28 March 2011

A bit of crochet color

I still don't quite know what I am doing with all these granny squares (a blanket at some point, I would imagine) but I'm enjoying playing around with the color combinations. I think this particular combo is my favorite thus far: Cascade 220 in chartreuse, como blue, and Atlantic blue. 

I'm getting to the point that I can whip out six of these little things in about an hour and a half. Two episodes of This American Life. There are worse ways to spend Sunday afternoon. I'm up to 48 of these things so far. I figure I need about 372 to make a blanket large enough for a bed. So, yeah... a whopping 13% done. Go me. 

All this started as a way to use up some of my stash. I'm getting there, slowly but surely. 

26 March 2011

Highs and Lows

Thursday was a ridiculously high day: I met with the course coordinator for the IU campus I will teach at the coming year to discuss classes and I'm going to get to teach some really phenomenal bits: tradebooks in the classroom (educational talk for children's literature), another assessment class, and (I am most geeked out about this one) research in language education. I essentially get to teach a class about reading research to connect with practice! It's my dream class, providing a conduit between those two seemingly separate worlds and I find myself dreaming of readings. Seriously. I'm pathetic, I know. Thursday was a high. 

Friday was a low. I made an appointment at the student health center to wrap my head around what was happening with my breathing. As in I wasn't doing it all that well. I figured this was my new head cold - I used to get them every fall and every spring but hadn't since moving to Indiana. My lungs ached, my throat was scratchy, they hurt after running. What the heck, right? Allergies, apparently. I've never had allergies in my life, so the world of inhalers and things are totally new to me. So after the PA decides that I don't have bronchitis, as this was diagnosed in the spring, but allergies. He writes me prescriptions and I go get them filled and I go to pay and find out that my student health insurance has expired. Hm. This has never happened before. As a fellowship recipient, I should receive health insurance through the end of the summer. I spent the first portion of the summer working as a graduate assistant for another professor in the department, putting together materials and helping out with teacher study groups, fulfilling my fall duties for my fellowship with a separate contract written for the spring. Apparently, those two contracts were never looked at together, so it looks like I am just teaching one class, not enough for health insurance. (It is important to note that both myself and the office manager in my department cleared the fall semester arrangement with people, so imagine my surprise when my insurance comes up as invalid!) So, the baseline frustration: I have allergies. They don't know to what yet, but I have a massive amount of prescription drugs and inhalers waiting for me upstairs in my bedroom. I do not have insurance. At least not right now. My fingers are crossed that the people in control of contracts and things are working on it. 

And today: today, I am sitting in my kitchen, drinking the last of this morning's pot of coffee and attempting to plan out what to do with my day. I need to finish taxes, accomplish some feedback, read some articles, volunteer for a play. Lots of stuff to do. Now to do it. I'm ready for an even-keel kind of day. 

24 March 2011

In Memoriam

I knew Daphane in college, when we were both working to become teachers. She was terribly dedicated and worked hard in her coursework and eventually went on to become a teacher in the Detroit Public Schools. In addition to being a competent, caring teacher, she was a passionate mother and a good, solid friend. In the years between then and now, she and I kept in sporadic contact, emailing at the holidays and when we encountered teaching dilemmas we felt the other might have insight into. I'm still in shock of it all; there is the space that she once occupied but no longer does and I'm never comfortable with that. 

Rest in Peace, Daphane Ramey. You will be missed. 

21 March 2011

Chicago Weekend


* The chicks at the Museum of Science and Industry. They're just so cute. 
* Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me was hilarious. If you have a chance to see a taping - do it. The podcast is 47:30, but the taping was two hours. There's tons of stuff that are edited out - all of it hilarious. 
* Wandering the Lake Michigan shoreline in the morning. 
* The Vivian Maier exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center. Hauntingly beautiful. 
* The food, of course. The Chicago Diner makes the best milkshakes ever, hands down. 

But now it's Monday. Spring Break is officially over and I'm trying to catch up on those few things I didn't finish last week... 

