Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In which technology fails me

Yet again.

I actually had time to post this past weekend, and plans to do so as well. Which isn't to say that it wasn't a busy weekend. On Saturday morning, the girls and I got up fairly early and headed to the farmer's market, where we bought all kinds of goodies, including three ears of corn (seriously, who has corn out this time of year? I must admit I'm wondering how good it'll be, but I had to try) and nopalitos that I'll be cooking up for dinner tonight (once I remove all the little thorns). Mmm... Not to mention the lovely fresh asparagus and English peas. I adore English peas.

Then it was off to a soccer game (and can I just say that I really hate it when we have soccer games at elementary schools whose bathrooms aren't open? way uncool), and from there straight to a birthday party quite some distance away. Home for a few hours, then back out again across that distance to pick Older Daughter up, then out to dinner with some friends. Whew!

Sunday was a bit calmer, but it included a (longer than I thought it'd be) bowling fundraiser (Bowling for the Animals; it raises money for a spay and neuter program), which was great fun, but from which I'm still recovering (turns out I must do some funny thing with my forward leg when I bowl -- my muscles hurt). I got to knit during the game, and during the raffle part of the bowling. I also got a comment from one dad during the soccer game who declared that I couldn't possibly knit during the game -- I'd drop a stitch. I told him I only knit simple stuff, to which he replied "Ah. Knit purl knit purl." (I'm imagining a knitting mother or grandmother somewhere in his history.) To which I responded, "Nope. Knit knit knit knit." Either way, I got a lot done. I even got to think about the new (very simple) lace project I wanted to start.

But here's the rub. I had no internet access. Nope, nary a bit nor a byte was moving across the ether. I rebooted every little box in the house associated with the internet (and probably even a few that aren't), to no avail. I called Rick, who suggested that I should reboot all the little boxes. I did it again just to humor him. Nada. I decided that I would just have to reach back into the depths of my brain to remember what it was like during the Dark Ages, when there was no internet, and to survive the weekend by relying on those things which don't require electricity, let alone a cable connection: books and knitting (not to mention kids). I will admit that it was rather disconcerting to notice how often I reflexively head to my computer to check email. It made me kind of glad that I was on an inadvertent ban, and it also made me wonder whether I shouldn't schedule some enforced down-time. But that's another post.

Rick got back into town on Sunday night and called our cable company. It turns out that the problem was quite simple. They'd decided to stop supporting our modem. Without warning. Oh. Well, if that's how you feel about it.


But it's back up and running, and a day has gotten me caught up on email, and this afternoon I finally got a chance to take a few pictures of what I'm working on so I could share. And then my camera wiped everything off of its little chip in one fell swoop.


I don't have the energy to retake all of the photos, but I did finally convince the camera to take, retain, and download a couple of pictures, and I'll share those and then retire from the ring, bowed and bloody and cursing the name Technology.

First, the linen shell.

AAARGH!! Internal errors! Fire! Destruction! The desolation of Smaug! (Oh, wait, that last one is leaking in from our bedtime reading.)

No pictures today, apparently. Trust me, the shell is now about five inches past the joining below the armscye. I also had a credit at The Loopy Ewe and got myself this, and am having a great time playing around with it to find the perfect stitch for a little shoulder-covering stole, and if you want me, you can find me curled up in a corner as far away from anything with a plug as I can get.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I seem to have some knitting momentum going with this little shell I'm working on, which is nice. I've been wondering lately why it is that I seem to have this overwhelming need to have at least one simple stockinette (with maybe some ribbing for variety) project OTN at all times, when up until now I've rarely focused on plain knitting, and, in fact, have mostly not enjoyed it (hence the lace obsession). It occurred to me (after spending far more thought on this than it's worth) that there are probably a few things going on. At a background level, I think that part of it is that I'm finally competent enough at the two basic stitches of knitting (that would be the knit and the purl) that I can consistently do them without looking at my hands. I can even start new rows or change needles without looking, for the most part (how long did this take? best not to ask, I must be a slow learner). So stockinette, far from being the slog that it once was, is now something that I can do anywhere, anytime: while reading, watching movies in the dark, sitting through kids' concerts, etc. That makes it soothing. Of course, you can remind me of this when I turn into a raving lunatic, gibbering about boredom and demanding triple yos and p2 tog tbls.

