Monday, February 27, 2006

The Olympics are Over

and I haven't finished the sweater yet. I got the collar done last night and another couple of inches of the sleeve done. But it's not finished. And closing ceremonies were last night (more about those later).

I think that I'm a lot like Frode Estil, the Norwegian Skier who passed 77 other skiers to take the silver in the 15km Cross Country race. He finished 28th, though, in the 30km. Obviously I needed to make a sweater 1/2 this size to have finished in the medals...

But I will finish.

Overall impressions of the closing ceremony:

Who the heck picked the music for this thing, The Bee Gee's? Is Italy really so musically culturally poor that they have to rely on Ricky Martin and The Village People for inspiration? Oy!

And really, what's with all the arialists? It was cool in France, and they invented Circe d' Solie, so it speaks to their culture, but I'm really tired of it now and it doesn't speak to Italian culture.

The Clowns and the Fiat's and the Fan/Flying and the entire carnival thing were really cool. I'd like to try that flying thing... if I could do it without hurting myself.

Andrea Bocelli is really amazing.

And the NBC piece about Vernon Baker was great.

I'm so tired of the Bode Miller hype. I bet he is too. And, apparently, no one at NBC was paying attention when he said that he thought that doing your best was good enough, and he didn't think medals were all they were cracked up to be.

Overall, the entire Olympic Knitting was a great thing. I'll lumber on, knowing that even though I finished out of the medals, even though I finished back in the pack, for this time, in this place, I competed with the best, and I am... an Olympian.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Illusions and Delusions

I'm still delusional enough to think I might finish this sweater before closing ceremony tomorrow.. The body of the Endless Sweater is done. I've got 4 of the 8 inches of turtle neck done, and up to the elbow of of a sleeve. It may not be sewn together, but all the knitting will be done.

My husband tried on the body of the sweater 2 nights ago and loves it (even though its too short for me). He was hoping I could get it done by today (HA!) so he could wear it to the Hockey Tournament.

My youngest son, and future Olympic Hopeful has a 2 day hockey tournament. I have to knit AND take video for my sister downstate. Her daughters think that watching their 5 year old cousin on the TV is absolutely *THE* thing to do and are demanding more.

My husband's video camera will do about 45 minutes on the card, so I'll still have time to knit on the sleeve. Only about ... gods... a foot? to go on this one. Then the other one tonight and tomorrow, finish the collar, sew it all together...

Delusional is the word.

Monday, February 20, 2006

And the other thing.

The Mechanical Engineering Department is hiring 4 new faculty members. Thus we have 13 - 15 candidates running the gauntlet.

And a gauntlet it is, too. These poor folk start out with dinner with the Dean and/or the Chair on the night they get in. The guy doing his turn today got in from Korea 2 days ago, flew into Houghton last night, then got to have jetlagged dinner with the Chair and one of the Sr. Professors.

Breakfast this morning was with the Dean. Then an interview with the Chair, an interview with someone from the interested research area, a tour with "The Computer Lady", discussion with grad students who want you to remember them and hire them away from their current advisor, lunch with all the faculty, interview with the Associate Chair, meet more faculty, then benefits, then a seminar to which all of campus is invited, then a campus tour/interview with someone else, then dinner with more faculty. Breakfast the next day with area faculty, more tours, an exit interview with the Chair and/or the Dean, lunch with another faculty member and fly out.

After breakfast with the Dean, the candidates start looking like deer in the headlights. By the time they get to me, they're either completely catatonic or babbling.

I have business cards. It's a normal business card on the front and it says "The Computer Lady" on the back. I found this means, if they're hired, they might actually talk to me before requesting computers they can't get at this university and which we won't support even if they do manage to get them.

Knitting: I did manage to knit 3 repeats on the sweater back last night. I have, however, forgotten my sleeve for knitting at therapy today!! ARGH! I'm planning on leaving a little early to run home and get it.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

This and that

There have been a couple of "incidents" amongst the students who work for me in the past 6 months... ok, a stalker and some "inappropriate touching". Enough of a problem on our quiet campus that I offered to fund a self defense class for the students who work in my lab. These kids keep my labs open from 8am - 11pm, 7 days a week, and are the best trained lab assistants on campus, bar none... and all they get is a couple of perks for it, while saving the students who use the labs tons of money.

