Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Progress and plans, and a question

I've made progress on the sleeve on Kivrin's sweater. It's thirteen inches now, and I will be starting the other one this evening. I'm fairly pleased with the way this yarn knits up, and I think that it will wear well, which is a plus with anything for kids.

I also stopped by Yarning For You today (I had an appointment right next door, how could I not go?), and got one skein of Malabrigo laceweight in the Rhodesian colorway (a lovely burnt orangey color; I'll try to post a picture soon -- they don't have it on the color card on that link, but it's a darker version of the glazed carrot colorway). I have been thinking more and more of a pullover that I want to make for myself (this is what happens when I lie awake in bed at night, dreading a confrontational conversation that I need to have with someone, and trying to distract myself). It was going to be fairly simple, just a V-neck, but the more I think about it, the more I think I want to do something a bit more unique. Assuming that my Kiv sweater works out (my first foray into designing anything other than very simple socks), I'll do this one over the winter, once I've finished Bianca's Jacket.

However, since it's going to involve some construction, I thought I'd better play around first to see if it's even possible to do what I want, and whether this yarn is going to work with the kinds of cables I'm visualizing, or whether it knits up at such a fine gauge that I'll be chewing my arms off before I finish. What I have in mind is a pullover with a small four-stranded cable around the bottom. I'll knit the bottom half with the rows going vertically and the cable on one side (which will then be the bottom); with a provisional cast-on, and leaving the end row on the needles, I should be able to work the cables into an upright seam binding the two bits together up the middle of the front. Then I'll pick up stitches along the top end to knit the top in the round, dividing for a v-neck part way up (keeping the cable in the center). The real trick will be to divide the cables to go around the neck (as I have it visualized now). If I do it the way I'm thinking, the only seaming I'll be doing is to get the sleeves into the armholes, which, since I've never done a sweater this way, should be a challenge to figure out anyway. I think I'll be breaking out The Knitter's Handy Guide to Sweater Patterns for some help on when and how much to decrease for that.

So, there's the plan. I'll take two brand-new sock projects with me to the UP (Millicent, and the Boudica socks which I just ordered from Wooly Wonka Fibers), and this skein of yarn to play with. That's gonna do it, right? Of course, then I'm tempted to take the pattern dictionary, and the cable book to see if I can maybe design a knotwork pattern of my own, and it wouldn't be a lot of extra space to include the yarn and pattern for the Icarus I'm planning to make for my aunt (since she flat-out demanded one when she saw mine), and that nice skein of Tofutsies that's been marinating in the stash in case I have time for another pair of socks... Is that overkill (if I'm going carry on)? Oy.

So, the question. How many (and what) knitting projects would you take on a ten-day trip to a camp in the woods, involving (each way) a four-hour flight and about nine-hour car ride? Be honest.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

No pictures, just musing

I haven't been tremendously productive knitting, lately, so this is a pictureless post. I did recalculate the number of stitches I need for the sleeve of the sweater I'm creating for Kivrin, so I ripped out the five inches I'd done and started over. I think it's better, and since it's just stockinette, I've made up my time, and am now back where I started. I don't think I'll be taking it with me on the trip; it's a pretty bulky cotton yarn, which will take up more suitcase space than I want.

I'm still trying to make the "to carry on or not to carry on" decision. I prefer, strongly prefer in fact, to go carry-on when at all possible, and am, as a consequence, really good at fitting everything into a suitcase and a small backpack. The kids are equally good (I've long had this obsession, but it really gelled when I first travelled alone with a small child and had to both hang on to said child and fetch luggage from a carousel; so much easier just to go carry on). They've been managing their own luggage since Tess was 6 and Kiv 3, so that's not an issue. It's the liquid rules that are thwarting me now. I can manage on small amounts of shampoo and shaving cream and all, but getting enough shampoo for the kids is tougher. And I'd like to bring some chocolates for my SIL, whose family so kindly lets her bring us along to their camp in the UP, so I'd need to check the rules on that. Sigh... At least knitting needles aren't a problem here in the states.

