So, hi. Haven’t dropped in for a while. That’s because I’ve denying myself all things (except the ongoing textile projects, which cannot be denied but can have their time limited) in an effort to find the self-discipline to write my damn thesis.
I have become disturbingly lacking in the ability to focus, so this denial plan has totally failed. It turns out I would actually rather stare at a wall. And I would just do that sort of all night, feeling like I shouldn’t go to bed because I hadn’t gotten enough done and, well. I’ve stayed up late a lot and spun my wheels a lot too.
So. New plan. It’s not so revolutionary. Instead of vague self-denial that just makes me unhappy and doesn’t get me anywhere better, I’m going with time management!
One hour of writing per day.
Ye gods, this is slow going, but I put in one hour yesterday and one hour today and I have updated graphs, an updated table, two new references, some corrected in-text references, corrected formatting, and two or three new paragraphs! Pararaphs, y’all, and some are in my Discussion section. One of them even has an assertion, sort of. A weak-kneed, jello-like assertion, but I just have to write this stupid thing and get it off my back.
In the interest of time-management, I’m not planning a return to regular blog posting anytime soon, but it seemed okay to do this picture-less post after having put in my requisite hour tonight. And now I will maybe weave for a few minutes or hang out with Brad.
Other aspects of my new time-management plan: go to bed by 11:30 every night. After two weeks of this, re-evaluate and see if I think I should join the YMCA. Working out takes time, but I well know from experience that done in moderation it increases my energy for everything else, so it will probably help. We’ll see after two weeks of normal sleep scheduling.
Um, Holden turned 10. That is a big deal and we had a big party, but it must wait a while.
It’s very cold. Nevertheless, today Brad took the dog outside to play frisbee. I guess when Emerson came in he was feeling pretty cold, so he got close to the woodstove. Really close. Veeery close. And started steaming, so Brad took a picture because a steaming dog is sort of funny. Oops.
Then we had lots of burned hair bits on the floor and a nasty burned dog hair smell in the house and now one of his haunches is grizzled. He’s a grizzly dog. Yet he’s sleeping behind the stove with his snout underneath it most of the time. I didn’t think animals just accidentally got themselves all singed like that.
Also, he is supposed to be a smart breed — the smartest smarty-pants breed of all.
He doesn’t get Brad’s slippers for him very well, either. Sometimes he gets them if they’re right in the room and he can see them and maybe if Brad actually puts one in his mouth for him. Then he shakes them to break their slipper necks. At least he drops them on command.
But my dog is smart, really. It’s just that he’s smart for a dog. I choose to view this singeing incident as merely underlining the superiority of humans, which my children have been trying to convince me of for the past two or three weeks. C often announces humans are the smartest animals. I enjoy responding by asking him if he can catch a fast fish using just his mouth. Or if he speaks dolphin. I am raising my children to have a confusing childhood to look back on. Fondly.
For instance, is New Year’s actually a birthday? Brad said it was a birthday for 2014, so he made a cake and we sang and had candles. I think it was just an excuse for cake, although cake doesn’t really need an excuse. Happy 2014! May it bring you fewer singed hairs than it has already brought Emerson.
Yes, they could open a Solstice present now. So. My kids get to open one present each on Solstice. Just part of me making up stuff and calling it family “tradition” as I go along.
Here’s another new tradition for us: winter band concerts. H plays trumpet now. It’s shiny and loud and he’s not too bad for having been at it only a few months. But H is a performance hater. I can relate to that feeling, but I can’t quite relate to the intensity of how he feels it. Boy howdy, does that boy *not* want any music to come out of him and be heard by other humans. At least not humans who are paying attention. So even though I can’t believe I’m doing this, and I totally don’t expect anyone to click this YouTube link, I have to say that this little clip actually means something to me because I think it means something to H. You can’t even see him at all — it’s just for the audio. And putting it here, I’ll be able to find it this spring when he has a spring concert and we can compare. Yup, I am using this public space as a filing cabinet.
