Saturday, June 14, 2008

Big Storm, No Internet

The recording from my Internet provider's technical support line said on Friday that the storm had blown something major for us wireless customers, and they'd get it fixed as soon as they could. The guy who made that recording had that desperately miserable tone of voice which people sometimes get when they are being harassed unendingly about things beyond their control. (Ask me how I know that sound.) And now they aren't even answering their tech line with a recording, which I do not take as a positive sound.

I'll post as soon as I can, and catch you up on the continuing adventures. The short story: more storms, tornado sighted but did not touch down, another windy farmer's market with minimal results but hopeful signs, and Tasha - and her laundry - are home for Father's Day weekend.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Reality Check

I read somewhere that among people who land it big, whether as an artist who achieves sudden recognition or an actor chosen for a big role, or a worker promoted unexpectedly, there is a tendency to feel as if their good fortune is undeserved. No matter how smart or funny or talented they are, they have this (sometimes unconscious) fear that they will be found out to be merely normal. There is a constant underlying strain as they wait for people "find out the truth" and their new world to crumble around them.

I struggle with this a bit. Not that I have made it big in any traditional sense. But I have this unspoken nervousness that my boss will discover that I'm not as good at my job as she thinks I am, or that my craft stuff or photography is really not particularly interesting to anyone but me. Even as I was taking my morning constitutional (another 2 miles today, for a total of 10 this week), what kept running through my mind was the scene from The Quiet Man where Maureen O'Hara exclaims to John Wayne that 7 miles was just "a good stretch of the legs." That's 7 miles each way - which makes my 2 mile round trip less of an achievement and more of a pitiful excuse.

Yesterday my boss told me that I need to document more of my efforts at work. I tend to put in more than the required hours, and privately use this to justify the occasional unproductive mid-day distraction (hello, Ravelry?). I regularly stay late and work through lunch and take on extra projects which can't be billed to a client, but suddenly I'm fighting off guilt for not being a super-paralegal/office manager/fill-in assistant/gofer/etc. And the movie that's playing in my mind this time is The Devil Wears Prada, where Anne Hathaway has been dealing with the impossible demands of an unreasonable and uncaring boss, is scolded for not "really trying," and then somehow pulls it all out and becomes super assistant. Yet another way in which I do not resemble Anne Hathaway - or the movies, for that matter.

(And did you notice that I got through that whole "expectations, internal and external versus reality" thing without once using the word "diet"?)

It is what it is, and I have to keep reminding myself of that.

On the knitting front - I've picked up the yellow wool, and should be working madly on the last wingtip for the Tree of Life shawl. But the Meg Swanson newsletter yesterday included a comment about "Indian Corn Stitch," which got me curious about it. And when I saw the red/white/blue "stripes" cotton at Hobby Lobby, it gave me as good an excuse as any to do just one more cotton hat for the farmer's market. So, I give you the patriotic Indian corn hat. Same recipe as before, but with 3 rows of seed stitch, then the Indian corn stitch broken up by 3 rows of stockinette in between, and then the standard star decrease. Hopefully someone else will like it, too.

ETA: Indian Corn Stitch: YO, knit two, pass YO loop over two knit stitches, repeat. Work 2 or 3 rows of stockinette, then do it again. Sorry!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rorschach Test

This is the old cedar opposit the quarter-marker at the end of my walking route. It reminds me of some sort of monochromatic Wisconsin version of Munch's The Scream.

Then again, what was the name of that talking tree from H.R. Pufnstuf?

Apathy as a blessing

I found out today, in an off-hand comment e-mailed from someone I rarely contact, that the preacher who founded the church where I grew up has died. I'm not sure how I feel about that. Relief - although he ceased to have any power over me decades ago, and apparently ceased to have any power over anyone else at least a few years ago. Pity - the only reports I have were filtered through three or four sources at minimum, and few of those charitable, but it appears that he died a desperately miserable, addled old man, possibly in pain and probably shunned by the leaders of the church he founded. But even these were fairly subdued reactions. He just didn't really matter to me anymore.

This man caught my mother in his web of Bible verses and demands for contributions when I was child. He encouraged her to sell her home and donate the proceeds to the church; to enroll herself and her children in the "Bible College" and "Christian Day School," respectively, that he launched; and to fall into an unthinking haze of blind obedience to "God's will." Even setting aside the other abuses of body and spirit which thrived in that environment, he personally had an enormous impact on the direction my early life was forced to take.

There's a web site (several, actually) with message boards full of comments from former members of the church. On one of them (, there was a discussion of whether this man truly went to heaven or to hell. There are strong opinions from both sides, as you can imagine. One person likened him unfavorably to Hitler. But my own minister, a UCC guy with whom I have a very bumpy relationship, asserts that God's love is enough to cover any sin - even those committed by Carl H. Stevens, Jr., a bakery delivery man who 50 years or so ago decided to do some preaching.