I think that there's another reason, though, why stockinette is particularly appealing this semester. During a normal semester, there's all kinds of craziness going on (as I know you know), but there's also a routine to it. I know what classes I'm teaching, and in most cases, these days, they're classes that I've taught before. I may be changing them around a little, or adding new material, but I have a sense of where I'm going and how to get there. Grading is most definitely rote, and after a while, even stressful budget meetings have a certain sameness to them. At times like that, lace is a blessing, and the more complicated, the better. It takes one's mind off of things, allows the ol' brain to work in different ways, keeps me from fretting over the stupid thing I said in class, or the stupid thing someone else said in a meeting.

But this semester, there is no routine. I'm working on some hard research, and trying to start some new research, and none of it feels easy or routine. It's not boring, by any stretch of the imagination, but it's also not easy. Nice plain stockinette, then, is a way to reset my brain, to give it a break, let it wander a bit; no concentration necessary, thank you very much. All of the swimming of laps I've been doing lately (2000 m today, and wow am I swimming faster than I was three months ago) feels the same way: 25 strokes for this length, two lengths to this lap, three more laps to this set, and now freestyle... On and on and on. Nice. Soothing. A great resting place for the brain.

Of course, the one thing about cruising along on the stockinette highway is that it makes for boring blog fodder. This is where lovely surprise packages from friends come in handy; not only are they such fun to receive (and why is it that they always seem to come just at the right time?), but I can show them to you and you can share vicariously in the pleasure of them. I found just such a package from Stella waiting for me when I got back from our trip. When I opened it up, look what was inside:
It's a project bag, the perfect size for a pair of socks or a little lace scarf. I adore this fabric -- it reminds me of river stones, all rounded and smooth, and the drawstrings close veryvery tightly, which I like (that way my little boxes of stitch markers can't fall out). She even has her own label on the inside, which I love. She's made quite a few of these, and every one of them is adorable (the bottom of each bag matches the outside, too).
And what's that down there inside? Why, it's a skein of the most gorgeous charcoal-gray yarn. I wish you could pet it -- it's soft and smooshy, and it's going to be my next pair of socks (stockinette, how else?) just for me.
Thank you so much, Stella! What a perfect package!

More knitting tonight, and then maybe something to show for it soon? We'll see...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Still a knitting blog

Believe it or not, I have been knitting. And today I even have something to show for it. (I know, I know; I really should give y'all more warning before coming out with something so shocking.)

Socks. (Ravelry project page)
A whole pair. Size thirteen, even. Finished in time for Rick to take them along on his business trip this week, should he choose. I'm pretty darned happy with the way these turned out. The color in that photo is wrong (in rereading this post, I realize that this is going to be a theme for today); they're actually a very very dark forest green, which is quite pretty (although hard to see sometimes).
These were knitted top-down, with about an inch and a half of 1x1 rib at the top, and a regular heel-flap and gusset construction. I used Berocco Ultra Alpaca Fine yarn, which I quite liked, although I thought it was a little splitty. I used two circulars for these (size 2), although that's not my usual MO; generally I prefer dpns. But with this many stitches (68), I've found that everything goes faster and more easily on two circs. I think I'll do his socks that way generally from now on. Other than the top ribbing, they're plain stockinette, which worked out really well for these socks, since I knitted them mostly at the conference, in the car, and at the movies the other night. If they'd had any kind of patterning, I don't think I would have finished them so quickly.

I'm also working on the Rogue Roses socks for me (these are from the latest Rockin' Sock Club installment).
(Note the random bits of Tilly that keep appearing in these pictures; she really wanted to get involved this morning.)
I like these socks quite a lot, although they do require some paying attention and concentration. But they're fun, and I think I'll wear them a lot, even though they're knitted in STR mediumweight and I'm usually more of a lightweight person. I'm using my size 2 Signature needles (dpns), which I love so very much that I'm considering getting a set in size 1. We'll see. Mother's Day is coming up, after all (isn't it?)(given that I keep dating things March -- some kind of Freudian thing, I think -- I clearly have no idea where I am in the calendar year).