The class was taught by the local karate dojo yesterday. To encourage all the students to take it, myself and Kim, the staff member who's in charge of the volunteers, took it too.

Neither Kim nor I are in the best of shape, and I'm in my 40's while she's in her 30's. With the winter we've had the most exercise I've had is walking to my car... and Kim isn't much better.... and we voluntarily attended a self defense class designed for college students... we are probably out of our minds... what we are for sure is sore.

Last night I managed to knit one row on my Knitting Olympic Endless Sweater before falling asleep. I fell asleep before my boys came to bed. I'm not even sure the Olympic theme had finished playing, as I don't actually remember watching anything last night.

Patrick was worried about me. I woke up a bit when he came in at 8:30 because he was rubbing my back. He told my husband "Mama doesn't feel well so I'm rubbing her back." I didn't even wake up enough to thank him. I did wake up enough at some point to hear Bode Miller, the US downhill skier, lose his ski... or maybe his footing... or something... my husband said I muttered "Did he fall again?" before falling back to sleep.

A handful of Ibuprofen has me moving today... and hopefully I got enough sleep so that I can actually do a couple of repeats on that sweater. I accidently looked at Stephanie's counter today... less than 7 days left... ARGH! 1/2 the back and 2 sleeves to finish!!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

My mother-in-law

My mother-in-law was a blessing. She was a "liberated woman" long before (or long after) such a thing was fashionable. She worked outside the home before, during and after it became acceptable. She was a bright and intelligent woman right up to her last, who spoke several languages and had a bachelors and masters degree in a time when women were lucky to get an 8th grade education. She owned a horse camp through the 60's and 70's in the "Back of Beyond" in Tennessee, which she made work until she was physically no longer able to do it, and still had an old, retired horse until a couple of months before she died.

My husband was her last child, born into a marriage which was already disintegrating due to depression and alcoholism. She stayed with her husband another 6 years, until she figured out that staying in a bad marriage was worse on her children then no marriage at all. As that was 1966, it was a courageous decision.

She took her baby out into the "Back of Beyond" and raised a fine man.

Jean believed that it was not only a sensible thing to teach her boys how to do "women's work", but that it was her obligation to her boys and to women of the future to do so. All 4 of her sons have, sooner or later, appreciated her for her insistence that boys needed to know how to do something other than take out the garbage.

My husband cooks, he does dishes and laundry, he can, if emergency situations arise, clean as well as I do. He knows how to knit and weave and sew. And all of this I owe to my mother in law (and her daughter, my sister-in-law who helped raise my husband.)

My mother-in-law has been dead for 6 years, and I miss her... so what brings this up now? I really really wish that my mother-in-law had taught my husband not to wash wool.

I opened the washer this morning and found my wool shawl... slightly felted.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Day 5 of the Knitting Olympics

Hey, what do you want? I've been knitting, not typing!! That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

I have been knitting. During the Opening Ceremonies, I did 4 repeats! That's more than I've done in a year! And that got me to the split for the sleeves. Saturday I got to the neck split. Sunday I did the right front side. Yesterday, being therapy day, I worked on the sleeve... I'm planning on eating lunch and working on the sleeve again until lunch is over... then back to the front of the sweater tonight.

I really believe I can do this... which is not a good way for me to think.. .because then I start thinking "Hey, I could just work on the angora shawl for a little while, I have lots of time." No no!! MUST FINISH THE RACE (I mean endless sweater) FIRST. THEN I can work on the angora shawl, or the son-in-law socks, or the grandbaby blanket... but all those things are so *shiney* and so much prettier, softer, nicer than this stupid old sweater...

My husband is being encouraging. He's even cast on his own -- uh-- thing. He knows how to knit, but it's not really his idea of fun. He does like to weave, however, and I've pointed out that the yarn he's cast on would make an excellent warp... but he's hanging in there.

So can I.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

100 Days!

My kindergartner, Patrick, was almost wetting his pants in excitement today. It's the 100th day of school. They've been counting down to this day for 2 weeks, as well as counting to 100 several times a day.