I went to Brad’s work party. That is not so big a thing, a holiday work party. The big thing is that Brad danced with me and now I know how to make that happen. Tell him he should dance with me, listen to his excuses, then shrug and go dance anyway. His overactive guilt-and-duty gene then took over and that’s that. Well, alcohol always helps too.
Anyway, then Christmas came! As it always does, and it’s always lovely.
Christmas went as Christmas usually does when you have a couple of excited kids and you’re generally just ridiculously lucky. Not much else to say about Christmas Day. Except Brad cooked some kind of beefy thing and I’ve not had it before and it was good. Coming on the heels of the fancy-pants paella from Christmas Eve and the itty-bitty (perfect size) turkey on the day after Christmas when his parents come to visit.
Which is when I happened to get this photo, which is gold for family files (again with the filing cabinet, I know.)
Then today Brad took the boys to a museum in Worcester. Sadly, it is closing its doors forever in a few days, so this was the last chance. I didn’t go, but here is the coolest picture they brought back.
This photo requires more yakkety-yakking than a mere caption can hold. Those helmets are from Corinth, from about 550 BCE. Now, I’ve seen old things before. Lots. I’ve even visited Corinth. And I do generally like very old things (though when visiting museums with children, I’m not very able to look at things for more than a split second as I zoom past. Come to think of it, going to museums with Brad is also that way. I need a fun museum buddy.) Anyway, I do generally like to look at old stuff — cuneiform tablets, statuettes from Mohenjo-Daro (not that I’ve gotten to see those in person, I’ve just had Harappans on the brain lately), Aztec pyramids. I like bog men and torques. Ruined buildings so old and so ruined that you can only see outlines of foundations left. Oh. Well, I like all of it, more or less. though the weapons are almost always less interesting. But those helmets! They’re like something out of one of those Hollywood epics I can’t help loving (Ben Hur! What a ridiculously principled hottie! The dancers in Cleopatra! Sexy as all get out, no consideration of principles required.)
What maybe gets me is that they’re used. My kids are standing, smiling, in front of these three helmets that people wore a really long time ago while they, presumably, killed other people. It’s creepy and fascinating. Normally, I’m not really into glorifying war, which a weapons museum sort of does, but somehow I have a different feeling about them. Why the fascination?
Probably I’m falling into that trap Thoreau ridiculed, “When the thirty centuries begin to look down on it, mankind begin to look up at it.” Still, I was not terribly interested in, say, the weapons from ancient Pacific NW nations I saw in Ottawa a few years ago. Those artifacts were just as old. Why is this?
It occurs to me that Thoreau was probably not a fun museum buddy.
I’m a skeptic. I don’t know when I became a skeptic, but maybe I was born that way and had to grow into it. I’m thinking that skepticism may have a genetic link, like religious belief is, maybe. I do remember being a sucker for Santa Claus, though only dimly, and don’t recall when I stopped.H believed haphazardly until a friend of his told him the truth, and my belief is that he’s been on a secret, forbidden crusade to educate his little brother ever since. C started saying last year, speculatively, testing the waters, “I think you’re just putting presents under the tree. Not Santa.” Now, that’s true (sorry to break it to y’all), but I also label the presents clearly as being from me (or Brad), so it’s hardly a revelation. I remind C that Santa doesn’t leave presents under the tree at our house, but just in the stockings. Then he remembers that’s the case, says, “Ooooooooooooh,” and looks at my sideways for a while.
So my small skeptic is onto me, which is fine. I love a good skeptic. That being said, this is probably the only picture I’ll ever get of this nature:
At the moment we’re all about advent calendars in our house, both the purchased Angry Birds K’Nex kind and the homemade activity-based kind (which is actually a Solstice Advent calendar — hence, only 21 pockets):
We also do a tree. This one is the top of one of our very sick looking Colorado Blue Spruces, which need to go. At least one of them has served a noble purpose (other than getting burned in a firepit, I mean, which is also their fate).