Me - it's not that I'm apathetic on the issue. I'm just glad I'm not the one who must decide on that man's eternal fate. I try very hard to remember that all of humanity are siblings, born from the same family and prone to the same faults. I try to avoid grudges and think of a person's potential for future good. But I don't think I could, or certainly should, sit judgment on this pitiful little man in a bad toupee. No matter if his actions did cause irreparable, and possibly incalculable harm to me and to those whom I love.

They say that the opposite of love is not hate, but apathy. If the corollary is true, then perhaps my lack of real reaction to this death is a blessing. I have let it all go.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Before and After

Can you stand another photo-heavy post?

I walked again this morning, a little further along the same route. (I found that next quarter marker about 30 yards past where I turned around yesterday, so today I officially walked 2 miles and a bit.) It was a beautiful morning with the kind of blue sky and fluffy clouds that you associate with a dairy commercial - although the cows were strangely absent today.

In any case, see what I mean about that field? Maybe my amber sunglasses made it jump out, because when you look at it from a distance you see beige. Very different from all the surrounding green, but it's still beige.

But when you get up close, you see red! Brown! Amber! (And maybe a little poison ivy. The jury's still out on that, but I'll probably know by tomorrow.) What's with all the fall color when it's not even summer yet?

And also on the subject of vegetative drama, check out my poppies. I love how they go from completely demure to hooker-flashy in the span of a 45 minute stroll.

In other news, Jodi called to say that the fresh supply of yellow wool for the Tree of Life shawl is in. I didn't pick it up yesterday, because my neuritis was yelling at me very loudly and knitting just wasn't an option. But today is a brand new day, and if I pick the yarn up at lunch and kick things into gear tonight, there's a slim chance that the whole thing will be ready on Father's day.

Monday, June 9, 2008

I took a walk this morning

The paint marking quarter sections in the road seems to have been worn away over the winter, or perhaps the road was re-topped and nobody has bothered to put new paint around the iron marker yet. In any case, there is one (still visible) marker at the edge of our yard, and I'm dead certain there should be another one up where Blueberry Road crosses. Assuming those markers are 1/2 mile apart (or 1/2 the length of a section, which is 320 rods or 1 mile wide), I think I walked at least a mile and a half. I seem to remember a fast walk being about 4 miles per hour, so I really think I should have gotten further than that in 45 minutes, even if there were hills involved. I have a strong urge to drive it with the car to check, although that flies in the face of our whole energy conservation ideal.

I couldn't find my mp3 player, so I just tucked my phone in my pocket for emergencies and trucked on down the road, letting my mind wander. I notice the buttercups and cowslips are blooming, as well as those pink primrose-looking flowers. The wild phlox is rioting, which means the peonies will bloom soon. And it was a cool morning, with the kind of light mist which always reminds me of sipping tea on Berkshire mornings in my teens. The cows were clearly puzzled by my presence, and I was fascinated by the reds and golds of a field of old soybeans or something, dazzling against the lush greenery our recent rain has generated.

All in all, a good way to start the day.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Pomp and Circumstance

I won the tie-wearing argument, the no-sneakers argument, and the belt argument. I even won the "you will let me take your picture" argument. Three times. Actually, come think of it, I won all the arguments today. That either means I'm getting better, or that Luc was in a mellow mood and was willing to accept my viewpoint on some things. I'm betting the latter.

I was surprised by the fact that students were allowed to decorate the tops of their mortarboards with glitter and dingleballs and sequins, and in one case most of the contents of a bag of Hershey's assorted chocolates. And cans of silly string were openly stored beneath chairs and sprayed everywhere at the end - although I suppose it's safer than the traditional throwing of the mortarboards. Back when I graduated from high school, we were sternly warned that the sharp corners of a descending mortarboard could "put an eye out."

The normal platitudes and pat appreciations were passed out, with half a dozen girls thanking different people at different times for "being there for me." And the commencement address centered on Dr. Seuss' "The Places You Will Go" and the Disney business plan: the gold paint on the carousels is actual 23 kt. gold, and the 37 hitching posts are repainted every night so they always look fresh, and so on. As Luc described it later, "the guy spent 20 minutes talking about paint." But the band executed a passable rendition of "Pomp and Circumstance," and later rocked a few favorites like "Louie, Louie" and "Crazy Train." And with only 150 or so graduates, the whole thing went reasonably fast.

And now, as Luc has pointed out at least twice, he is a graduate. I asked him if he was proud of himself, and he said that he might be proud on his death bed. I guess he doesn't think he's earned it yet. Still, when I told him I was proud of him, he seemed content. And he keeps opening up that leatherette case with his name embossed in gold on the front to stare at the diploma inside.