Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thanks Capital One, But We're OK

Email Message From Capital One: Please call us ASAP so that we can confirm that your credit card account has not been compromised. There has been unusual activity on it today.

What I Would Have Emailed Back Had I Not Simply Called: Dear Capital One. Thank you for your concern. There was indeed excessive activity on our account today, to the tune of $3,300. I spent five unbelievable weeks in the British Isles during my senior year of college, and we have decided for some reason that my daughter should get to have a European experience too before she even goes to college. She is going on a fast-paced tour which will be much different than my more slow-paced experience, staying in bed and breakfasts, hiking through quaint villages like York and Cambridgeshire, and attempting to read Dubliners at a park near the Guinness Brewery after having a pint....or two.  When we decided to give our daughter this Christmas, birthday, and graduation present combined, we anticipated having paid for the entire trip long before this time, but the economy seems to have affected our finances a bit, so we have not paid a cent since our original $1,000 down payment. Rest assured that we will eventually pay off this amount, but for now, enjoy charging us the nine percent interest rate that we have agreed to have between us, and thanks for checking on us. It is true that we are ordinarily much more frugal than it appears that we are being this month.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Inexorable Week

Note to self; stop and smell the flowers this weekend. My daffodils have been blooming for over a week, and they're just beautiful. I started out with around three or four bulbs, and they've continued to multiply every year. I don't think daffodils actually smell, but I do plan to enjoy some hours in the garden enjoying all of my flowers that are starting to bloom.

I knew that this week was going to wear me out. I started out the week with freshmen orientation, which lasted most of Monday evening. Tuesday I had a field trip up to the mountains to re-enact the trial and beheading of Louis XVI with forty-five high school kids, then that evening, I had to teach my college class, which means that I basically put in a fourteen hour day. Wednesday was a little more relaxed, other than we had an hour and a half meeting with the leader of Paige's Europe trip that she'll be going on this summer.
Thursday night was our first swim meet of the season. Fun, but also freezing cold (OK, it wasn't really freezing, but it was COLD!) I did get a little knitting done last night at the swim meet though. I've discovered that if you volunteer to time in the end lanes that you'll ooccasionally have some free time since some events won't have enough kids for every lane. So, here it is Friday night. I still have lots of papers to grade since all of my grading time was eaten up by the list I've must mentioned. I'm thinking that a little trip to one of our little town's ten Mexican restaurants is a good idea, and then I'll take care of those papers, and then....I'll really enjoy this weekend.
 Finally, I finished my little pink Fancy socks. I have that wonderful forty minutes between getting home from running in the morning and getting ready for work that I drink my coffee and knit. It's amazing how much I get knit during that time. I've decided to give them to my cousin's little girl. I gave her a bunny last year, and she wrote me a darling little thank you note. I'd say that's a kid who deserves another little gift.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Little Bit of Christmas

The problem with setting a goal to write in your blog one time more each month than the year before is that sometimes you have absolutely nothing to say. Fortunately, I haven't set a particularly high bar in that area, so I won't worry that my post today is unexceptional. I bought a little Christmas ornament kit at a quilt shop in Bakersfield called Strawberry Patches a while back. There were six patterns for little appliqued felt ornaments in the kit, but the mittens were the ones that really hooked me. As is often my habit, I never touched any of them during Christmas and was about ready to forget about them until next Christmas when I discovered some more felt kits at Prairie Point Junction Quilt Shop's website. I loved the Easter-themed mats and ornaments, but realistically thought I shouldn't consider buying one if I didn't actually like doing the applique. So, last night I tried making one of the Christmas ornaments and was pretty successful. My work isn't perfect, but it's not supposed to look like a machine did it anyway. Mmmmm, which Easter pattern do I buy now.

It's kind of funny that I stumbled upon Prairie Point Junction Quilt Shop because it's located Cozad, Nebraska, which is in Western Nebraska,  pretty much the middle of nowhere. When we used to drive to see Russ's family during the summers, we'd drive through Cozad and would feel so relieved that it was "only" four more hours to Lincoln. I have a sad reason to remember Cozad too, a reason that I re-visit every year when I teach the play Our Town to my students. In the first act of the play, there's a brief scene with Joe Crowell, the paperboy. The Stage Manager, who  knows the future of every character, interjects, (Yes, I have these lines memorized.)

Let me tell you something about Joe Crowell there. 
Joe was awful bright—graduated from high school here,
head of his class. So he got a scholarshipto Massachusetts Tech.
Graduated head of his class there, too.
It was all wrote up in the Boston paper at the time. Goin’ to be
a great engineer, Joe was. But the war broke out and he died
in France. All that education for nothing.

I went to college with a girl named Julie from Cozad twenty-five years ago. I didn't know her really well, but she came in the library where I worked a lot and was always so cheerful and was an incredible student and go-getter.  I'm pretty sure that she was the valedictorian of the class behind me. The first year that I started teaching in California, I heard that she had been killed on one of her first days of teaching in Oklahoma. She was behind a tractor trailer rig on the way to work, and the trailer came unhitched.  I couldn't stop thinking about her that year, and when I read those lines later in the year in Our Town, I told my students about Julie, making the Joe Crowell connection.  All of these years later, I still think of her when I teach Our Town,  and of her family in that little town of Cozad, and how Thornton Wilder was an incredible writer, except for that weird part at the end where the people who have died are just sitting there in chairs. Sooo, I already buy Wilder's whole idea about the universality of human experiences, but it really hit me that I had just finished teaching Our Town this week, and had recently told my students about how, unfortunately, there are lot of "Joe Crowell stories" around the world; and then I randomly come across a cute, little website from Julie's hometown. The world really isn't that big in a lot of ways, and we are all tied together more than we realize. I'd be willing to bet there's someone who works at Prairie Point Junction who is still sad every once in a while because something reminds them of Julie, just like I am.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Just Showing Off