We had an excellent day yesterday. I took the girls to see Hairspray with a friend of theirs and her mother. We all really liked it. I'm a total sucker for upbeat music to start with, and I loved both the body-image and the integration messages; very good for the kids to hear. I've never been a skinny person. Even as a lower-weight person, I was built with hips, which has always made waistbands an issue for me (if something fits the hips, it will gap a good six or more inches in the waist; ridiculous). I have this feeling that I should have been born in an earlier age, when people would have looked at me and not thought "no discipline", but rather "good famine survival material". Having daughters has been a challenge for me in terms of watching my tendency to say self-deprecating things about my body; I want so much for them to see themselves, not in terms of social fads in body type, but in terms of how healthy and strong their bodies are, and what they can do. So, I'm trying very hard to learn how to do that myself.

I was making some serious strides in that realm for a while, and then faced a huge challenge last summer when I had back surgery. After two years of pain due to a ruptured disc that was pushing on my sciatic nerve, I started to lose sensation and muscle strength in my leg and ended up having surgery that replaced the disc with a spacer and fused two vertebra together with titanium rods and bone grafts. Someday maybe I'll write more about that experience, but for now, the relevant point is that I couldn't do anything I'd been able to do before. Really, not anything; for a long time, my foot dropped every time I tried to pick it up. This does not make for graceful walking. It's not been until recently that I've been pain-free at the surgical site, let alone in my leg. That's a long time. And all of the things I'd become strong enough to do with my body weren't possible, and that meant that all of my learning to be proud of my body not because of how it looked, but because of what it could do, had to be relearned at a different level. I had to be proud that I could walk around the block, because frankly it was hard to do that. And I had to learn to be proud of doing things that looked easy to everyone else; talk about needing to let go of all external markers of achievement! It was quite a lesson for me.

I'm not saying I've really fully learned it, but I did definitely learn to be grateful for small things. Like being able to sit in a theater for two hours watching my girls enjoy a movie without pain. Like being able to touch my toes again in yoga (nope, still can't kiss my knees again, but I can wave at them from a closer angle now). Like being able to take my family to the Wild Animal Park and walk without pain (which we also did yesterday evening; so beautiful and fun!). It's been an amazing lesson in mindfulness, and in learning that sometimes The Plan just doesn't happen as, well, planned. And that I can learn something from what happened instead.

I also had to let go of all of the judgments I got from friends and acquaintances about what I should have tried before cutting my body open. I had to trust that I knew when the time had come, and that I had tried everything I could beforehand, and not rushed into surgery. Everyone's body is different, and knowing that I have finally, after a year of working at it, begun to regain some muscle control in my thigh tells me that I fixed this problem none too soon. I'm pretty clear on the fact that I'd rather walk around with titanium in my back for the rest of my life than not be able to walk well at all. But (in case the small tinge of self-justification here didn't give it away) it doesn't mean that I still don't feel judged by people saying, "but did you try ABC first?", and "my XX worked really hard at Y, and that fixed everything without surgery". It has definitely been another opportunity for me to pay attention to how and why I feel about those statements like I do, and an chance to remind myself to trust my judgment above all else.

So, this is all by way of saying that I have been feeling grateful lately. Grateful for what my body can do, and for what I have had a chance to learn about me in the past year. Grateful for my daughters and my husband and for the time we get to spend together. Grateful for my friends both for supporting me and for offering me opportunities to work on my Stuff. Life is good.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I finished the modified Jaywalkers last night! After trying the first one on Kivrin and realizing just how fast she's growing, I thought I'd better bust a move.

The most amazing thing to me is that they ended up matching almost exactly. Talk about serendipity. The matching was unplanned, and only happened because I pulled too long a tail for the long-tail cast-on. I even considered recasting, just to keep from wasting the extra bit of yarn (I was nervous about having enough; it came very close in the end), but I didn't, and now the stripes are almost exactly the same. The best bit about that, even better than having matching socks, was how easy it made it to see whether I was making them the same length -- y'know, after the third pink stripe, time to start the heel, etc. Very nice.

I've actually been thinking a lot about serendipity lately (making the matching nature of the socks even more, well, serendipitous). It has always been one of my very favorite words, ever since I read a book as a child entitled Serendipity (early hints of my future career, maybe?). I like it because of how much fun it is to say (serendipity serendipity serendipity; I defy you to say that and not feel better about life); because of the nice root morpheme "serene"; and because of what it means. The idea that sometimes, things just work out, not because they're planned or worked out ahead of time, but just because life is like that, is one which inspires me. I think it inspires me because you have to be paying attention for serendipity to really happen; mindfulness is key, and mindfulness is something I need more of. Potentially serendipitous things happen all the time, but we miss them because we're focusing on the plan. When we take our eyes off the plan for a little bit, sometimes new avenues open up that are so much more, somehow, than the path we thought we were on.