Last night we sat and counted out 100 M&M's again, 10 of each color and then another 10 of the brown, blue, orange and green "because they're his favorites". This is the second batch of M&M's we counted because he had to WRITE about it this time.

They're having a BIG PARTY, with parents invited and they made special shirts and "everything."

He's so excited, he's cute.

He's quite unclear about this whole "uncle" business, and has told people he's going to be "a grandfather" quite a few times.

He's also unclear about several other things. This morning he says "Mama, you should get married."

I said " I am married, to your dad."

He says "You should marry someone else... someone you like..."

In the meantime, his older brother is laughing... I say "You shouldn't laugh, you always thought I should marry Uncle Garrett."

Uncle Garrett is a family friend that lives downstate, whom the boys like quite a bit.

Patrick says "No, me and Mike will marry Uncle Garrett, you marry someone else."

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Amazing Michael

Yesterday was therapy day in the Peed household.

My son, Michael, has a learning -- uh-- difference that has to do with a lack of fine motor control. This makes reading and writing very difficult for him... our optometrist in Chicago described it as trying to read or write while jumping on a pogo stick on a bumpy road. His eyes constantly refocus and backtrack which makes reading an enormous task.

Last May we found a behavioral optometrist in Marquette (110.8 miles from our house) who claims to be able to help develop visual and motor skills to cope with this issue. Every Monday for 40 weeks, I pick Mike up after school and drive for 2 hours to get to therapy, sit and knit for an hour, do drive-thru to get dinner and drive 2 hours home.

Every night we do the therapy-of-the-week for 30 (or so) minutes. Every 8 weeks we do a progress check. Michael has been "put in charge" of his therapy. We don't remind him, we don't nag him, he needs to remind us that it's time to do therapy. He's done pretty well, overall. His reward is that when he gets a good progress report, we stop at his favorite restaurant-- Red Lobster.

As of his first progress report, he was (in 3rd grade) reading at 1st grade level with 70% accuracy and his eyes were backtracking an obscene amount (like 1080 times). After 8 months, he is reading at a 4th grade level with 70% accuracy and his eyes are backtracking 147 times. Yippee!

I've certainly noticed the improvement, as has he... we had dinner at Red Lobster last night.

One of the things this time alone with Mike has provided is "just us" time to talk. Sometimes we talk about Yu-Gi-Oh or Karate. Sometimes we talk about school, or friends. Sometimes he sleeps, or we sing along to the radio...

Last night, he was in a philosophical mood. We started out by talking Politics. He thinks the President is "dumb" because he "got us into a war" and "people are getting killed, maybe even Uncle Sam." So we talked... we talked about reasons for fighting and situations when it's ok to fight and when it's not. It's possible that he's thought about this more than the "normal" 10 year old because he's been in Karate for so long and it's something they talk about there.

He has, he tells me, "rules for ok fights." It's ok to stand up for yourself. If a "bully" is yelling at you, you can't hit them. If s/he hits you, you can block, you can tell the teacher, or, if you have to, you can hit them. If a "bully" is picking on someone smaller than they are, you can stand up for them. If a Big Kid is picking on a Little Kid, you should tell them to knock it off, you should get the teacher, or you might have to hit the Big Kid. If a Big Kid is fighting with a Big Kid, you should tell the teacher, or get Dylan (Dylan is my nephew, who is older and bigger and respected amongst the other big kids). If a grown up you don't know grabs you, you should get away, run away, or hit them, "depending".

We extrapolated these rules into countries and wars. Should the United States go to war to fight to protect the Jews in Germany? What about when we were attacked in Pearl Harbor? Those were both a sound YES. What about Afghanistan after 9/11? Yes. "But mom," he says, "Saddam Hussein wasn't attacking us, he was just calling us names. And we shouldn't fight with a bully who is only calling us names... that makes us a bully, too."

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Perfect Storm... er... blanket

Yesterday was "a day" for my boys... they decided that they couldn't be in the same room together, they weren't doing well on the same floor of the house... and, in fact, they quite possibly couldn't stand to be in the same HOUSE together... A little bit of the winter blahs.

We separated them and put one in the Library upstairs watching Star Wars, and the other in the TV room watching Rug Rats. Which left no TV for mom, who had just bought a stack of grown up movies.