I've so enjoyed the Winter Olympics this week. It's the perfect excuse to sit and knit. I don't want to have to concentrate though, so I've been knitting some fancy socks. Actually, I also knit another Thorpe Hat for one of my daughter's friends earlier in the week, but my daughter delivered it before I could snap a pic. I've had this pattern bookmarked forever. I found it in on A Bluestocking Knits, and thought it was so pretty. I started to knit a pair a couple of times, but I just couldn't get the lace right. This time I really thought about it as I knit and realized that there's a small error in the pattern. (At least, I think so.) My daughter is past pink, lacey socks, so I'm not sure who I'm giving them to.

I also have to show off what I've been able to do in my backyard this month. I've been "harvesting" lettuce. I'm bragging because this is one of the few times of the year that I'm pretty sure I have it better than almost everyone else I know weather-wise. I'll be miserable in July, but right now, there's nothing like Central California in February!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Still Needing to Learn My Manners

OK, so before I brag about finished my second Icewine Mitten I have to tell an embarrassing story from my past. When my husband and I were first married, we spent a lot of time with a single friend of ours just going to movies, concerts, and whatever. We'd run into this guy from work and his wife every once in a while. The guy was really nice, and his wife seemed nice enough, but every time we'd see them, the guy would ask us if we'd met his wife, and she'd act like we'd never met me before.  She already knew my friend for some reason, but she never remembered who I was. I don't know exactly why it bugged me, but it did. It was such a dismissal, and besides she kind of seemed to think she was all that. Here's where I reveal my true petty nature. night, we went to this concert--in a church--, and there they were. Same dismissal again. We were sitting right behind them. I took out my program and wrote a note to my friend, something to the effect that the"wife" was a snit. I probably didn't write what I really thought because I was in church, after all. Well, no sooner than I had finished writing my nasty, little note, then the "wife" turns around and asks if she can look at my program because they didn't get one! I hurriedly scratched out what I had written. It was awkward to say the least, at least for me. She had to have wondered what I was doing hesitating to give her that program, busily scribbling away.

I thought that that experience had cured me of being petty in public; however, I guess it didn't.. Wednesday, I wrote a snarky post mentioning Heather Ordover from Craftlit , and she read it, the part where I so caddily complained of her raspy voice when she was battling pneumonia. I never thought she'd read my blog. She was really cute about it, but I'm still a little embarrassed. I mean, she provided me a wonderful service for free, and I'm constantly on her site, browsing through the book choices or reading her knitting posts, then I go and complain that she was sick and that her illness had interfered with my listening pleasure. How Rude. Maybe this time I'll learn to think before I write.

Now, on to a little knitting. I had a small group of knitters from work over to my house yesterday for a couple of hours of knitting, and I finished my mittens. They're for my friend, Julie. She and I had a Christmas swap this year, and among the innumerable gifts she gave me was a box of icewine tea. I'd never heard of it  before, but it's delicious. I ran into the pattern for these icewine mittens and just had to knit them for her. I'm not too worried that I'm ruining any surprise because I happen to know that Julie's working on a big paper this week. And, if she does read this, well she'll have something to look forward to.

I had a little bit of yarn left, so I knit one more heart with it. I think I'll throw it in with the mittens when I send them to Julie.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Love Hearts

Well, I'm not doing so well with my post writing goals for this month. For some crazy reason, I had five posts last February. I better get writing if I'm going to beat that this year. I don't have a mitten to show off just yet, but I'm within minutes of being finished with my second one again. I received so many encouraging comments about not giving up on it that I just couldn't call it quits!

Everything has gone well with my second try on my Icewine Mitten, except that I had to reknit the thumb twice. They took quite a lot of concentration, so I knit a couple of mindless projects this week while I was listening to Frankenstein  for the college class I'm teaching. I'm kind of proud of these hearts. I'm not all into Valentine's Day, but I do love hearts. I kind of made up the pattern. Most heart patterns I've seen seem to be knit in the round. I knit those little hearts in my middle picture in the round last year. I adjusted a  couple of patterns I stumbled upon for garter stitch hearts on Diary of a Novice Knitter's blog and  Katydid and Kid. Both patterns were cute, but I wanted my hearts to be three-dimentional with a crochet edge. I ended up basically following Katydid's pattern, but instead of using garter stitch, I used stockinette. I knit two of them and then used a picot crochet edging to sew both sides together.

They were the perfect project to work on while listening to a book. I think I've mentioned before that I've enjoyed using Craftlit to listen to books while I knit. I love the concept since it allows me to "read" books while doing my most favorite thing--knitting. I haven't taught Frankenstein before, so I wanted to be really familiar with it. Heather Ordover, Craftlit's creator, had discussed Frankenstein two years ago. She begins by discussing some knitting issues, and then discusses whatever book she's focusing on for the month or longer. She uses Librivox for the actual reading of the books. I enjoyed her discussion a lot of the time although I have to admit that she was beginning to annoy me a bit....OK, a lot!  She was sick for a good deal of her discussion of Frankenstein and although I admire her tenacity, I really didn't enjoy hearing her sputter and swallow into the microphone. I'm sorry, Heather, I hope you don't read this because I know you're well meaning, but it was starting to exasperate me. On the other hand, on good days, I  realy like her perkiness and love of knitting and books. She's a part-time English professor, so her discussions are particularly applicable for me.