I just finished the book Three Cups of Tea. Talk about serendipity. Here's this man, planning to summit K2, who, on the way down from his unsuccessful attempt, gets lost. Loses his porter, loses his way, and ends up in a remote village that he never, in a million years, would have gone to on purpose. And in that village, he is taken to see the "school" that the children attend. Because the village can't afford the $1/day fee for a teacher to come every day, the teacher only comes a few times a week, and on the other days, the students gather, by themselves, in a field to work on their lessons, which many of them must scratch in the dirt with a stick (can you imagine most American kids doing this?!). And seeing that, this climber decides that he is going to raise the money to build them a school. The book is about him and what he did, and how it led to him building 55 schools (and counting) in Pakistan and Afghanistan, schools which educate both boys and girls, and which provide them with alternatives to conservative madrassas.

So, the message of the book is that education creates opportunity. Again and again this man finds moderate Muslims who want their children to get a solid education in math, science, and language arts; all of their children, mind you, including their girls. And the point is that when these children grow up, they have resources which provide them with a wider range of options than they might otherwise have. Of course, I'm biased towards a message like that. I'm an educator myself, and if there is one thing that I think is vital, it is the ability to reason critically and clearly. I hammer my students with the idea that education is the only thing that makes a democracy work, that we need to think critically to make good choices for ourselves, our communities, and our nation, and that a good education can teach us to do that. Now, you and I may both think clearly about something and come to different conclusions, but we are far more likely to be able to work together in spite of those differences if we're thinking, rather than spouting dogma.

And this man wouldn't have built these schools if he hadn't gotten lost. And, as importantly, if he hadn't kept paying attention to what was going on around him instead of focusing on his failed bid for the summit of K2. In thinking about this, I realize that my career, in many ways, is the result of this kind of serendipity. I was going to be a lawyer. And then I took a class in linguistics for my French minor, and everything changed. I was going to be a historical linguist, specializing in Celtic languages, and I had a conversation with a professor about language revitalization, and everything changed. The Native California group I work with now, who have been so tremendously generous with me, and whom I consider to be close friends, I met only because I was assigned to help them at a conference. And here we are, five years later, embroiled in an ongoing struggle to document and revitalize their language. Serendipity.

I should mention, by the way, that serendipity isn't always a bed of roses. This guy who built the schools, Greg Mortenson, is doing amazing things. But he's not perfect. He's always late, and he's away from home months at a time. I think he'd probably drive me nuts (I like being on time, and I like having my husband home to help with day-to-day living), but it doesn't mean he's not doing amazing work. I think that this is often true of people who do this kind of intense, vitally important work; they're hard to live with. I know that I wouldn't want to be married to many people I've worked with on language revitalization. They're obsessed, and understandably so, but it's hard to be close to someone like that sometimes. On the other hand, many of them find spouses who are the kind of people who are more patient and understanding, and less selfish than I am, and that's serendipity, too. And I think that by doing this work, and trying very hard to live up to what people need of a linguist doing this research while being a good mother, wife, and person, I keep growing in ways that I never expected. Serendipity.

Wow, philosophy from socks. Who knew?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It's hot

It is definitely hotter today than it has been. Kia Ora agrees:
Gwilim thinks it's kind of fun, because the birds are so active. He wants to play with them.
I don't know why it suddenly got hot, since this past weekend has been warm and humid, but not hot. I'm glad it wasn't too hot, though, because we had a busy weekend.

My parents came in from out of town for a visit, which was great fun, especially for the girls, who love being spoiled by Memere and Grandpa. On Friday night, Tess went to bed early so that we could go to the midnight release of Harry Potter. She's a little young for it, but I figured she's read them all (multiple times), and this is the last one, so we went. My friend had picked up our ticket, but since we hadn't reserved the book in advance (I dithered about whether to take her until the last minute), we were in the last group (First Years). I was sure we'd have to bail and pick one up on Saturday (but figured it had still been fun for her to see the spectacle), when my friend, who had been in the second group, came out of the crowd at 12:30, waving not one, but TWO books. They'd let her buy and extra for us, and we were outta there. Talk about happy endings.

Tess finished the book on Saturday, and I finished it at midnight Sunday (way too much to do this week to be distracted). No spoilers here. We can talk about it later when everyone who is going to read it has done so.

