31 August 2010

Holiday Manifesto

It's August 31st, which reminded me of two things this morning: my parking permit would officially expire at midnight if I didn't purchase a replacement at some point in the day and that the holidays were a little under three months away.

Three months. One-fourth of a year. It seems like a decently long amount of time, but really it's not. I've taken to making my holiday gifts for the past few years, an endeavor that has required massive coordination over the course of the summer and fall. Here it is, the eve of September and I have nothing knit or sewn for the holidays. I'm a little nervous, not going to lie.

I have assessed the situation, though. I have materials, bins of yarn and of fabric that can be made into useful items for those I love. I just need to get a move on and in an efficient manner as there's a lot going on in those three months between now and Christmas. I have thought up something of a holiday manifesto for myself, a set of guidelines to keep myself focused on the task at hand:

(1) I will use the materials I have on hand. I am a hoarder of crafty goodness and have amassed a lovely collection. Time for them to be put to use, especially since the reason I started making my gifts was because I was tired of the commercialization of the season. Use what you have, Nick. Use what you have.

(2) I will be efficient in my use of time. I envision huge blankets and cabled sweaters being unwrapped and that's just not reality. I need to be cognizant of my time, my resources. In other words: I will be giving many hats this year.

(3) I will be reasonable about the number of people I gift to this year. My gift-giving list is always expanding. I need to contract this a bit and remember that notes of good cheer are as welcome as a small gift in the mail. At least I hope they are.

There's so much work to be done, but my calendar is color-coded and I am feeling prepared. Now to knit. Like the wind.

29 August 2010

Do you see that? All those loose ends to be woven in? 

It's already been done. Pictures coming soon. 

It's the night before the first day of fall classes here. There's a certain electricity in the air as everyone gears up for the start of the fall semester. I find myself at a bit of a loss. I don't have any classes. I'm not even teaching classes. I'm a research assistant this fall, a role I'm fortunate to have but one that keeps me out of the classroom for a semester. 

Gone are syllabuses. In their place is me, structuring my own time, reading about my own interests. Gah. So much to do this semester, so many things to attend to.

But the possibility. The possibility is amazing. 

I Wish I Had Said That

"How do you even reason with people who believe that, when something bad happens to you, it's God's wrath, but when something bad happens to me, it's God's pop quiz?"

- Dan Savage, The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family, p.166

26 August 2010


Yesterday was move-in day here in Bloomington, with flocks of anxious parents descending on the vehicularly constipated city to drop their children off in front of their dorms, bid their tearful good byes, and then travel back to their cities of origin. I normally shy away from driving in the city on days such as these, when a combination of anxious parents, one-way streets, and frustrated townies create unfortunate conditions for traffic, but couldn't this year. I had tutoring and needed to be at a certain place at a certain time. 

It was after leaving that place that I stopped on one of the busiest streets in the town and, while waiting, was hit from behind. I think I remember seeing the Subaru in my rearview mirror and thinking, "she's going to hit me, what do I do?" but am unsure whether that actually happened or if that's simply me constructing the story of what happened after the fact. Regardless, her Subaru SUV collided with the back end of my Saturn, propelling me into the gentleman ahead of me. I remember hitting my brakes, thinking that I might be able to avoid hitting his Honda, but to no avail.

After it all happened, I sat in my car, dripping with the diet soda I had bought at McDonald's just moments before. I was shaking and breathing heavily. I had never been hit before, much less inflicted vehicular violence on someone else. There was so much to process: what was the next step, what just happened, was everyone okay? I could see the woman behind me walking around her car, the man ahead walked around his. They both checked on me. I was shaken, but fine. Flashing lights and sirens and badges and the handing over of papers. I stayed in my vehicle for all of this, not climbing out until we cleared the road, in anticipation of the 5:00 rush. 

"You stopped. I saw you in my rear view. You were stopped," the man driving the car my car collided with told me when we climbed out of our cars after pulling onto a side road. I breathed, having run through the scenario in my head repeatedly, attempting to conjure up the appropriate emotion: shock, guilt, exasperation? 

I landed on fortunate, feeling fortunate that everyone was fine. I kept thinking back to the moment I realized what was happening and how fragile I felt, at the beck and call of forces of physics as force moved through metal structures. Fortunate that, in the grand scheme of things, the only thing that needs to be healed is the hatchback and front end of my car. These things are replaceable. 

Oh, life. How delicate and surprising and tricky you are. 

20 August 2010

Linky Love: Lizard Ridge Edition

With qualifying exams behind me and proposal breathing down my neck, I've been attempting to relax at the end of the day with a little knitting. Well, not exactly knitting. More sewing than knitting as I've continued to make progress on the Lizard Ridge. All the blocks are officially seamed together. I finished it at 1:30 this morning and promptly did something of a happy dance. All that is left to do is to pick up the stitches on the edges and knit a border... after some sleep as I was wide awake at 6:30 this morning. Why does my body hate me?

