Thursday, August 30, 2007

They're back!

It's good to have the girls home. I went to the airport to get them yesterday, and aside from how nice it was to give them huge hugs, it just feels more natural to have them in proximity. Having them gone didn't make me feel panicky or worried, but I did feel like there was something missing from my radar screen, like when someone moves something in your house, and you have this subliminal feeling of awryness. Not anymore. Now I have someone to say "don't chew with your mouth open" to again. How I missed that. (ha)

Rick is taking his mother to the airport his morning, so as of tonight, we're back to normal. (again, ha) We need to gear up for school to start on Tuesday; I'll need to get school shoes and tennies for the kids this weekend, and it's clear that they will need to sleep. I know they had a blast visiting their grandparents, but with Tess especially, I can see that she didn't get enough alone time and she's at her limit (she burst into tears this morning before getting in the car to go to the airport; she needs to rest and not have to talk to anyone for a while -- she and I both burn out if we need to be around other people for too long without a break). So I'll need to plan for quiet this weekend, which (on the bright side) will be conducive to finishing the second Millicent. Now that I'm on to the ribbing, this one will move fast; I can do this kind of knitting while reading, talking, watching TV, anything I want (except cooking; I've found that wool and cast iron don't mix too well) without paying too much attention.

I wish I'd brought it with me to work this morning. I'm in the middle of dealing with a situation here that is making me feel sick and uncomfortable, and I'm guessing that knitting a few rows would help. There's not much else to say about it, except that I have to decide if this is a go-to-the-wall kind of fight, or if I'm all right with letting it go. Alas. I'll just keep practicing yogic breathing and hoping for the best.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Memory lane

The kids are coming home tomorrow! They've clearly been having a wonderful time. We got a few pictures the first day.
They're happy. So, I'm happy. Rick and I have been taking advantage of having this space alone. We've gone to the movies (saw the Bourne Ultimatum; I don't know who thought they were being artsy with the camera work, but I literally couldn't watch the screen for most of the movie -- it made me too sick because the camera was jerking around so much. I should've brought my knitting), and out to dinner (whole conversations NOT involving who is going to order which kids' meal!). On Sunday, we went to Pasadena to see an exhibit at the Huntington Library; it's called Legacy, and is composed of images of Native Americans in early American art. It was good, but I had my usual problem with it, which is to say that most exhibits about Native Americans end ominously sometime in the early 1900's. The unspoken message is that they're gone, it's over, and all we can do is look back regretfully (such a safe way to see this part of American history). As someone who knows damn well that Native cultures are vibrant, changing, living things, it's disconcerting; as someone who works with young people who have no idea that Native cultures are still present and vital, it's disappointing, and I think it's somewhat irresponsible. I also took Rick into the library rooms to see the Gutenberg Bible and the Ellesmere Chaucer, which were what brought me to the Huntington the first time (I was an English and Comp Lit major in college); he'd never seen them before and humored me by being appropriately impressed (much like the time I dragged him to see the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum, and he kindly acted like he was in no way embarrassed by standing next to a teary-eyed wife in front of a carved rock -- good man -- it was just so cool, though, that I couldn't help myself! This is how I know I'm a linguist...).

We also went to the Gamble House, which I'd never seen but had heard about from Rick, who went there on a college class field trip. All I can say is, damn, it must be good to be both rich and possessed of taste, because the combination is stunning. It's a beautiful house, and since Rick and I are both fans of mission style architecture, it was fun to see together.

Probably the most interesting thing we did, though, was to go back to our college campus (we met at Occidental when I was a freshman and he was a junior, and we lived in the same dorm; I was flirting with his roommate, and he was dating someone else when we first met -- the rest is history). Neither of us had been back since I graduated, some ahem-cough 15 years ago. When we got there, it turned out that it was the start of orientation week, and freshman and RAs were pouring in to the dorms. We almost snuck into Pauley, the dorm where we met, but figured it'd be better not to scare the freshman by looking like aging stalkers. As it was, we definitely got a few of the "who are those old geezers" looks; ah, youth. We wandered by the pool house (and valiantly refrained from telling the students nearby that you can sneak in to go skinny dipping by climbing over the roof and jumping into the pool from the overhang) and by the statue that a friend of ours at Cal Tech had kidnapped for a while, and by the cafeteria, which is still called Clancy's, after a cook who retired when we were there (and who was very upset to find that all of her forks had disappeared one week, only to discover them planted upright through all of the flower beds around the building); I'm guessing the students now have no idea why they call it that. It was odd to be there together so many years later -- it hasn't changed all that much, but we most definitely have.

We finished the evening by going out to dinner at Burger Continental, where we used to go out on dates. This time, though, we didn't have to order the deal-on-wheels falafel sandwich (the cheapest thing on the menu at $5.95, which includes all-you-can-eat salad bar and soup) -- we could get whatever we wanted. Ah, age. (I would say, maturity, but I'm pretty sure we're not there yet.)