On Saturday, we had a relaxing day (with a mandatory recovery nap for the girls), and then headed down to San Diego to go see the pops symphony play a concert, part of which was to accompany some of the performers from Cirque du Soleil (absolutely one of my all-time favorite groups). It was amazing. The music was beautiful, and the performers just blew us away. I can't believe the things that they can do with their bodies while making it look so easy! It's unreal, and makes me think that I should go to yoga classes more than once a week (lol). The San Diego symphony is really quite good, and after I hear them I always wonder why we don't go more often. The last piece they played was Ravel's Bolero, which I'd never heard performed live before. Y'know, I've said it before, and I'll say it again: there's a reason why some pieces are so famous they're almost trite. It's because they're brilliant. Bolero's one of them. I loved hearing the theme get handed off to a new instrument while the old one took a turn at the underlying rhythm; music like that is so tremendously engaging, and it's fun to listen to the whole symphony for a while, then focus on one instrument, then pan out again (auditorally speaking) to the whole.

On Sunday we went to the beach. A good time was had by all.
(This last one is Tess headed for the waves with a boogie board in hand.) It was so humid on the beach that the water actually started falling from the sky. I believe they call it rain, but we haven't seen any in so long that I'm not sure. It certainly cleared the beach off quickly though, and we repurposed our sun umbrellas quickly.

I got quite a bit of knitting done on the beach, and finished the first modified Jaywalker. I started the second Sunday night while we watched an episode of Planet Earth -- talk about amazing nature photography! We also watched the Tour last night, which was some serious knitting time. So I've turned the heel on the second sock, and am gusseting away madly.
I'm happy with them after all; I wasn't sure after messing with the pattern like I did, but now I am. I also got the yarn for Tess' Millicents. I ordered the yarn from The Loopy Ewe -- I love them! They're so very nice and speedy, and their yarn selection is amazing. I don't know how they do it, but they always put a personalized note on the order slip, too; they must never sleep.
The color doesn't really quite come through here, but it's a perfect navy blue for school socks. I'm thinking that I'll not start these until we leave on our trip to the U.P. next Friday; I'm guessing that knee-socks might be enough of a knitting project to last the week. Although with two eight-hour drives and flying time to Chicago in the offing, maybe not. OK, now I'm reconsidering. But I don't want to bring along Kiv's sweater; it's bulky and will take up WAY too much room. Maybe more socks? Then when I get home, I'll be ready to dive into sweaters? Maybe I could start Bianca's jacket? That yarn's light. Hmmm... Decisions, decisions.

All right, I'm off to try to get inspired to work in spite of the heat. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pictures and some griping

I've been working steadily on Hanami, but I'm at the point in a shawl when the purl rows seem everlasting, and the patterned rows go too quickly. I'm over halfway done, and I'm into the part that should go quickly because of the way the pattern is set up. The basketweave part involved doing one chart seven times. Now I'm at the part where there are six charts, each to be done once. I'm the sort of person for whom finishing something is a bit of an incentive, so this is the sort of thing that should keep me moving, right? Like, get through 30 rows, finish a chart! Another 30 rows, and I've finished a chart! The sheer joy of getting through the charts is the sort of thing that usually keeps me moving.

But it's not. I can't tell if it's because the yarn is a bit darker than I had envisioned (I keep thinking it's winter colors, instead of the summery colors I had in mind), or because it's narrower than I'd envisioned, and I'm not sure if it'll block out as big as I think it should.

You can see that I've started the falling cherry blossoms part of the stole, and I'm thinking that it'll probably go faster, especially right now, when there's so much plain old knitting between yos and k2togs. But the more I knit, the less I have (or is this black hole phenomenon just me?). I keep slogging at it, though, because I'm afraid that if I put it down, it'll be years before I pick it up again (don't laugh, this has happened with at least two other big shawl projects).

It could also be that I have startitis. I actually ordered some sock yarn today, so that I can knit Millicent for my older daughter for starting school (I love these socks with a fairly unreasonable passion, but knee-highs just aren't my thing -- navy blue knee-highs are, however, perfect with her uniform). I also am realizing that I really like triangle shawls rather than stoles, at least to knit. I'm a bit on the short side to wear them well; I tend to look even wider than usual. But there's something about knitting triangles that's satisfying.

Maybe it's that the pattern on Hanami isn't showing up quite as clearly as I'd envisioned; I'm hoping that blocking it will really increase the distinction between the positive and negative spaces on this one (blocking as miracle worker, part 368).

Maybe it's because I really want to start on Bianca's Jacket, from last fall's Interweave Knits. I even have the yarn, which I picked up months ago on big sale, and am looking forward to using (it's a beautiful linen blend). See?

Or, I could allow myself to be distracted into finishing yet another UFO that I haven't copped to yet, the glorious Anemoi Mittens:
I started these in December after I'd finished the girls' mittens, when we were going to Tahoe for Christmas. We got back from Tahoe, and I'd finished just this much. Have I mentioned that we live in north San Diego county? And that we're in a drought year? I have not been particularly inspired to knit mittens. Usually, I'm more of a texture (cables and lace) than a color person in any case (this is true in my taste for visual art of all sorts, and, in many ways, musical art, if music can be spoken of this way), but this colorwork has texture, if you know what I mean. It reminds me a little bit of Maori tattoos, which I think are amazing. I'm grappling now with deciding whether to actually finish these as mittens, or whether to wrap this one up (this is almost the end of the patterned part), and make them fingerless mitts. I actually do wear fingerless mitts around here in the winter when I'm doing things outside, or walking the dog on a cold morning, so I'd probably use them more that way. What do y'all think?

Meanwhile, this dithering while not producing is carrying over in the rest of my life, too, or the rest of my life is affecting my knitting, which is more likely; when I feel this overwhelmed, I tend to go the escape-into-a-book route. I have two big projects to finish up for work, as well as a brand-new class to develop, and I'd hoped to have them done before we leave for Michigan at the beginning of August (cue insane laughter). However, I cannot seem to settle down. I wrote over 1,000 words on my paper this morning, but I know that things are desperate when I'm actually paying attention to word count this way; usually I just write what needs to be written, and don't worry about the length. This, however, is a co-authored chapter that's coming out of a paper I presented almost two years ago, and I just can't seem to get my head into it. And, with a co-author, I feel even more obliged to be actually producing something, which makes the non-productiveness worse. Maybe I'll go read some more relevant articles written by someone else and try to get inspired.

It doesn't help that I got a difficult call from a friend this morning, about something that happened with my daughter. DD acted up, but after hearing my friend tell the story I can't help but feel that she was goaded to some degree (not OK to act up, but worth noting, and I think that's why my friend told me the story), and I can't decide how to handle it. It has definitely given me that horrible, sick, something's not quite right feeling of dread in my stomach, and even a walk with the dog hasn't quite dispelled it. It also doesn't help that I got my sale books from Interweave Knits today (much earlier than expected):
and I'd really rather be reading A History of Hand Knitting than writing a paper on the gendering of border studies. Is that a bad sign?

I promise, less griping and more knitting next time.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ode to Kitchener

A finished object! Actually two, since there's a pair of them, but I'd finished the first one (what feels like) ages ago. I'm SO glad to get a project off the needles. As strange as it sounds, I truly prefer to only have about two projects going at a time: one small portable one, and one more complicated one for doing at home in the evening. The problem is that sometimes my small portable one is too complicated for doing easily in meetings, and then I start a third project, or something comes up that I just need to do right then, and...well, you can imagine. So, I have had the four projects going that I've confessed to (plus one or two others of which we shall not speak, and which may at some point return to their original, yarn-y, state), and now I've gotten one done! It's the Traveller's Stockings, from Knitting on the Road (which I very much like). Here they are, in all their I-took-this-picture-at-night-in-bad-light glory.
(that one's all bleached out; the color's much nicer)

In my opinion, the absolute best bit about finishing socks, the part that I look forward to the entire time I'm knitting them, even more than getting to wear hand-knitted socks (since I actually don't get to wear nearly as many hand-knitted socks as my kids do), is grafting them together at the end. I can honestly say that this is my one and only serious objection to toe-up socks: no grafting. I don't know what it is, but there is something absolutely magical about running a needle, knitwise, then purlwise, through a bunch of stitches, and coming out with a piece of fabric that looks as if it had always been whole. It's a leap of faith. I can honestly say that I can't entirely visualize how it works, but I know the steps to take, and I know that it comes out right every time. A small miracle, and who can't use more of those?