15 March 2011

Linky Love: Packing Edition

I'm heading to the Windy City tomorrow with the Man Friend (our first trip - a bit un-nerving) for a taping of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me and a visit with my good friend Anne. I think I have everything packed and am just waiting on my sheets to dry before I can go to bed. We will not talk about the orange soda mishap that resulted in my sheets needing to dry. Anyway: links!

Ben Sollee won me over in 2008 with Learning to Bend and I found his 2010 collaboration with Daniel Martin Moore, Dear Companion, to be equally lovely. His new album Inclusions is due to hit May 10th and if Embrace is any indication, it's going to be another exquisite collection of songs.

I love it that Local Yarn Stores are making it work - 11% increase in sales last year.

OMG. I all sorts of want. I will restrain because I already have too many unfinished projects lying around, but I think this solidifies my obsession with cuckoo clocks as I want to make this as soon as I can.

I'm ignoring the gender and just declaring this inspiring. After Chicago, of course.

I didn't quite plan on retiring anyway, so this is good news.

I've been fascinated with NPR's series on cultural fragmentation and enjoyed their insights into iCarly, particularly the gendered findings re: audience.

Jesse Brown is a bit of an intellectual badass and he is raising some very interesting issues regarding technology and entertainment regulation in our neighbor to the north.

RIP, Zune. I'm not surprised.

Oh, Japan. You make my heart hurt. This is the where I've sent money, should you be interested.

14 March 2011

More Color

A bit more color. I'm finding myself drawn to some pretty retro combinations. Strangeness abounds. 

13 March 2011

Thrifty Finds: Embroidery

I've had some decent luck finding some really adorable pieces of embroidery at the antique malls and flea markets lately. I found the above last weekend, which is ridiculously adorable and earmarked to be a holiday gift for a friend. There's something about the cheerful flowers that just makes me smile - hopefully, it will make the recipient smile as well. 

This is a slightly older find. I think I found this at one of the antique markets in Coldwater, MI when I was traveling over the holidays. I originally bought it for my Aunt, who collects samplers, but have been second guessing this as I find myself wanting to add it to my repertoire of wall hangings. It was a ridiculous $2.00 with 60% off, bringing it down to an unbelievable $.80. Obviously, it needs to be cleaned, a task I will take on once I figure out how to remove it from the professional framing with the least amount of damage. But those colors... seriously awesome. 

Come to think of it, I picked up another embroidery piece at an auction over the holidays, although this was Christmas-related and is already packed away with the holiday things. Part of me thinks I'm on the look out for these since I'm making no progress on my own cross stitch projects... 

12 March 2011

Color Combinations

I'm still crocheting, although I did have a bit of a snaffu as I continued to work on the original project. After looking through a few You Tube clips, I came to the horrifying conclusion that I had been double crocheting incorrectly. Oh, the shame! So when I went to continue making those previous squares, I found I couldn't duplicate what I was doing previously. Seriously. I couldn't make the mistake on purpose. 

It's possibly a case of running before walking. I tend to do those things. Regardless, I've started making granny squares of a simpler sort, following this tutorial. I don't quite know what I will be doing with them, but it's an interesting exercise in combining colors and thinking through what I have in my stash. Selecting three colors and laying out the various ways they play together color-wise. It's definitely too much fun. 

08 March 2011

Walking the Walk

Oh, Blogger. Why are you not letting me know there is a comment on my blog. There usually aren't many. You can at least let me know when there is one... or two.

Regardless: I'm teaching a class on literacy assessment for preservice elementary teachers this spring and we noticed an interesting disconnect the first day of class. When I asked students about how they would create readers in their classrooms, there was an overarching number of students who said that it was all about connecting readers to books, a la The Book Whisperer. Yet when I asked them about what they were reading, they admitted they weren't reading anything other than what they had to for class (and I sometimes doubt that). So however were they to connect readers to books if they have no idea what is out there?

Then I realized that I do very little reading outside of my own coursework / academic interests... And thus, I began forcing myself to walk the walk I was expecting of my students, reading at least one non-academic book a week and sharing those readings with them during the announcements portion of class. It's been lovely to leave the laptop downstairs and curl up with a book before bed... sometimes tricky, but rather lovely.