I have this laptop with a big screen. And it has a DVD player... the solution is to watch Mom's new DVD's on her computer!

I sat and watched The Thomas Crown Affair and worked on a garter stitch baby blanket for my new grandchild. Then I put in The Perfect Storm, which I had mostly bought for my husband, thinking it was a macho-guy movie... It was MUCH better than I expected... It's a good thing I was only working on a garter stitch blanket, as I sat there knitting and completely rivetted. I can't imagine how that must have looked on the big screen. I was on a 17 inch laptop screen and it was amazing... and a very good story as well.
By the time I got to The Legend of Zorro I had 6 inches of the blanket done, and 2 very bored little boys who snuggled up with me to watch whatever mom was doing... and to comment on the really soft stripey blanket I was working on...

This one might not make it to the new baby, as my kindergarterner was rubbing his face on the skein saying "soffffttttttt".

A good reaction, all in all.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Sometimes you find the oddest things at Walmart

We're out of light bulbs. We've been out of light bulbs for a couple of months, but it's not something that I think about when I'm at the store. The lights which have been burning out aren't really important-- 1 of 3 in the dining room, the light in the hall by the bathroom, a couple of lights on the vanity, a light in the basement...

Then.... THEN ... the light in the craft room burnt out!! I suddenly remembered I needed light bulbs, such that as part of my errands today I went to Walmart to buy light bulbs. 77 cents a package, I picked up 10... and while I'm there...

I had quite a bit of misc. acrylic and machine washable yarn this time last year. Then my neices learned to knit and that was the last of my misc. yarn. I was beating them off the alpaca and cashmere by the time Christmas rolled around. Fortunately their parents have started supplying the yarn, but now... I have a new grandchild on the way. I know my daughter. I can knit it in wool, but I'd better be prepared to see it once and then never again, or else clean it myself.

I decided to check the yarn aisle at Walmart. I believe babies should wear bright colors. There's some nice stuff in acrylic-- I picked up some to do a "tropical colors" blanket of some sort... I don't know what I have in mind, exactly, but something. I also picked up some Bernat wool blends to do a sweater...

Then I happened down the clearance aisle... WOW! They've got wool blend yarn for $2/ball!

I now have plenty of acrylic yarn in bright colors-- purple, turquois, red, white, pink, green, yellow-- I didn't pay attention to the brand, but it's very soft, and new mom proof-- that is-- machine washable.

I see a sweater or two, a blanket, and ... who knows!! Buying yarn, even cheap acrylic yarn, makes me happy...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Another reason to knit

My daughter is getting married in October. We had a date to go to a wedding expo on Sunday. I met her and her fiance of two years at my sister's resturant just after breakfast and she said "Sit down, mom." I mentioned that we were running late, and she said "You're going to want to sit down." I thought "Oh oh, her stupid car is broken again and she wants to borrow some money." I sat.

She said "I'm pregnant."

I'm floored.

My baby is going to have a baby! When did she get old enough to have children? I've just gotten used to the fact that she's old enough to get married!!! (No, I haven't, but-- well-- the wedding isn't until October. I still have time.)

My sisters all think this is a hysterical turn of events. "You're going to be a GRANDMOTHER!" The folk who work for me are looking up other names for grandmother and trying them out on me, "Babushka" is the name for the day.

My mother gets it, though. Her reply was "I'm not old enough to be a great-grandmother." I know that I'm old enough to be a grandmother. Hell, I'm older than my grandmother was when she became a grandmother. I'm significantly older than my mother was when she became a grandmother (her own fault, as I've pointed out, because she became a mother so young.) But... my baby is going to have a baby... I just can't get over it....

On one hand, I'm worried to death about her, her financial situation isn't very stable, she's got an old car that's on its last legs, etc etc etc.

On the other hand, I'm going through the stash, finding yarn to knit baby stuff.... I have this bright red sport weight wool that would make a lovely little gender neutral sweater (I don't like pastels on babys, I think they should wear bright colors) and I have some stripey sock yarn which would be fun to do a baby sweater out of... and ... hum... some bulky chenille that would make a great blanket...

I think it's going to take me a while to get used to this. Knitting will help.