I realized, last night as I kitchenered away (and, btw, I can't find out, even on wikipedia, who this amazing Kitchener is, but don't you think we should have a special day for her, or him, whichever it is?), I realized that it is precisely those small miracles that I take such pleasure in. The ones where, step by step, small piece by small piece, something very big and amazing and so much more than the sum of its parts is created. I think that raising children is like this. You get up at night when they have earaches, and you bathe them (endlessly), and you cook for and eventually with them, and you talk to them, and you listen, and you take amazing amounts of pleasure in their company, and you threaten to sell them on eBay, and you come to realize that there's this person standing in front of you who is the sum of all of that plus some indefinable something that is ineffable. And so very wonderful and real. Cooking is like that on a smaller scale, and gardening (at which I suck, but still), and of course, knitting.

Marriages are also, I think, like that. Yesterday was our 13th wedding anniversary, and as of this past April, DH and I had been together 18 years. That's half of my life. And our older daughter was born nine years ago, so that's half of our life together (she was impressed by all of these halves, so I thought I'd throw that in there). And we've had our rough times, and we've had our amazing times, and we've had all of those times in between where you're just doing what needs to be done, sometimes together, sometimes apart, sometimes just in one another's presence. And all of that together makes up this thing that we call a "marriage". And I think that it's something to be proud of, and a little bit in awe of. I mean, here I am, in this relationship with a person with whom I have been through the most exhilarating moments of my life, as well as some of the absolute worst. And mostly, we don't really think about that fact when we're together; we just do what we do. In fact, after 18 years, I know that a lot of the time, we look at each other without necessarily seeing -- not in any blind or bad way, but because there's a knowledge there that doesn't look for the ways that our faces or forms have changed over that time. And then I really look at him sometimes, and dang! He really does look different at 40 than he did at 22 (don't we all, baby!). And I feel very glad that I know what he looked like at 22 and at 40, and I wonder what he'll look like at 60 and 80.

I'm blathering, but there it is. Kitchener and marriage. One small bit at a time, making a seamless whole.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Don't talk

Just a short post to say that, if you haven't already read the Harlot today, you should (OK, the assumption that there's someone reading my blog who hasn't read the Yarn Harlot makes me giggle, but just in case...). Fair warning, if you're a feminist or know and like women at all, this is going to make you sick. The short of it is that Tory Bowen, a pre-law student, is accusing a man of rape (I'm trying to be unpredjudicial here) and the judge at the trial where she is bringing her charges against her attacker has said that she cannot use the words rape, sexual assault, victim, attacker, assailant, or forced in her testimony. Neither can anyone else. It's apparently too prejudicial. This means that she has to describe her experience -- as if having to describe something so horrific in public weren't bad enough -- as "sex" or "intercourse". Now, as a linguist (and a cognitive linguist to boot), I can tell you flat out that the word "sex" calls to mind a cognitive model which involves consent on the part of the two people involved in the act. That may not always be the case, but it is most definitely the prototype. This judge is saying, quite rightly, that "rape" implies non-consent on the part of one participant, but is allowing, nay insisting upon, the use of a word which implies mutual consent. All I have to say is, what the HELL? I mean, really people. I thought we were past this kind of ridiculous prejudice against women. OK, I'm rereading that sentence, and I know better, I really do. I just keep hoping that I'm wrong. And I'm not. Now I have another article for my office door, another incident to tell my students about when they tell me that feminism is unnecessary and passe. I'll be filling out the complaint form against the judge which is mentioned in the comments on Stephanie's post, assuming I'm allowed as a California resident (the url is: http://www.supremecourt.ne.gov/rules/pdf/complaint.pdf), and trying to find a way to write to my state senators. I see a Supreme Court case in the offing; I'm just afraid that it won't go well... What's next? Telling victims of spousal abuse that they can't say they were hit by the assailant? What would they say? How much of the passive voice can we use and still be saying anything at all?

Here are some article links for those who, very rightly, like to check out other versions of the story:

We made it

And it is such a relief to be home! I baked muffins this morning (anyone noting a trend here? baking after home disruption is so soothing), and the girls are quietly playing dress-up while I play catch-up. I've been updating my stash and WIPs at Ravelry, as well as wading through my email. The drive yesterday was completely uneventful, which is a miracle after the week we've had.