Aside from those two projects, I've mostly been swatching and dithering. At the moment, I'm swatching for Anne's Ondule (imagine an accent ague over that last e) sweater, which I adore and am going to knit just as soon as the pattern's ready. Not only is this sweater great, and something that I think I'll wear a ton, but the yarn I have for it is making me tremendously happy. A while ago, I saw a lovely bump of BFL fiber at Briar Rose and decided that I really wanted a sweater in those colors; I also realized that I probably wasn't going to be able to spin fast enough and then knit fast enough to wear the sweater this summer. So I emailed Chris (whose title really should be something like The Fabulous Chris) and asked her what the chances might be of getting some Grandma's Blessing yarn dyed up in that colorway. She was a bit worried about it, since they're different fibers, which means that they react differently to the dyes; and it's true, this color is a bit different. And gorgeous. Really and truly, warmly and colorfully, gorgeous. Honestly, I'm dying to knit up this sweater so I can wear it everywhere (because I will). So I've swatched (fair warning: the pictures just don't do the colors justice; I'm going to keep trying).
See? Everything from pinks to burnt oranges. Mmm...
Still not quite the color that it is in real life. Sigh...

Meanwhile, I've also been swatching for the little shell I've been wanting to knit for myself for a while from some Louet Euroflax I picked up. I only have three skeins, which is 810 yards, so I'm bit worried about having enough, but I figure for a very short-sleeved top, that should work, no? I wanted to use it to knit the Slinky Ribs sweater from Custom Knits.
But when I swatched it, it turned out that there was some bias in the stockinette section.
(That color is dead wrong, by the way; it's much more of a very bleached tan - maybe the color you'd expect of tow?)

So I developed this crazed notion that somehow everything would work out better if I put the stockinette section at the top of the sweater and the ribbed section at the bottom, starting just below the bustline. I don't know that that's going to make any difference, but it did seem to me that I'd end up with a more shapely sweater that way, so what you see there are the scribbles that are meant to help me knit such a thing. Given the potential dearth of yarn, I've decided to knit this thing top-down so I can try it on as I go (this would also mean that I'll have a good idea if that biasing is going to be mitigated by the ribbed bottom before I get too very far). The funny thing is the fact that I somehow find starting a top-down project so much more daunting than a bottom-up one. I don't know why starting with two fronts and a back and then joining them seems more difficult than starting with a body and then dividing it, but there it is.

I'm just weird that way, I guess.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Last of three

So, this will be the last of the three installments about the southwest trip, and then it's back to our regularly-scheduled programming.

When we left Cortez, it was raining and cold and windy, and we were all pleased as punch that we'd gotten the good weather for hiking in Mesa Verde. I don't mind hiking in the wet, but slippery trails above cliffs and high wind do not, in my opinion, mix. We headed out through Four Corners, because who doesn't have to take the obligatory "I'm standing in four states at once" pictures?
(That's Younger Daughter holding her Flat Mrs. R in all four states at once, too. Flat Mrs. R -- her teacher -- comes along on all of the kids' trips, ever since one enterprising classmate who was going on a cruise brought in a flat version of herself to sit in her desk while she was gone, and took a Flat Mrs. R along with her. This is now so popular that there are two Flat Mrs. Rs for domestic trips, and one for international travel.)

We also had to take the obligatory "Look, we're all standing in different states!" shot.
It was cold and windy. We followed this up with some frybread and honey (mmm.... frybread...), and then shopped around at the booths. It was cold enough that a lot of the craftspeople hadn't come yet, but I did fall entirely in love with a bracelet being offered by its maker, a very small old lady, who laughed (as I knew she would) when I asked if she'd take a check. I'd brought some cash (I know better, truly I do), but this was more than I'd brought, and I wanted it badly enough to ask. I was very sorry to walk away from it, and was still thinking about it six miles down the road when we saw a convenience store with an ATM. I looked at Rick and he looked at me and said, "You know you're going to." And I did.

I headed back along those six miles, my little stack of ten-dollar bills in my hand, and turned in again at the Four Corners, with our already-paid-for tickets in my hand to show the booth attendant. She laughed and waved us in. I pulled right back in next to the stall and found the lady there with her husband, drinking coffee. She, too, laughed when she saw me. She and her husband were of a piece; neither came up higher than my shoulder, and both had clearly spent years and years in the outdoors. Neither of them spoke much English at all, but they both joked with one another in Navajo and laughed at me; I knew I looked crazy in the wind with my tens in my hands, but she handed me the bracelet, and we shook hands on it and smiled at one another, and I'm glad I went back.

And then we were really and truly off to the Grand Canyon. The hour time change worked in our favor this time, and we got there in the mid-afternoon, thinking on our way in that we might have time for a ranger talk (part of the requirements for this park's junior ranger badge) before dinner -- there was even a ranger-led geological hike that made Rick's eyes gleam. By the time we'd gotten well and truly in to the park, it was thunder-snowing. Thunder means lightning, which means no hiking on the rim of a canyon. But the ranger gave the talk inside the observation station (whose windows were blanketed in white; no looking down into the canyon for us); he was so enthusiastic about his topic that we all had fun anyway.

