2: Cheddar. But at home we—uh-oh. R2 once again breaks off to stare at LR on the ceiling
R1: Oh no, not again! Is that the same one?
R2: I think so. He’s missing a leg.
enter R3, downstage right R3: What’s wrong?
R1: I think we’re going to need your shoe again.
R3 exits. R1 and R2 continue to stare at LR, transfixed by the horror of it all. R3 returns with same flip-flop. R3: I guess I’ll try to get this time.
R1: Try to get it at an angle so it doesn’t fall on you.
R3 shudders at the thought, but resolutely grips the flip-flop
R3: Okay, here it goes! R3 takes a step back and throws flip-flop at LR. LR is hit, and all three yell and jump back as he loses his grip on the ceiling. LR, however, is very determined, and, hanging only by one leg, manages to pull his other (4) legs back up.
R1: You got him!
R2: Try again!
R3 throws flip-flop a second time. Once again, LR is hit, but still manages to tenaciously hold onto the ceiling. All three yell and jump back (again.)
R1: That was really close.
R3: Okay- one more time. R3 throws flip-flop. LR is hit. Exhausted from the previous attacks, he loses his grip and falls, landing on his back. He desperately waves his 5 legs around. All three yell and jump back (at least there was a good reason to this time).
R1: Well, he’s off the ceiling now.
R3: I’m not squishing it.
All three stare at LR, who continues to wave his legs in the air. R1 and R3 look up after a moment and stare at R2. R2 notices their stares and sighs. R2: Fine. Give me the shoe. R2 raises the shoe and brings it down on LR with a rather anti-climatic “squish”.
R1 and R3: Ewww.
R2: looking at shoe I’m not cleaning this. Hands shoe to R3, who holds it tentatively between her thumb and forefinger. This is followed by a moment of silence as all three regard the now dead LR with mixed emotions. 
R1: Someone needs to clean this up.
R3: Not me!
R1 and R3 stare at R2. Wordlessly, R2 crosses downstage and retrieves a paper towel. She crosses back and lays the paper towel over LR. Careful not to get roach guts on her hand, R2 scoops up LR’s remains and deposits them in the trashcan located at stage right. All three give relieved sighs
Blackout.
Curtain

Friday, September 11, 2009

What I Remember

I was in 3rd period math when I heard about the attack on the World Trade Centers. An my thoughts immediately went to my cousin, N., who was 9 months pregnant at the time. Her husband, S., worked at the WTC.  I called my Mom at worked, and before I could say anything, she said, "S. is okay." There aren't really words for the relief I felt.

But what I remember most that day was feeling very, very, alone. Something about 9-11 moved me in a way I can't explain, and my reaction to it surprised even me.

I wrote. Almost everyday for a year I wrote about 9-11, my reactions, and the reactions of those around me.

And I read. I read the newspaper, and I cut out the pictures, headlines and articles. Some were positive reactions, some were negative, but I tried to collect a range of them. And I thought today I'd share some of what I collected.






Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Some Unfinished Business

Oh, Rats!


Hey! Look what I found...a UFO! (Un-Finished Object):


I found it while organizing my yarn stash, which, while not having hit SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy), was getting enough out of hand that keeping it all stacked together in a laundry hamper was no long a viable option.

Here's (the small, organized part of) my stash:


And another picture I call "Optimism": (I even labeled the drawers. Who do I think I'm fooling?)


And finally, some pictures of Knit and Purl (Knit is the gray one):


Hey! We were sleeping!

Peek-a-boo!
Do cameras taste good?

Can I come out, please?

Camera Shy

Monday, September 7, 2009

Somewhere in Between

There are a lot of “in-betweens” in life. There’s “in-between” jobs, “in-between” places, and “in-between times”. And perhaps the most “in-between” of all, the time between childhood and adulthood. And smack down in the middle of that transition period is Middle School.

Admittedly, High School, and to a lesser extent, college, are a part of that transition, yet I always felt that there was a definitely a leaning towards adulthood during those parts of my life.

But in Middle School there was no sense of leaning one way or another, no sense of movement. It was a stagnant period in life when I was neither one thing nor the other. Neither child, nor adult, nor moving towards one or the other. And I will openly admit I hated Middle School. It was the worse three years of my life. And so, when I got a job this year as a part-time tutor at a Middle School, I was a bit apprehensive. How was I going to relate to students that were in a stage of life I’d tried my best to forget?

It turns out my fears were un-founded, and the students answered that question for me. I’ve come to have a new appreciation for what seemed to me a stagnant period in my life. I’ve discovered the beauty of this strange transition period, where you have come to realize that the world can be a hard place to live, but have yet to let go of childhood dreams.

Many of my students come from rough backgrounds and one-parent homes. Their families struggle to make ends meet, and they deal with the anger they feel towards the adults in their lives who have let them down. They have none of the naïveté of childhood. Their world is rough, and sometimes cruel. But they have not left childhood completely. They still dream big, and seek wonder and beauty.
I’ve met students who want to be poets, actors, and of course professional sports players. Others want to be doctors, lawyers, and nurses. And if asked why, not one of them will say it’s because of the money. They want to do what they love, or to help other people. It’s a kind of innocence of motivation, one that is all too often lost as we age.

And while my heart breaks at some of the glimpses I’ve had into my students’ lives, at the same time, I’m filled with the hope of their dreams. And if I could choose one thing for them to learn from me, if I could pick the one lesson I hope stays with them, it’s to keep that “innocence of motivation”. To pursue a vocation, a calling, not a career. And to believe that the darkness in their world is not all there is. That is what they have right now, in this in-between time in their lives. A loss of naïveté, without a loss of hopefulness. And I pray that never changes. 

Monday, August 31, 2009

One of those Posts

10 things, in no particular order:
Pictures forth-coming

1. Last night I spilled wine on my computer (a Cabernet Sauvignon, for those who wondering, since about three people today have thought that would be a funny question).

2. My computer will be okay. All the important stuff, like memory, survived. The keyboard and trackpad, however, did not.

3. Yes, the current state of my computer is why this post has no pictures (good deduction!)

4. Speaking deduction, a Sherlock Holmes movie is coming out, which I think is pretty cool, but I am worried they won't be true to the books.

5. Today, I went through a drive-thru teller at bank. I don’t care how old you are, those vacuum tube thingys are really cool. Which made me wonder, have any of you ever accidently drove off with the container you put your check in?

6. Yes, “thingy” is a technical word. Why do you ask?

7. A philosophical thought: I spent last night un-spinning some yarn I had spun. It was too lumpy to use, so I wanted un-spin it and then re-spin into nice, fine yarn (I’m using alpaca fibre). And them I thought, “It’s funny how much life knitting and spinning can be, but there are some things you can do with yarn that you can’t do with life”.

8. Today, after thinking about it all summer, I finally bought myself two pets. Two rats, to be precise. I’ve had rats before, and they make excellent pets. Smart, playful, and friendly. I’ve been bitten by a lot of rodents, but never a rat.

9. After much debate, my rats, unlike all my past ones (Hermes, Apollo, Echo, and at one point the whole Pantheon (Hermes had a litter)), are not being named after Greek gods. They are both hooded rats, one grey, and one light brown, so I was going to named them Athena and Artemis (if you don’t know why I would name a grey rat Athena, go read Homer). Instead, they are being named…

10. …Knit and Purl (surely some of you saw that coming?)

So, that’s it for my Monday post! Tune in next week for more exciting episodes of the Emma’s Life!

(Or later this week to see the pictures. Hopefully, I’ll be getting my computer fixed tomorrow.)



P.S. This my 100th post. I feel like that deserves some kind of recognition.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

An Inkling of Philosophy

I’ve sometimes wondered what it was that drew me into Philosophy. If people ask, I tell them, truthfully, that I came to Philosophy via the Classics. But even as I give that answer, I know it’s not the full the truth. There was something in Philosophy that called to me the first time I read Plato’s Republic, and it has continued to call to me even when I read philosophers I disagree with. But what was it within me that was responding to this call?

A large part of it, I know, is my faith. Some people might find that strange, but the more I study Philosophy, and the more my faith is challenged, the stronger it has become. But there is a sense of direction, a hint of a pattern, in my philosophical interests that point to something else. I can see it in my younger writings. The little poems scribbled out in my fifth grade handwriting, the longer poems I wrote in Middle School (once I learned poems didn’t have to rhyme), and the short stories and un-finished “novels” I made attempts at in High School. All were written before I even knew what Philosophy as a discipline was, yet looking back, many of my writing follow a clear line in philosophical thought.

As early as fifth grade, I was asking the question “what is real?”. In Middle School, I devoted many lines of poetry to that question. I wondered what was more real- the world I interacted with everyday, or something beyond it. I didn’t feel at home in this so-called “real” world- was their a greater reality I couldn’t reach? I pushed the question further in High School, as I asked if the door in the hallway was of equal reality to the thoughts in my head. In retrospect, it’s little wonder reading Plato was like waking up for me.

But the reason I felt inspired to write this blog post is that I think I might have found the book(s) that first woke up these philosophical musings in me. Looking for a fun, easy read this week. I picked up a favourite childhood book, A Wind in the Door, companion to a Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. And as I read it, I suddenly began to see the beginnings of the questions that I had posed in my poetry. “What is real?”, the Teacher in the book repeatedly asks his pupils.

In her introduction to A Wind in the Door, L’Engle wrote “In the Time novels, Meg and Polly ask some big questions. Many of us ask these questions as we’re growing up, but we tend to let them go because there’s so much else to do […] In each book the characters are living into the questions we all have to live into. Some of these questions don’t have finite answers, but the questions themselves are important. Don’t stop asking, and don’t let anybody tell you the questions aren’t worth it. They are.”

L’Engle passed away in 2007, but her books still challenge their readers to ask questions. They certainly did for me.