Western Mass is in the grip of, um, lots of snow. Which I spent lots of time tonight blowing around with our very heavy, very old, very loud, and reasonably effective snowblower. Just trust me. You’ll have to, since I’ve not taken a picture of the lovely, white, cold blanket all around. It’s out there, being all bright and glistening.
A friend posted this on FB this week. I really really love this image and I’m so glad I saw it (thanks, Tim!) The tiny guys have clearly been fighting bravely, but ineffectively and are now in retreat. Except the one unlucky one who is getting a snail eye to the chest. I normally can’t help snickering when I see pictures of naked warriors (because why? why go to war naked? Artists! Just portray naked guys without all the war trappings! It’s okay, I promise.) But I guess if you’re going to fight a snail with drum major batons you may as well fight naked. There’s not a lot of pointiness in a baton or a snail to make you regret your nakedness decision.
Aside from the little naked warriors, I cannot stop thinking about snails now, and whether they’d be dangerous if I were the size of these guys. I know they can put away a lot of leaf in a night, so I started wondering what their mouths were like. The holes they leave in leaves are pretty chomp-y looking.
And now we know. If Huskisson also knew what a snail mouth looks like, it puts a slightly different spin on the little men running away so desperately from it.
No teeth. Only raspy tongues, like tiny slimy toothless cats. Assuming that Huskisson did not know what a snail mouth looks like, I believe the little warriors are needlessly worried, unless the snail is checking him out with its eyestalk to see if he is raspable.
I would now like to capture a snail and give it some leaves and see if it checks them out with its eyes before eating them. Also, I’d like to look at the edges of slug holes, because they always looked very crisp to me, like the edges of grasshopper bites, but they must not be, and I’d like to see that. Alas, such must wait until summer and figuring a way to lure some snails, because I haven’t seen a single one in New England yet.If I had some tiny naked warriors to use for bait, that might help.
And now for some snail knitting content.
And some holidays aren’t really my own traditional holidays, but I like them anyway.
Then comes the late autumn, when we have scenes like this.
And later autumn, still, when we have this.
And now we are getting to the good stuff.
In other news, I got a job. It seems like a real job so far, even though I’m not 100% certain of the name of the company I’m working at. But I do know the name of the guy I’m working for, and he did pay me, and I am doing work, so I’m calling it real. Seemed pretty sketchy at first, but now it only seems very marginally sketchy. The hours are good. I’d still like to work here and hopefully will someday, but I like where I am right now and what I’m doing.
Ohhh, and we did get those family additions a few weeks back, courtesy of Craigslist and a guy next town over who was just sick of them. Here they are — five molting Rhode Island Red hens. I admit, one of the five is already toast — taken by an unknown predator. We still let them roam during the day, but not all day long. At least not when there’s no one home. The other four are eating and drinking and crankin’ out eggs and scratching the hell out of all bark-covered and bare dirt areas they can find. I haven’t the heart to keep them in all the time, even if they might get taken by, well, pretty much any wild animal that lives in New England comes across our lot. So they’re in danger, yup. But they really like to roam, so I let them. They are very grumpy in their coop. Be free, chickens! They come back to their little henhouse at night, and I close them up safe. And Emerson is having fun
rushing at them and scattering herding them. He is actually helpful if I want to put them in during the day. Those hens got no respect for me and occasionally no interest in the yummy scratch I offer, but they worry about Emerson, and do what he says.
I’ll be back soon. We’re going to have some new additions to the family soon (not the human kind. The kind that’s much more likely to get killed and eaten eventually.) Here’s Halloween night, though. H’s mask did have two tubes on it, but an entire evening walking through the drizzle sort of melted the paper mache. But it will be re-glued, because I think this mask may be required for day-to-day use. I fear we may all be upgraded in the coming weeks.
Hey. Since my last post we moved (twice). First to Greenfield, MA.
Where I homeschooled H for third grade and put C in part-time pre-school
Now he’s in his second year of preschool, full-time nowadays.