We went to check into our hotel, Rick and I assuring the girls that even if we never did get to see the canyon on this trip, it would still be there, and we could come back. But as we were walking (shivering and huddled into our coats; my lovely red EZ mittens got a workout, thank goodness I'd stashed them in my glove compartment!), the clouds lifted just a bit, and the sun began to shine deep in the canyon, even as snow lined the rim.
It's times like this that I wish I were a photographer. Ansel Adams would have known what to do. I eventually just put my camera down and watched the scene unfold. It was magic. Sometimes the clouds lowered a bit more, leaving snow-covered pine trees lonely along the edge of the canyon.
And sometimes, even as we were standing in falling snow, we could see sun deep below us, shining on an unreachable green fairyland.
The clouds really lifted just as the sun was setting, and we ate dinner and went to bed feeling hopeful that the morning would be sunny.
It was plenty clear enough to go hiking, so hiking we did go. Only for a couple of hours, as we needed to hit the road for home, but it was enough time to drop some 400 vertical feet into the canyon (need I mention that I made the girls hike along the wall side of the trail?) and back up again.
One more picture of Flat Mrs. R at the top,
a quick swearing-in as junior rangers,
and we hit the road. We were home by bedtime.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Long, sharp drops

The next part of our trip involved a lot of driving, and a lot of very long, very sharp drops. There were a few times when I just had to stop and hold on to something (usually one of the kids; man, do they move fast) and remember that if lots and lots of people were losing children off of those edges, surely I would have heard about it? (The book in the Grand Canyon bookstore whose focus was all of the deaths that had ever occurred in the Grand Canyon did not inspire confidence, alas.)

But first, fiber. We headed out of Santa Fe and towards Colorado via Los Ojos, where we were able to stop at Tierra Wools (wonder who put that stop in the itinerary?). Rick and I had visited there eleven years ago when we first went to the southwest (when I was pregnant with Older Daughter, in fact), and that's where I got the wool that I eventually used to knit him a vest -- it took a few years, but I did it. The wool there mostly comes from their own Churro sheep, which they raise there, although they've recently had to start sending the wool out to be processed and spun (a long drought has meant that there's enough water for processing or for dyeing, but not both). But it comes back to Tierra to be dyed, and we were lucky enough to meet one of the dyers, who gladly talked with us about the natural dyeing that she'd just finished up (they also use chemical dyes).
(Indigo, overdyed with something I can't remember right offhand.)

She showed the girls some of the plants that she uses, and gave them samples of yarns dyed using indigo, madder root, cochineal, and a local plant whose name she couldn't remember right offhand.
And look at all of the colors they use in their weaving.
Their weavings were absolutely stunning, but when we were there, they almost no rug-weight weavings available, and none in a size that we could actually use (I can't believe I was so busy playing with the weavings that I took no pictures of them!). That didn't stop us from petting and stroking everything they had hanging up, and admiring the looms. I also bought a couple of hanks of gorgeous yarn (dyed with indigo and cochineal) to use in making mittens for the girls for next winter. I don't have any pictures right now, but I promise I'll share later.

We spent the rest of the day driving to Cortez, Colorado, alternately stopping to look at rugs (we've decided that we're definitely getting a Navajo rug, once we've saved up enough money; that'll be a while, I think) at pretty much every trading station we went by, and admiring the scenery.
Younger Daughter was particularly taken by the Pedernal, as she'd absolutely adored the Georgia O'Keefe paintings of this mountain, and loved O'Keefe's statement that God had promised her she could have the mountain for herself, if only she painted it enough. It just captured Younger Daughter's imagination, and then seeing that mountain in real life for her ownself clinched it.

The next day was our day to spend at Mesa Verde, and it was absolutely perfect. The weather held off for us (it poured and snowed the next day), and we spent the whole day climbing up and down ladders and in and out of cliff alcoves, and along trails. We started with a tour of Cliff Palace (a tour is the only way to go there). The best thing about going at this time of year was how (relatively) deserted the entire park was. We had it virtually to ourselves, with no rush. Normally, they're moving tours of 60 in and out of this site every half an hour. There was none of that when we were there.
It gives me chills just looking at it. It is astonishingly beautiful.
It is also entirely practical, in that wonderful way that a place is practical when its inhabitants have been living in, and adapting to, an environment for centuries.

The ranger who gave our tour was wonderful; he was animated, and clearly in love with his work and with Mesa Verde, and he had also clearly spent a lot of time with the modern Puebloan people whose ancestors built these cities. His respect for them, past and present, was evident in everything he said, which I appreciated immensely. The girls, of course, loved his animation, and the fact that he let them go up the ladders first on the way out. (eek)
We also got to take a lovely long hike out to Petroglyph Point; we met precisely one person on the whole hike. Just to give you a sense of the kind of edge we were hiking on, if you look at the canyon rim across from us in the picture below, you can see a white band at the top, with a greenish bit below it. The white band is composed of sheer sandstone cliffs. The greenish band below that is a rock formation which erodes more easily, forming a "slope" (note the scare quotes) rather than a cliff. The white band immediately below that "slope" is another sandstone cliff formation. We were hiking along that slope, with sandstone cliffs above and below. Total craziness.
(We also got frybread tacos for lunch -- really good ones, too. It doesn't get better than that.)

And the girls finished the day out by being sworn in as Junior Rangers. The National Park system has a lovely program which provides the kids with booklets to fill out; once they're filled out, a ranger checks them all over, and then swears them in and gives them badges. The girls loved it.
Next time, Grand Canyon, and then home. And after that, socks!

Monday, April 13, 2009

There and back again

Home! We're home! Aaaahhhhh.....

(Note: I was not saying aaahhh in any kind of relaxed way this morning as I faced eight billion loads of laundry, an empty fridge and a full inbox. The "aaahhh" sounded a bit more hysteric at that point.)

It's been a crazy couple of weeks. After my last post, I packed up and headed up to Santa Barbara for a two-day conference. I got a lot of knitting done while I was there -- all of that sitting still and listening was very good for plain knitting -- and finished most of Rick's first sock, as well as most of my first sock from the latest Rockin' Sock Club installment. I stopped Rick's sock short of the toe, because I've been afraid that I won't have enough yarn; I'll knit both of them to the toe, and then if I have to, I can knit the toes out of another yarn. Even aside from all that knitting time, though, the conference was wonderful. It's very rare to go to a workshop at which every single paper is interesting (very rare, indeed), but this was one of those occasions. I didn't get drowsy once, which has to be some kind of record. Not only that, but all of the people who were there were interesting to talk to, which made the speaker lunches great fun to attend, rather than some kind of chore. As for my paper, well, no-one laughed, and people said afterwards that they found it interesting. This could either be a good sign with regards to my paper, or an indication of how polite and kind the attendees were. Since it was clear from my conversations with them that the attendees were, indeed, polite and kind, I'll leave it at that.

I then drove home quickly and, after a twelve-hour turnaround, headed right back out again. I felt very harried until we were on the road, and then I was glad that we'd decided to take our trip, in spite of the timing. I worked on Rick's socks, and on my socks, but I didn't get as much knitting done as I'd thought I would, doing all that driving. I did a lot of sleeping in the car when I wasn't driving those first two days; catching up, I suppose. Our first stop was Tucson, to visit my best friend from college; we had so much fun catching up and cooking and helping the kids decorate Easter eggs that I took nary a photo. Trust me, it was great. It was the perfect way to start our trip, and to break up the long drive out to Santa Fe.

Our first day in Santa Fe, we left town entirely and took the girls to Tsankawi, an unexcavated mesa-top village site in Bandolier National Monument that Rick and I had hiked when we first went there years ago, and which we were sure the girls would love. We were right. (In fact, one of the best bits about this whole trip was discovering just how much the girls enjoy many of the things that we both love, too. I mean, I know there's some causality there, but still, what a relief! They could, after all, find hiking and ruins boring in spite of all of our enthusiasm for the same. It's been known to happen with kids.) There were ladders to climb up to the mesa-top.
And narrow paths.
And once we'd gotten to the top, there were pot-sherds to look at and carefully put back in place.
After looking around at the midden, and at the lines formed by the ruined walls, we climbed another ladder down to the south-facing cliff homes. We did not (most definitely not) use the original hand- and toe-holds dug into the rock. (That, by the way, is looking almost straight up.)
(I should note here that this whole trip was, as I'd expected, a bit of a challenge for me, given my fears regarding the potentially calamitous combination of active kids and sudden edges with long drops beneath them.)

The view from those south-facing homes in the cliffs was amazing.
As was the sense of the time-depth of the place. I feel that way throughout the southwest; the continuity and timespan of inhabitation, of people adapting year by year to a changing environment, for hundreds of years, leaves me awestruck. I can't help but think that people lived in some of these places, continuously, for upwards of 700 years. And then they didn't any more. And we think that our couple of hundred years here is so long that nothing could move us.

I'm sure that every civilization, ever, has felt that way. And then something changes. It makes me wonder about all of the things that could shift for us, all of the things that might shake our seemingly unshakable place in this world. Walking, quite literally, in the deeply-worn footsteps of other people, people who raised children (worrying about those edges!) and cooked and spun and did many things that would look familiar to me, who then faced and survived unimaginable shifts in their lives and places to reach where they are today, creates for me a deep sense of connection, of commonality. And it makes me wonder what lessons we should be learning from past experience. I think that we (whoever "we" might be) often feel that our culture, our world, is different from every one that came before, that we have achieved the permanence that was merely illusory for our predecessors; the one thing that I think all human cultures have in common is exactly that sense, that and the fact that things do, always, change.
It takes a lot of footsteps to wear paths that deep. And it's worth feeling a little small sometimes, in the shadows of history.
There's no way to do justice to all of the amazing things we saw in six days (and 2300 miles of driving) in one post, so I'll break it up. I'm looking forward to trying to do some catch-up blog reading, but with all of the posts that got written while I was gone, I may have to resort to the dreaded "mark all as read" function on bloglines. Meanwhile, there's that pile of laundry to be faced...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Veryvery quick

That's what this post has to be. I've distracted the children by asking them to clean their rooms (I won't see them again until next month, if I'm not careful), so I have a few precious moments to post before the next thing comes along.

First, a finished object!
There they are. The anemone socks. I finished them last night at a meeting at a friend's house, and put them straight on. The non-knitters in the group stared at me a while as I was knitting, until finally one of them asked: "Are you knitting socks?" She was far too polite to make the usual five dollars at Target comment, but it was there on her face. Once they were on my feet, though, the looks got a bit more speculative. No-one asked to learn how to knit, however, alas. Next time.
I did get lots of compliments on the colors, which pleased me because I adore this colorway. I may have to get another skein for myself -- I'm sure I can think of something to knit with it, right?

So, to recap. These are the Anemone socks, from last fall's Socks That Rock sock club, in the Tide Pooling colorway (lightweight). This motif must eat up yarn, as I used far more of the skein than I usually do (although this was by no means a nail-biter, there was plenty of leeway). I used my size one celtic swan dpns, and didn't modify the pattern (except I think I messed one bit up and had to fudge, but I won't tell if you won't).

I promptly wound the yarn for this month's sock club installment, and I cast on today (pictures at some point, I promise; this is a great pattern). I'm also knitting Rick's socks again, but this time with no patterning, so they'll be something I can knit during this conference/workshop/thingamajig that I'm about to head off to. That means that at this point, I have two active projects OTN, and they're both socks. I'm OK with that, since we'll be doing a lot of driving and travelling next week, and having two small projects, one simple and one more complicated, seems like a very good idea.

The flowers are out in full force around here.
The azaleas are in bloom (these bushes, tucked under on of our big old pepper trees, make me happy every year).
And Tilly is full of energy.
I am not so full of energy right now, as this week has been insane. I've almost finalized my presentation (still three minutes over, drat it!), put together a handout to go along with it (that's how I cut five minutes off the time to start with), written an Institutional Review Board application with supporting materials, and put together an application for a small internal grant. On top of that, we had some family stuff happen this week that required a lot of time to deal with; it's going to be fine, but it took precedence over everything else, and added to the general sense of franticness.

I leave tomorrow for my conference, and again immediately after getting back from the conference for our road trip (this one's for pleasure) to New Mexico. So it may be that I'm not able to post again until I get back, just after Easter. I'll be taking lots of pictures in New Mexico, though; there's even one fiber stop in the works, which I'm very excited about. I'm dreadfully behind on reading blogs, but I'm hoping that the hotel I'm staying at for the conference will have wifi, and maybe I can catch up on my reading as a reward once I finally lose those last three minutes from my presentation (this is like a diet, but harder). That seems fair, doesn't it? Now the question is what I should pack to wear, and whether I should also pack along my bottle of Talisker...