Someone asked in the comments last week what kind of linguist I am, and I haven't had a chance to answer. I supposed I'd have to answer that my theoretical leanings are towards anthropological and cognitive linguistics, and that my practical leanings are towards language revitalization. I have spent the past five years working closely with the last speaker of a Native Californian language spoken in the northern part of the state, doing documentation and revitalization work. We're in the middle of planning a series of language camps that we're hoping to do this fall, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it all comes together. I've been involved one way or another with language revitalization work in California since early in grad school, and it is definitely where my linguistic heart lies. It's hard that the group I work with is so far away (about 600 miles), which means a lot of either driving or flying on my part. I had to have back surgery last summer, which really slowed me down for a while, but that's finally healed, so I'm getting back into the swing of fieldwork. It's hard to describe how simultaneously exhilarating and stressful this kind of work is; on the one hand, when the speaker remembers a word that she hasn't used in years, it's such a thrill for all of us, but there's always the background knowledge that this is it -- what we get is what there is, and that this really matters for future generations of her Tribe.

On the knitting front, I did manage to get through the patterned part of the socks I'm working on, and am well on my way to the heel. A few relaxing days, and that pair should be done. Here's where I confess that I haven't been entirely honest about the number of projects on the needles at this moment. Not only am I working on Hanami and the socks, but there's another pair of socks:
These are modified Jaywalkers that I'm doing for my younger daughter out of some Sockota yarn I had left after making another pair of socks. The way I've changed them (so that there's only one stitch between the kfb and dd, instead of a bunch) makes the stripes less visible; I'm thinking I'd probably make them smaller another way the next time. I've got the heel turned on these, and am on my way down the foot, but, of course, this is only the first one, so there's still another to go. These would be the traffic school socks, except that I have to look when doing the double decrease, and that might be too obvious.

I'm also knitting a sweater for my younger one, which I am making up as I go along (actually, to be honest, I've planned it out fairly well, I think). The body up to the armpits is done:
And I'm on to the sleeves, which is actually where I stalled out.
They're going to be too big with this many stitches, so I need to recalculate so the stitches all fit when I put it together for the yoke. I've knit the body in one piece (it's a cardigan), and once the sleeves are knit, I'll put them all together on a circular, and knit the yoke. I'll be doing a feather and fan lace pattern, and hide the decreases in that. This means that the only seaming I'll have to do will be some kitchener stitch in the armpits (I hate seaming, but have a very odd love for kitchener stitching; there's something just miraculous about finishing it and having no evidence that there was ever a hole there). Actually, thinking about it, the sleeves for this would be perfect traffic school knitting. Assuming that traffic school happens soon -- I feel like I've been waiting long enough on this one. The yarn is a recycled cotton which I really like the feel of; I think it'll get softer as it's washed, which makes it a perfect kids' yarn.

I think I also mentioned I fell down the other day at a yarn store? Well, I did. It was a very nice small store in Novato, with no web site, alas (it's called 2 Petite Knitterie). The owner was very friendly, and kindly admired Hanami (talk about knowing the way to a knitter's heart). I got a Lantern Moon bag I'd seen on their website and liked (it was on sale --1/3 off! -- so I argue that it shouldn't count; also I've been lusting after it for a while).
That doesn't really show the color very well; it's a nice dark blacky-brown. What I particularly like about it is that it stands up on its own, which makes it easier to find things inside. I also got a GoKnit pouch, which I've had in mind to get for a while, but really wanted to see in person. My LYS down here doesn't carry them, so I was really excited to actually get to play with one before pulling the trigger. The colors are gorgeous on these things, really bright and happy (which I needed some of, after last week). I settled on the blue, with some daughterly input (it was either that, or purple -- hard choice).
(It's already been inhabited by a sock.) It has a lovely little snapped loop inside that you can run your yarn through so it doesn't get tangled, and a snapped loop outside that can hook to a bag, or chair, or belt. I should have gotten more pictures of the inside, but I forgot.

Then, she had Sox Stix, and I picked up a set of #3s, in the dark wood.

I've been wanting to try sox stix for a while; they're shorter than I usually use (5 inches, as opposed to my usual 7 for wood dpns, and 6 for my Celtic Swan #1s). I can't tell whether I'll like that or not, but it seemed worth a try, since I can use #3s for DH's socks. If I like them enough, I'll get 2s. So, all of that, while quite a whack of goods to get at one go, includes things that I've been keeping my eye on for a while, but have only found online. I suppose I could argue that I saved myself shipping? (Maybe?)