Meanwhile, I have, in fact, finished the first Millicent sock, and am well into the second lace repeat of the second; with luck I'll finish that tonight. I also made good progress on the second sleeve for Kivrin's sweater during a 2 1/2 hour meeting on Friday (!!). I'll post pictures tomorrow after I get the girls from the airport (yay!). I am swamped with getting ready for school (still haven't prepped for my 10:30 class, and it's 9:20 now), so I'm off for now.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I just got back from dropping my mother-in-law and my kids off at the airport. They are going to visit their grandparents for a week in Maryland. Without us. (Have I mentioned that they are going without us?) They're very excited, and my MIL kindly flew out to accompany them, and will be flying back out with them next week. So it's all good and safe and I'm very happy for them that they'll get to spend time with their further-away grandparents.

But I'm still here. Now, don't get me wrong. My husband and I have gone out of town, and the kids have stayed with my parents, often at our house so that their routine's all in place and everything is easy (thanks, mom and dad!). But it's never been the case that they've gone off and we've stayed behind. They're still young enough that there hasn't been sleep-away camp, and when they've spent the night with friends, it's just been one night and we know that they're right here in town. This is a bit strange. I think that it will be particularly weird to come home each night, as usual, but not to have them there, doing their thing and being part of everything. Shades of college someday.

Anyway, I just had to say something about it to someone. Wish me luck this week!

Monday, August 20, 2007


Well, I think we've settled in, finally. Just in time for my mother-in-law to come take the kids to visit my parents-in-law on the east coast (eep!). But that's its own post. Part of our settling in has involved getting a new kitten. We have a cat. We used to have two cats, but our baby girl disappeared a year ago. Since then, Gwilim has been a single cat. He doesn't seem to mind most of the time (although he occasionally wanders around meowing loudly the way he used to do for Rhiannon), except when he's hunting. Once upon a time, when he caught something good, he'd bring it to his baby sister and let her play with it for a while (she just wasn't a fan of hunting things up for herself). Since she was lost, however, he hasn't had anyone to share with.

Except us.

And share he does. Mice, rats, gophers (one notable evening, the gopher wasn't even close to dead when he brought it into our bedroom; it woke us up gnashing its teeth at the cat), birds, lizards. We argue vociferously with him about the birds and lizards, but for the rodents, we let it be. But it's gross, and I don't enjoy scrubbing bloodstains out of the carpet. Hence the kitten. We're hoping Gwilim will be inspired to share with him, instead of with us. We named him Atticus.
He's pretty cute, and we have high hopes of him.

And, speaking of growth, remember the garden? Here it is now:
Buddha finally has some shade.
I spent two hours yesterday, weeding and harvesting. I think I finally had a Garden Moment. Those of you who garden know what I'm talking about; that feeling of timelessness that comes with moving slowly from plant to plant, weeding and untangling, checking how each one is doing, picking what's ripe and admiring what's not. I have not had one of these moments before; it reminds me a little bit of the first time I got one of those Second Wind moments that runners are always going on about when I was racewalking and I suddenly felt like I could go on forever. That's how yesterday was. It was a sort of moving meditation, and I found myself slowing down and relaxing and just feeling how good it was to stand (or crouch or bend) near all of these lovely growing things. And the girls were so excited about their cherry tomatoes and yard-long beans. All of them have been harvested, but there're more coming. And the squash blossoms are still so lovely.
It's hot, though. Even the dog says so.
I wish we could spend all of our time in the shade.
Yesterday, we finally set up a clothesline, which I've been wanting to do for ages. I remember hanging clothes out with my grandmother when I was young, and how much I loved it then (I do realize, however, that part of why this is fun for me is because, unlike my grandmother, there are options; I don't have to hang the clothes on the radiator to dry when it's wet out. I said to Rick it's funny, Nana hung clothes out because she couldn't afford a drier; I'm hanging them out because I can't afford an air conditioner! I guess this is a sign of progress.). I had to share the clothes with Rick, though; he wanted to hang them out, too. I think all of us were enjoying slowing down to do a simple task like that.

Last, but not least, the sock is growing. It's on my leg here, instead of my daughter's (she's at soccer practice), but you get the idea.
The heel is turned, and I'm headed down the foot. I may actually have these done for the first day of school (the day after Labor Day). Woot!

Now, I just need to be sure that I'm ready for MY first day of classes, on Thursday. I'm teaching a class I've never taught before, and the syllabus is confounding me. Although I know that I'll be glad to be back with students after the first week or two are over, when I know some of their names and I feel like I'm on top of my material, the first couple of days are always hell for me. Given that I am, at heart, fairly shy, that I prefer not to hang out with crowds of people I don't know well, but would rather be with small groups of friends (or even by myself!), teaching seems like an odd avocation for me. But I must admit, I do love it. Just gotta get over these first couple of days. Send me bold, confident thoughts!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