Some of the greatest hits recently:

Tinsel :: This book, written by a journalist, seeks to understand the contemporary meaning of the rituals that comprise Christmas as we know it. It's a narrative journey through the 2006 season in Frisco, Texas, and an enjoyable read at that.

Random Family :: I don't know how I haven't written about this one yet. This is a journalistic narrative following a group of teenagers growing up in the Bronx beginning in the early 1980's. LeBlanc follows these people through jail sentences, child birth, geographical moves, relationships, failures... it's breathtaking in the way that it captures the experience of people who are born into certain circumstances and work toward changing those circumstances. Brilliant book.

Before I Fall :: Oh, my. This YA novel had me from the moment I started the first page. I literally tore through this 400+ page book in a little over four hours. While Samantha, the protagonist, tries to think through her life and death, is sometimes frustrating and the prose, at times, sugary-sweet, it was a fully satisfying read.

I just picked up Cinderella Ate My Daughter from the library, which has been making the round on the news sources. While somewhat connected to my research interests, I'm counting it as a pleasure read.

06 March 2011

Seven Up

I was in Madison, Wisconsin for a conference a few weeks ago and, in between periods of protesting at the Wisconsin capital, happened to sit in on a session with Dr. Nicholas Hitchon, a physicist. Seeing as the conference was about the intersections of space, time, and literacy, I was a little confused as to why he was presenting, but was excited at the prospect of science goodness within a literacy framework. It turns out that Dr. Hitchon had been one of fourteen British children who had been featured in the 1964 documentary 7 Up, a movie that sought to explore the idea the adult a person is to become is fully seen in the seven-year-old. Michael Apted has followed up with as many of the children as possible every seven years since, following them through some awkward adolescent periods into adulthood. The original program, in some very heavy-handed ways, sought to establish that particular ways of rearing children were more valuable than others. There are some children, particularly Nick, who are painted as childhood tragedies, but life isn't always so predictive.

It's a fascinating study in how our lives are shaped by a strange combination of educational experiences, the circumstances of our birth, our own biologies, and our inner drive. It's also a fascinating look at the ways in which chaos comes into play as we live, while also highlighting just how quickly life moves. I haven't been able to look away, pushing through six of the currently-available seven documentaries.

03 March 2011

The Facebook Effect

Yesterday, possibly insane from the euphoria of teaching, I changed my relationship status on Facebook. He of the Hopeful Yarn and I have been together for six months and this was apparently cause enough to make the according changes on his own Facebook page. I think it is somewhat hilarious to point out that I completely missed this action – my housemate had to point it out over breakfast one day – “So you’re official now, huh? You know you’re official when it’s on Facebook.” I immediately grabbed my coffee and went upstairs to confirm for myself, chugging caffeinated liquid life with one hand, typing in the web address with the other. And there it was: he’s now in a relationship. I hoped it was me he was talking about, but kept this thought to myself.

So, three days later, I changed my own relationship status. It was a new thing, really. I’ve been in relationships since joining Facebook in 2003, but never had I declared such. There was certain perlocution in this particular situation: he had validated our unit and it was only proper to do the same.  Right?

In the last twenty-four hours, friends and family have been a-flurry in a massive amount of liking and commenting. I love my friends and family for being happy for me, but it all seems a little strange. I really haven’t accomplished anything other than fooling some poor fool into thinking I was worth hanging around for longer than a week. Furthermore, the core of who I am hasn’t changed all that much. The way I parse my time? Sure, although I think that is more due to the ever-looming dissertation than the relationship.

I continue to fail to get what the big deal is. I happened to be lucky enough to find someone I’m compatible with, with whom I may be with for a while. There are no guarantees that this status will last. Do I hope? Of course I do, but I also hope my friends and family are prepared for the chance of my status reverting back to single. Will they see that as a tragedy, as some of them have seen this as a triumph?

Such questions.