Yet another project nearing completion. Not so good for my motivation today, so I leave you with links.

I want to collect every single one of these My Little Ponies For Geeks, but would totally settle for the My Little He-Man and Orko.

These photographs are testaments to creativity and Mila's ability to sleep deeply.

If only news media actually used such warning stickers.

I can't help but take some glee in these photos from Westboro Baptist Church protests.

To try and be productive now...

19 August 2010


It wasn't until I finished eating my ice cream last night that I realized I was a PhD candidate. No longer a student, I was a candidate. Crap. I need to make things happen now, don't I? 

14 August 2010

I Wish I Had Said That

"The structures, the physical objects of our days, shape our thoughts more substantially than we often realize. A really comfortable chair makes reading better, of course, but more significant than the overt and recognized impact of structures is the fact that inanimate objects can be so influential as to seem almost animate, as if some force works through them."

Michael Ruhlman, House: A Memoir, p. 28

13 August 2010


I totally fibbed. I told myself I wasn't going to break into the pasta sauce until cooler weather descended but I couldn't resist. There was a zucchini and a summer squash sitting on the table and it was just calling out for pasta. And sauce. And it was delicious.

Other fibs I have told myself lately:

I love Denyse Schmidt. My love for Hope Valley is deep. My desire for Flea Market Fancy epic (though unrequited as I cannot afford $40 for a yard on eBay...). I happened upon her website last night and noticed her new collection, Greenfield Hill, was coming out this fall. At first, I was a little put off - it's a very different aesthetic from Hope Valley, calling forth vision of my English great-grandmother and her house filled with art deco treasures. On second glance today, it's growing on me. I might need a fat quarter. Or ten.

I am also in love with F. Scott Fitzgerald. I discovered him in high school when Mr. Krznarich, my social studies teacher mentioned the book in class and I realized it was something I hadn't read yet and should. I devoured his books, biographies about the man himself, and something of an anti-hero in him. I have several copies of his books but Coralie Bickford-Smith has redesigned hardbacks for all his books and my heart is a-twitter. I told myself I wouldn't buy any more books but when these come out in November? I will be collecting them all.

Okay. I feel better.

12 August 2010

Basil Tomato Sauce

The moment canning tomatoes arrive at the farmer's market in large boxes, I begin dreaming of canning sauce.

I tried out a recipe for basil tomato sauce this year from Ashley English's Homemade Living: Canning and Preserving. I've yet to actually taste said sauce but if the smell that filled the house while it simmered is any indication, this is going to be amazing on pasta. I bought a small farmer out of all of his Roma tomatoes picked up an onion from another stall, and was given a lovely bunch of basil by a professor in my department. I love the idea of these materials coming together to become sauce. 

After peeling, before simmering and an attack by the immersion blender. Meaty deliciousness. 

And the simmering continues. I am always a little shocked by how quickly tomatoes simmer down, especially as they simmer for the second time. The smell, however, continued to be amazing. 

Oh, yes. Little jars of summer sunshine ready for the winter. I can't wait to get into these when the temperatures drop.

I am continually amazed by the reactions I get from people when I stop to buy canning supplies. In preparation for this canning excursion, I stopped at the local hardware and bought new jars. The lovely woman behind the counter, to her credit, asked me what I was planning to fill them with. This is normally a conversation about what my wife will fill them with, which always makes me giggle a bit. After explaining my plans for said jars, she commented that I was really young to want to can. Unsure what this means, but entertaining nonetheless.

More canning adventures to follow. I still need tomatoes in their own juices for chili and would love to can some apple butter. After my quals defense, of course.

10 August 2010

They Tend Not To

I had the opportunity to watch a dear, dear friend defend his dissertation yesterday after watching him write furiously all summer. It was amazing. He was amazing. His work was powerful and meaningful and, well, amazing. It makes me excited to begin my own work in the fall. Oh so much to do before that happens, though. Decisions. Writing. Ugh. 

At a soiree afterward, I saw another dear, dear friend who is returning to her classroom today, teaching fourth grade after being a reading specialist for several years. She was relating an exchange she had with a researcher at a conference she attended this summer, during which the researcher shared that "lots of PhDs want to return to the classroom, they really do, but they tend not to." 

Just something that has been marinating in my brain the last few hours. 

07 August 2010

I Wish I Had Said That

"The working-class children we once were are in our bodies, even though we have moved on. We occasionally still feel physically uncomfortable in some privileged social settings, keen to escape rather than engage, afraid that we will be exposed as imposters when we make some kind of verbal or physical wrong move." (Comber, B., Thomson, P., & Wells, M., Critical Literacy Finds a "Place": Writing and Social Action in a Low-Income Australian 2/3 Classroom)

04 August 2010

Linky Love

I love Detroit. I love it even more when it is written about in a positive light.

Why would you need a college degree? I bet he's got a degree, though...

This reminds me to revisit the plagiarism policies in my syllabus.

I kind of all sorts of love it: Transgender camp.

I enjoy this more than I should: