Tuesday, May 25, 2010


It feels like it's been a long week already. Does anyone else ever have that happen? It really seems like today should be Wednesday, and I'm simultaneously relieved (there's so much to do!), and horrified (how could I have done so much and still have it only be Tuesday?!) to find that it's not. Ah, well.

We met yesterday morning with the superintendent of Older Daughter's school to talk about the cancellation of something like 90% of the music program. I have generally noticed that in situations like this, administrators fall into one of two categories.

(Beware: Huge overgeneralization incoming.)

In both categories, administrators say that they have to make hard choices because of the state budget situation. This I accept as truth, knowing what I do about California's budget, and about the persistent refusal of her citizenry to fund the things they say they want. (Obviously, they've never read Heinlein; all I have to say is: TANSTAAFL.*) Administrators also invariably say that they hate to have to make the cuts they're making. I'm willing to accept that as truth, too, but I have noticed over the years a major dichotomy in possible administrator reactions to having one of their constituents suggest alternatives to proposed cuts.

Some administrators seem really happy to know that a) the stakeholders in their enterprise care enough to come to them with ideas, and b) that someone's come up with some other option that prevents quite the same degree of cut-devastation. Those administrators respond to suggestions with lots of information about how to make those suggestions work, or, if they won't, a good reason why not, and an open conversation about what might work instead. Those administrators seem truly to regret having to cut things that are working, and truly happy to find alternatives.

There are other administrative types, though, who respond to stakeholder suggestions as threats to their authority. Those types respond defensively as an automatic reaction, and use tactics like obfuscation, aggression, and allocation of blame to railroad the conversation. They don't share information, but they say that they already have. It's hard to be convinced under those circumstances that they really do regret the cuts, but they certainly feel defensive about them.

I'll leave you to guess with which type I was dealing on Monday morning. Looking at the positives, we did, in the end, come away with some information, and better yet, I came away with the good feeling that I'm not the only parent who cares, and that we parents will be working together to see what we can do with the information that we do have, and to obtain more information when possible. Our strength is great because our cause is just, right?

Because yesterday was one of those days (that's how it started, and it didn't get much better), this morning I took myself off for a long hike with Tilly. We spent nearly an hour on the trail, and I came home feeling much refreshed, and grateful for the chance to be outside, grateful for the lovely cool weather (60 degrees and a marine layer), grateful for the crew of volunteers who have been working faithfully to restore the native plants to the open space where I hike, grateful for the blooming sage that makes my dog smell wonderful for days after a hike, grateful to my dog for her cheerful willingness to walk up hill and down, thinking not about tomorrow or yesterday, but about the now. She's a good nudge toward mindfulness.

And once I was home, I found that Henley Redux, which I finished last night and blocked, was almost dry, and ready to have its buttons sewn on. I also discovered that it's almost exactly the color of my beloved jacarandas which are, even now, busily (as Rick puts it) jacarandizing.
Our jacaranda is always a bit late to the party; by next week at this time, it will be a mass of purple blossoms. For now, it's just hinting at the beauty to come, while all around our neighborhood, trees are entering their blooming phase.

And the sweater? Here it is (a bit washed out in this light, but trust me, the purple is very much like those blooms above).
I'll get better pictures, including some modelling shots, but for now, it really goes with all of the springtime purple blooms, not just the jacaranda.
The sweater turned out beautifully (if I do say so myself); I'm happy with the seams, and I think I did an even better job on the button-band than I did with the first henley (which is also blocking right now, so it'll be pretty and clean for me to take with me to the Great Lakes Fiber Show this weekend -- more on that next time).
And it fits very nicely. I was worried it was going to be too tight, but if anything, I think I blocked it width-wise a bit more aggressively than it might have needed (I'll remember that next time). And it's a good thing that I finished it when I did, because I took a nasty spill on my hike this morning, and landed hard on the ball of the palm of my hand (I'll spare you the pictures); I'm not sure how knitting is going to feel - typing isn't all that pleasant, actually.

So, to recap, this is the Henley with a Twist, from Knitspot, knit in Knitting Notions Merino Bamboo, colorway Dusk. This time I knitted the size small (last time, it was the medium), and used size three and four needles. I also fiddled a bit with the pattern to knit it in the round, since I knew I wasn't going to have the time or inclination to deal with much in the way of seaming at the end. It worked out really well. I'm actually wearing it now -- I put it on as soon as it dried, and I don't think I'll be taking it off any time soon. Here's a quick preview:
Maybe Anne will get some good shots of it this weekend when I see her, on her home turf this time, because as of Friday morning, I'm off to Ohio! See you on the flip side.

*TANSTAAFL: There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch


Lynne said...

Ah administrators - don't you just love 'em! And funding cuts! Give me the guy who invented "economic rationalisation" - on second thoughts, you'd better not!

We could do with some lovely Jacaranda brightness here but one week out from winter we have leaden skies and pouring rain! Hibernation weather!

Henley is gorgeous and fits you well.

Rachel said...

I learned 2 new words here today:
obfuscation and jacarandizing,thank you Jocelyn :)

Your second Henley looks amazing even in the little glimpse you shared with us.

I find it amazing how quickly you knitted it with everything you have on your plate right now.

I hope your hand will heal fast.

Gwen said...

Ouch! budget cuts and hand cuts and horrible admin types so sorry!

Fabulous sweater! And a fast one - how'd you manage that?

Jane said...

My week sounds like yours, thought today was Thursday. Good thing the boys knew where in the week we were! Can't wait to see the jumper in full, looks like a lovely shape. Hope the hand heals quickly

Lori said...

I don't know how you get so much knitting done! The henley is absolutely gorgeous, and looks fantastic on you. I've never knit with bamboo yarn, but I think Ill have to give it a try because I always love the finished projects.

I hope your hand heals quickly and doesn't interfere with your fun trip to OH! Safe travels, Jocelyn, and have fun!

Nana Sadie said...

Love your rant.

OMG - how did I miss that it was going to be that color?
Off to shop...

I wish you could divert just a few hundred miles to the east and come visit the Blue Ridge Mtns of VA.

Mary Lou said...

The Henley turned out beautifully, in spite of administrators. I just got back from my trip to northern CA and it was great. We hiked around the Point Reyes area -- such variety of landscape and topography. Not to mention the wildflowers. Thanks for the tips. Have fun in Michigan, sorry I can't be there. Sounds like a fun festival.

Katie said...

The sweater blocked out great! It is beautiful! You are giving me hope for mine. I still have edging to finish, though, before those stretchy-blocking thoughts come into play.

Ouch - sorry about your hand!

elizabeth said...

I love your sweater! I'm so jealous of your weather - it's already pushing 90 here with ungodly humidity. I miss my neighborhood walks! Maybe I'll try this weekend at 5 a.m...

Rachael said...

Lovely sweater! Have fun this weekend. :-)

I thought it was wednesday ALL DAY yesterday. I think it's the eagerness for the trip, my brain is trying to speed through the week. :-)

Julia G said...

The Henley looks lovely -- such a pretty color, and beautiful finishing.

In re: administrators, I've developed a theory that there are two kinds of people, status-based and merit-based. Status people see everything in terms of social transactions rather than intrinsic value, whereas merit-based people are more interested in mastering knowledge and skills than dominating people. Unfortunately the status folks flourish in bureaucracy, and do a dandy job suppressing actual innovation and progress. Sounds like you ran into a prime specimen at your meeting :-(

Alwen said...

Oh, it's gorgeous! And I say that sitting in humid 86 F heat.

Carrie K said...

Your Henley is gorgeous!! Glad it fits.

Ah, admins. Our local k-12 tried to cut the music program - after hiring a new guy last December and voting themselves raises. I think they use the music program as a club. Like the elderly put out on ice floes - worst case scenario. Although sometimes.....anyway, hope it goes your way soon!

Willow said...

I'd love to go to Ohio with you because I have a girl who lives there and a grandson too, and oh how I'd love love love to be with a bunch of knitters doing yeah, knitting! Have fun!

Roger R. said...

Good luck with the music program. Our school superintendent, here in Northern California, said that she thinks the next three to five years of the state budget look completely untenable. In fact, she said she doesn't know how they can possibly balance the budget without shortening the school year, by two or three. . .MONTHS!

It makes me sick.

Debbie, masquerading as my son.

RobinH said...

The town I grew up in eliminated their music budget years ago- heaven knows what they're cutting now. The fact we had a music program at all was due to the efforts of a group of dedicated parents who did continuous fundraising to pay for it.

I still play the instrument I learned in elementary school band (flute) and it has been an enduring source of joy in my life.

Gorgeous sweater! I really love the way these two have come out.

EGunn said...

Good luck with the stonewalling administration! I hope that they figure out how to be constructive soon enough to stop the cuts.

I'm glad you got to take a "grateful" walk...it really does help at the end of a long day. A beautiful finished sweater doesn't hurt, either. Have a great time in Ohio!

twinsetellen said...

Say hi to the Buckeyes for me. They will be drooling over that sweater.

And thanks for the burst of jacaranda. I need to see this tree in bloom!

I hope your hand heals up quickly and doesn't interfere with knitting for long. I am afraid I am less hopeful about the music situation - we are a species that is so good at solving the wrong problem, and it sounds like the administration is proving that in spades.

twinsetjan said...

I am LOVING that sweater! And am in need of new projects...this just jumped to the possibles.

Have you heard about STEAM? It's the addition of "Arts" to STEM...in recognition that science, technology, engineering and mathematics are so, so much more successful when the creativity of the arts is added. Full steam ahead on your efforts to sustain the arts in your schools!

AlisonH said...

Our middle and high school had a jazz program in my kids' days because the regular teacher *volunteered* his time before and after school for it! If I had the training for it, now that my kids are grown, I would go do that myself now as a thank you. Music programs, arts programs--they're just so essential.