And H is in fourth grade, both at the local town elementary.
H joined Cub Scouts (he’s in his second year now),
so he did Pinewood Derby
Bought a house in Northfield, MA with outbuildings and land.
Painted the house blue.
Had a bunch of holidays and birthdays.
Went to visit Oregon and back to Wanakena.
Got about 65% through writing a thesis.
Brad has a job at Deerfield Academy.
I’m looking for one. A job, not an academy.
In the meantime, I started weaving like crazy on small looms like frame looms, tri-pin looms, backstrap and inkle. And some tatting. Did one craft show with it this past weekend, which didn’t go particularly well, but being a glutton for punishment, I’m signed up for three more and am looking to get into a fourth.
Hokay, that’s about the re-cap. All I’m likely to get to, anyway.
So, moving right along. Today I met Laverne, esteemed teacher of backstrap weaving. I bought her book, but remained nearly monosyllabic, as usual when meeting someone I “know” from online, failing to even help them make the connection with my own online identity. I’m very stupid that way.
So, H is 8 now. I didn’t do a birthday post. Because I am inconsistent, essentially. But no matter! Because there are other significant childhood things to document! I am feeling proud of H lately. He is a big allowance saver. For instance, he saved his allowance (which was only $1.75 per week then), plus did extra chores, and also saved any gift money that came his way for about a year to buy himself a guitar. That was last fall, though — it’s not really news. More recently, he saved up for a fishing pole. Since then, he’s been fishing more. Here’s his first fish:
And, a few days later, his second fish. It might technically be his third. I’m not totally sure. But it was a trout, not a chub!
Fishing is a thing that requires patience. The first time I took H fishing, over a year ago, he didn’t get anything. Which is not shocking. In fact, I’ve since learned that that spot is a terrible place to fish — I’ve never gotten anything, not even many nibbles. Anyway, H thought that when one went fishing it meant immediately pulling fish after fish out of the water. Little waiting, sure pay-off. It was difficult to convince him that wasn’t the normal experience. So I was pleased to see his interest, and have been pleased to see his patience paying off, finally, too.
And then there’s the little matter of hiking Cat Mountain with his dad last weekend — a 10-mile trip. Since H is typically a pretty whiney hiker, I was extremely concerned that this trip would sour him on hiking pretty much forever, what with Brad insisting on going on, and H insisting he hates the whole idea. But nope, that apparently not what happened.
Then H finished second grade.
In non-eldest child developments, I finally got access to my study sites. Finally. After months. Now the only issue is lab access. Oh, yeah. And money. Also, having a firm study plan. Details, you know. Withoug disclosing any details on location, here are my sites. It’s all super secret, you know.
So my dog, Emerson, is a handful. He really is a sweetie, but some days his exuberance and energy are a bit much. I knew this before we got him, and I’m not really suprised, but some days on the ground are on the exhausting side.
But yesterday he really earned his kibble (plus treats). The kids, Emerson, and I were in the front yard messing about when Emerson suddenly took off barking his “threat” bark — straight toward (I thought) one of the Ranger School students. I can often call him off if he’s worried about a person, but he didn’t call off when I yelled. A moment later I saw it was actually a strange dog. Emerson had headed him off at the edge of the yard, and they were going through the usual dog get-acquainted rituals, when the strange dog made a beeline toward my kids. I had no hope of stopping of blocking him, so I just watched apprehensively. He was streaking toward them in that purposeful way a dog will take off after a deer or a rabbit or something, so I really didn’t know what would happen.
Know what happened? Emerson decided he didn’t like what was going down. So he ran alongside the strange dog and herded him away from the kids. Stood between the kids and the strange dog. Herded him away again. Again. Again. Until the dog’s owner successfully called him away.
I don’t think that strange dog was a true threat (saw him again today). But Emerson correctly assessed the situation to know that the dog’s intent was unclear, and he took the initiative to take care of business, using the least force needed. He was effective, serious, and in control of himself.
In short, he was fabulous.