31 July 2010

The Fall of the House of Whelmed

It wasn't until this morning, as I listened to this song in my car after seeing Liz and Don off on their multi-state adventure, that I broke down and cried. It's not that moving has been hard - physically tolling, yes, but really nothing I haven't done before - but that this last year has been so good. It's hard to imagine it ending. Even writing this now in my new bedroom, filled with boxes waiting to be unpacked, my brain thinks I will eventually go back to Clark Street. My gosh, that's melodramatic.

Regardless, I am all moved into the new digs. My roomies are diligently working through their first weekend of qualifying exams while I'm attempting to be quiet while unpacking. I'm being partially successful.

I was brutal with this move, culling the collection of stuff in ridiculous ways. I'm a sentimental hoarder: I keep things because someone made it for me, bought it for me. Items that I don't use but hold onto because I feel I have to. My fourth move in as many years and enough was enough: I dropped two carloads of things at Goodwill, which, judging from the line of cars at their donation door, had a very good day today. So much schtuff.

Schtuff that needs to be unpacked. I should go do some of just that.

26 July 2010

Nothing Rhymes with Orange

I've noticed I have a bit of an orange obsession going at the moment:

The first tomato from the plants I bought back in May. Delightfully orange and delicious on a sandwich. This could also be considered more red than orange. I'm claiming it as a hybrid of the two.

A stack of fat quarters from my local fabric store. Orange seems to be the dominant color - who can resist Heather Ross? And imagine my delight when I found some stray Hope Valley! Slowly but surely collecting a full set of fat quarters from that fabric line. The orange basket weave might be one of my favorites ever. 

Zinnias from the Farmer's Market. These are a little bittersweet as they remind me that summer is coming to an end. However, this also means that sweater weather is close and, really, who can resist how cheerful they are? 

25 July 2010

Small Graces

There's nothing better than a cup of coffee (much milk and some sugar added, please) and a morning project. Other things I've enjoyed this week:

(1) I've been tutoring in the public library for a few weeks now and it's totally reminded me how much I love teaching. I can't imagine not doing it and am kinda freaking out about not having a group of undergrads in the fall. After a tutoring session on Tuesday, one of the librarians approached my table, patted me on the back, and told me, "I love watching a great teacher. You do such a good job with these kids."

(2) The Lizard Ridge seaming is almost done. So freaking close. Then to knit on the edging, block, and use. Once the fall sets in, that is.

(3) I've been packing boxes for about two weeks now. Moving is sad, especially when you've been lucky enough to have an amazing set of roommates. It is also filled with possibility. I'm trying to dwell in that possibility. I'm also attempting to clean out some of my crap. How did I collect so much stuff?

24 July 2010

Of Pickles and Pick-ups

Last weekend, Sarah and I began the yearly tradition of putting up some of the local produce for the winter. Every year it seems we can a little more, try a few more techniques. This particular summer we decided to give pickles a go. During my recent trip to Michigan, my aunt gave me my grandmother's recipe for bread and butter pickles, a deliciously sweet and tangy condiment that immediately evokes memories of summer for me. We canned pickles last Sunday, working in shifts in her kitchen.

Perhaps a sign of the general number of projects I'm working on at the moment, but I realized that I was sans wide-mouth lids on the way to Sarah's house. The jars clinking together in my backseat would do little good without lids to seal. After calling to inquire about other items, I stopped the Kroger, which does a fairly good job of keeping a variety of canning supplies on their shelves and well stocked at that. While reaching for said lids, a mustachioed gent, whose cart contained three cases of jars, asked if I canned. What proceeded was a fifteen minute conversation about supplies, recipes, and the personal preferences of canning. It was his first time canning, having found a bumper crop of cucumbers in his garden, and he would spend the rest of the afternoon turning them into pickles. I told him of my own impending pickling of the cukes.

"That's cool. I wish I had someone to can with so I could ask questions. Hey, do you think I could have your number in case I don't know what I'm doing?"

I wrote my number on a scrap of paper, wished him the best with his canning adventures, and didn't realize until I reached the car that I had just given out my number in a grocery store. Strange.

He called the next day; all of his jars sealed and lined up on his shelves, as were mine.

14 July 2010

Lizard Ridging Along

Prior to leaving for the weekend, I spent a few nights weaving in and trimming the ends from the Lizard Ridge blocks. A few episodes of Mary Tyler Moore a night and it was done rather quickly. Brainless activity. That's a beautiful thing. I even started sewing them together but, after a weekend away, ripped it out last night and started again.

Part of the glitch was how the blocks were laying. I was seeing one of the cast-off edges and it just bothered me to no end. I also wanted to think of a way to seam as continuously as possible. I took a note from quilting and chain-pieced the bottom two rows of blocks together. It's a little awkward to handle, but I like the idea of stitching together all the horizontal seams in one general movement. It's also turned out to go a little faster than I thought it would. I pieced the first twelve blocks together in the course of two episodes of Family Guy.

I'm unsure I'm in love with the gray as a border, but I'll have to wait and see what it all looks like put together. I refuse to pull any more sewing apart so the gray stitches, they stay.

06 July 2010

Note To Self: Qualifying Exams

Our department allows us to write our own questions for our qualifying exams. While I thought I had prepared adequately for them, I wanted to quickly jot down a few thoughts about the process so that, should I ever find myself working through the same process (hopefully from another perspective), I have some insights into how to make it a better process for all. 

Throughout the thirty days, organization was key. The above? It's what somewhat worked for me: piles of books based on what conceptual material they were dealing with, a file jacket with articles organized in file folders along the same lines, and a Mendeley database. Toward the end, it did get a little dicey, but I'm unsure any organization system can survive me caught within the violent thrust of a deadline. 

When composing these questions, I was primarily concerned with the material to be covered within them. I should have paid attention to the products that were expected as well - I was constantly struggling a workshop question that I really had no clue what was actually expected of me. I did too much and fear I did none of it very well at all. (This fear has since been disbanded. It was fine - just not as complete as I would have perhaps liked.) 

Set realistic guidelines for how you will spend your time with your questions. I thought I would work through one question a week but spent the first week reading. That killed my week of revising, really, but I had the opportunity to cover a lot of material I hadn't covered in my coursework. It forced me to shift my plans, though. Also: make sure you know how and in what format your committee wants your materials. 

I keep thinking of these exams, this body of writing as a beginning point for the work that will begin in August, a space to begin thinking about the ways in which the kiddos and I will engage in making meaning through technology. It doesn't have to be perfect but I need to know what those spaces are where I have no covered something. For me, this is an undertheorization of power, a generalized sense of identity, and an awkward wielding of standpoint theory. All things I will read up on and form opinions of before my defense. It doesn't need to be perfect. Just workable. 

Above all: if you're in the middle of your exams: breathe. What you have learned will come together in surprising ways. It's do-able despite seeming totally ridiculous while you're within them. 

Linky Love: Gratitude, When Video Games Attack, and Quilting Crushes

Every once in a while I run across a blog that completely captivates me. Leah Dieterich's THXTHXTHX does just that. Her daily notes of gratitude often make me pause to consider my own state of life, usually accompanied by a giggle. Yes, a giggle. 

The roomies and I are selling our Wii soon but I kind of want to keep it, if only to play this game. 

Speaking of video games, when Pixels attack! 

I missed the golden age of Domino magazine, so I'm thankful some of the archives are being made public. One can never have too much aesthetically pleasing house porn to procrastinate to. 

In the midst of packing, I find myself in this very predicament. 

I could spend hours on Google Maps. Luckily, the Huffington Post has collected the most bizarre and strange photos for my, and your, entertainment. 

I really must read more about the man behind Charlie Brown. 

Everything about her is just lovely: her fabrics, her inspiration, the tools she uses. Denyse Schmidt, I think I have a little of a crush on you. 

And, lastly, chucks tend not to fit me very well as I am afflicted with the WIDE feet but I might have to suffer for a pair of these

05 July 2010

Life, Post-Quals

Quals were due Friday. By 11:59pm at the latest. Due to a formatting snaffu - and I mean a formatting snafu of the oh-crap-what-just-happened-why-did-my-computer-suddenly-turn-off sort - they actually didn't get turned into until 12:20am Saturday. Twenty minutes late. Crap. Regardless, they are in, my computer is still functioning (although I'm beginning to question the stability of Mendeley), and the rest of the summer can begin.

I somewhat expected that moment where I hit the send button to be something like a fireworks moment, the pure oppression of thirty days of intense writing to be lifted from my shoulders. Perhaps it was the last minute insanity of reformatting 93 pages of writing or just sheer exhaustion, but I honestly didn't feel a thing. Nothing. Not even an itch in my nose. Rather, I packed up my materials and went home to sleep.

I awoke the next morning and was instantly filled with dread: all 93 pages of dangling participles and incomplete sentences. Over the course of the weekend, I slowly talked myself into knowing that, while not the written masterpieces of my life, these essays weren't the messes I was making them into. These exams, they are works in process. Breathe. Relax. Read a non-acadmic books. (This, by the way, is amazing. I've always loved McCracken, but her writing here is beautiful and painful and optimistic and enjoyable. I devoured it.)

The weekend was spent catching up on life, all the errands that didn't get done while in the midst of writing. Planning projects. Running miles. I'm exhausted, still sleeping at least eight hours a night. Rare hours of sleep for me. Yet, surprisingly, I find myself ready to jump into the next phase, the planning of my research, the launch of my study.

I think this is as close as I have ever felt to being an adult.