This yarn, however, while in the sale bin, was pure retail therapy, which I don't indulge in often, but I guess this yarn store visit was my binge for the summer.
Look at those colors! How could I not get them, all squeezed together in a little bag with a sale tag on them? They'll be a scarf for the fall. Anyone have any ideas on scarves with two yarns held together?

Now, I'm off to buy milk.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Going home

Just posting quickly to say that things here are back on track, and we're heading home today. We'll be sleeping in our own beds tonight!! The girls and I have been gone since last Monday, and as of Sunday morning, we'd slept in four different homes in six nights. It'll be good to land.

Thanks so much for all of the comments. I love the story about the Russian gentleman; isn't it funny what the brain does in odd moments of stress? I had a friend whose grandmother, when suffering from end-stage Alzheimer's, stopped speaking English altogether, and went back to German, the language she'd spoken as a child. But my grandmother, who spoke French as her first, and for many years dominant, language (a very unique dialect spoken in Woonsocket, RI, if you can believe), kept using English right up to the end, even though her Alzheimer's was so bad she couldn't remember her 50-year marriage at all (when we asked her if she remembered being married, she'd invariably say, "oh, no dear. I would never have gotten married". Interesting).

Grandmom is doing much better. She's back in her assisted living facility, and the girls and I have been spending several hours with her every day. We'll go see her once again this morning, and leave from there to head down south. I've been trying hard to keep the kids' schedules at least a little bit normal with all of this, and to do something fun with them each day (hiking, used bookstores, etc). We also visited a local yarn store yesterday (I need something to distract me, too, right?), which I'll post about in detail tomorrow, but suffice it to say that I fell down. Hard. To the tune of some Sox Stix, and a Lantern Moon bag, and some yarn, and one of those nifty sock pouches. I'll give lots of details tomorrow, with pictures.

Send good driving thoughts! And let's hope that the books on CD that we got from the library hold out as we head down the state.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

What a week

Hi, all --
Thanks to everyone who left comments -- I'm so sorry I haven't responded. We left town last Monday, and this trip has really not gone quite as planned. The night before we left, my younger daughter woke up with an ear infection, so Monday morning, we were off to the doctor before leaving town, which took two hours, and put us a bit behind. We made it to Sacramento by 6:00, which wasn't half bad for covering 500 miles. On Tuesday, I went to Clear Lake to do some linguistic fieldwork (this is the part of my life that has nothing to do with knitting; more on that later when I'm not doing a frantic catch-up post), and managed to get hit on the windshield by a rock. By the time I'd driven another 300 miles (some of it over very wash-boardy dirt roads), the crack had propagated over quite a bit of the windshield, which meant I knew we'd have to get the windshield replaced before heading home. I picked my husband up from the airport that night, and Wednesday morning, we headed for the Bay Area to visit his family. Of course, that didn't exactly go as planned, either; DH's bike was stolen from our locked car roof rack while we were in Moe's Books on Telegraph. In broad daylight, on the fourth of July, on the street. From a locked rack (which is now destroyed). So, that's two more deductibles (one for the car insurance for the roof rack, one for the homeowners for the bike; our insurance is fairly cranky about all of this). Then off to Novato to visit DH's grandmother, who, it turns out, had just been hospitalized for severe dehydration (very long story); when we visited, she was in a complete delerium (there is a sort of strange fascination with watching someone see things that no one else can see, but it has been tremendously hard on all of us to see her so helpless). So, we spent the better part of two days in and out of the hospital with her (I can't believe how well the girls are holding up with all of this change and strangeness). She is still there, and it now turns out that we are staying several extra days to help out with getting her out of the hospital and into the rehab hospital.

Hence this quick post. I didn't want anyone to think I'd fallen off the face of the earth permanently. With luck, I'll have a few extra minutes tomorrow between hospital visits to write a longer post. For the moment, on the knitting front, I'm halfway done with Hanami, but did not finish it for the wedding reception yesterday (of a piece with the whole trip, no?). On a good note, I'm guessing that I'll be getting a lot of knitting done on the two pairs of socks on the needles while sitting next to Grandmom in the hospital (as an interesting aside, DH's cousin and I suddenly noticed that what seemed like random hand twitching was actually Grandmom doing imaginary knitting -- she seemed to find it as soothing as I find the real thing... what a strange thing, that she was knitting, even though she hasn't knitted in the real world in the 18 years that I've known her. It's funny what we go back to...). Anyway, if anyone is reading, thanks for sticking with me through the silence.