So, I figure I'd better write the post about our trip to the UP (whose inhabitants call themselves Yoopers) before I get so far into new things that I never get back to it. First, true confessions. I took with me this:
(plus one more ball of the blue yarn). And by the time I got back, I had knitted this:
Is that pitiful, or what? I know that I am going to be glad when I am done with these that I knitted them, but I have to confess that I'm not enjoying the knitting of them as much as I have with other things. The lace pattern is beautiful, but it involves k3tog, and I really hate knitting three stitches together, no matter how it's done. I tend towards the tighter side of knitting, and getting into three loops isn't easy for me. And the rest of the sock is 2x2 rib, which, while Cookie has done an amazing job of creating lovely texture with their movement, is most definitely not my favorite kind of knitting (yarn forward, purl two, yarn back, knit two, yarn forward AGAIN, purl two, yarn back AGAIN, knit two, ad naseum; it just doesn't go as fast as it feels like it should). I also had to start the darned things three times. First, because I didn't have the latest version of the pattern, then when I did, the needles I was using were too big. Third time was the charm, though.

Don't get me wrong. They are beautiful socks, and I know that T is going to love them when they're done, so that's worth it. But you know how sometimes you learn something about yourself as a knitter when you work with a pattern, about what you do and don't like to do? Well, this is one of those learning experiences. I imagine there are some people for whom this would be a blast to knit, rather than an eye-on-the-prize knitting experience.

So, clearly, not too much knitting got done on this trip. However, a great deal of relaxing got done. There were times when I'd take my knitting out and find myself just sitting and feeling very much at peace, watching the lake.
There are bald eagles nesting there, and we could hear the fledglings calling to their parents all day long (hungry little buggers). And there were loons this time; I don't think I'd ever heard a loon calling in real life before. They remind me a little bit of coyotes, in that they sound closer to human than not. The camp where we stayed is an old army barracks that my sister-in-law's grandparents bought years ago. The story is that these barracks were being sold off after WWII, and her grandmother went to get one for their farm, but when driving it back, got to an underpass that she couldn't get under. Casting about for something to do with it, she noticed a lot for sale on this lake, bought it, and put the barracks there. It's been a family camp ever since. It's rustic (although less so than it used to be -- it has showers and indoor toilets now!), but that's perfect, since I don't feel compelled to worry that my wet and sandy children are likely to ruin someone else's home. This place as been through it all.
The girls had a blast, as did Rick. He grew up on a lake, and I always forget how much this is really his environment, until we go somewhere like this, and he spends every waking moment on the water. He waterskied, and took the girls tubing, which they loved (OK, I confess, I went tubing for the first time, and loved it too). And they had great fun with their cousin.
We went to Lake Superior (dang, is that huge, or what?; the girls kept calling it the ocean),
and down into a copper mine for an hour and a half tour (no lights, just the headlamps on our helmets; the girls thought that was pretty neat, especially when the guide had us turn them all off so we could see how little we could see by the light of one candle, which is apparently all the miners had per group of three men).
Getting there is always a bit of a bear. We fly into Chicago, and then we have to drive about 500 miles north to get there (sort of like flying into San Diego to go to San Francisco); there are just no reasonably-priced flights from here to there. (Chicago was fun, though -- we took some time to see the Millenium Park on the way home.)
In the end, it was a good week. I didn't think about work, or about all the things that I had to do when I got home, I just enjoyed being with my family, and watching the girls be excited about everything that we were doing, and roasting marshmallows over the fire, and watching the sunset (at 10:00!!), and seeing the Milky Way. I find that just being near water, watching the play of light on it, and seeing everything that lives near and in it, is a renewal of some kind; I feel a sense of grace, and of timelessness. I feel, very viscerally, the sense of that old saying, All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Home again

We're home. It's been a long two days; we were up late on Saturday night, making our last rounds of s'mores, and catching the early precursors to the Perseids, and then up early on Sunday to make the drive to Chicago. This morning, we were up at 5:00 am Chicago time (3:00 CA time), to catch our flight. We landed at 9:10 am CA time, drove home, retrieved the dog, and put in the better part of a day's work. We're all pretty wiped out. So, just a short post here to say we made it, and that the week was tremendously relaxing and beautiful and that I was out of my mind to think that I needed enough yarn to knit four pairs of socks.

A much longer update, with pictures, soon. Meanwhile, sleep.

Friday, August 3, 2007

On the road

Just a quick post before we leave town, since I'll be out of touch for a bit (the best part of this trip is the lack of cell phone or internet access; no work!). For this trip, I've decided to go all socks, all the way (inspired, I suppose, by Wendy's Summer of Socks). I am bringing Millicent, Boudica, and two more skeins of sock yarn (enough for a pair each), plus a pair each of size 0, 1, 2, and 3 dpns. This should do it, no? I'm thinking if I can find my printout of Cookie's Monkey socks, I'll bring those, too (one of the skeins'd be good with that, and I'm thinking of trying the mini-Monkeys that're going around, with the picot edging, which I've never done before). That, along with six books, oughta do me. I hope. I mean, there's always the swimming, and kayaking, and canoeing, and bird-watching, and napping that needs to get done, too.

So, we're packed, we have designated visiting animal-care personnel, the kids are chomping at the bit to go, and I've renewed my library books so there'll be no nasty fines accruing while I'm gone. What else could there be?