Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WIP Wednesday at Long Last

It has been so long since I posted a WIP Wednesday link-up, I had almost forgotten about most of my quilt projects.  A busy summer, an even busier start to the school year... well, I have been getting back to some of my quilt habits just to stay sane.  Not much knitting has been getting done; that seems to be the tradeoff.
 I have been working on my variation of a Bonnie Hunter pattern, the Santa Fe String Star quilt.  I have made enough diamonds to begin piecing the larger diamonds one row at a time.  I'm working very carefully and trying not to tug at those bias seams too much.  So far I'm partway through the third of the five rows.
 When I'm done I'll have eight diamonds to make the big central medallion star.  And then I'll have to figure out how to set it... I already know I don't want to do flying geese.
Here are the extra diamonds for the last two rows: I still have some more to make, but I'm making them at the same time as I'm seaming the rows together so it's progressing nicely.  I'm thinking about making smaller stars for the setting, to break up the large stretches of what will probably be gray background fabric.  I'm getting excited about it!
 I haven't shared these two quilts that my Mother-in-Law had me pin for her.
I especially like this one... so cheerful.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Randomday

School: Six weeks down, three left in the first quarter.  I am a little bit more used to the schedule but I still find myself utterly exhausted by early afternoon, every single day.  Students progressing acceptably; parent-teacher conferences approaching next week.  Cleaning the house is not happening, dinner is happening, but not always prepared by me.

Family: Daniel doing well at college, Peter is having his first drill weekend since Basic Training, and experiencing normal Senior year stress.  Cross-Country season is almost over for him.  Tertia went bowling with her class this week and continues to get up early and get ready to meet the school bus every day with a smile on her face.  Quarta... just won a writing contest for the local library, and you can read her goofy detective story here, along with the other winning entries.  We went to the awards ceremony with author Blythe Woolston, who writes the kind of YA novels I don't really ever read, but who gave one of the best author talks I've ever heard, full of humor and insight despite her preference for bleak storylines.  Quarta received a personally autographed copy of Black Helicopters, which I hope she doesn't read for quite some time yet.  Yeah, that difference between J and YA is a wide gulf.  Personally, I like children's literature to be for children, but it is quite interesting to hear about the different trends in publishing.

I have been quilting a bunch in the time when I'm not teaching; it has been a lot of fun to see my rainbow string star grow bit by bit.  I still haven't taken any pictures of it.

Steve bought a dehumidifier to combat the ever-present damp... the heat hasn't been turned on yet this fall but the moisture keeps building up.

I have an appointment Monday afternoon to put a crown on my cracked molar.  Better then than Thursday as originally scheduled, which would be right during parent-teacher conferences.

The girls and I went shopping for a horse costume for Quarta's school play, without too much success.  We went to Goodwill, Party City, JoAnn's, and I finally found coconuts at the third grocery store of the day.  Yes, we are going to attempt a Monty Python approach.  Power of suggestion, although we did get a brown shirt at Goodwill and Quarta can probably come up with a yarn tail and some cardboard ears.  I'm trying to convince her that the clopping coconut shells will be a brilliant touch, appreciated by all adults.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Randomday Birthday

It is Randomday... and my birthday.  I turned 47, but for most of the last 3 months I had the vague idea that I was already 47 (I'm a language person, after all, not math!) so it didn't seem to be a painful birthday.  I hope I can manage to forget my age again in 3 years.

Because I was born in Europe at a few minutes after midnight local time, my birthday technically begins on October 10, so we celebrated yesterday.

Steve's mom was hospitalized October 9 for testing after chest pains.  There was not evidence of a heart attack, so they released her yesterday.  Steve picked her up, filled her prescription, and brought her here for her first meal out of the hospital, which he proceeded to cook -- Pad Thai, my standing birthday request -- and it was delicious, and we ate in reasonably good time, and had the "signature prune cake" from Chuck's, which was also delicious, and then Steve took his mom home so she could rest.  Pretty eventful early birthday, but it went pretty well.  Kudos to Steve for managing all of that.

At school we had a team of accreditors visiting all the teachers in all the classes on the 9th and 10th, so it was an extra-stressful week.  My classes went reasonably well in 7th and 8th grade, but 6th grade was, shall we say, sub-optimal. But I think we passed, so that's all to the good.

This week Tertia's school has been having school spirit events leading up to homecoming... so she has been dressing in themes all week.

Today Peter had to take the SAT.  I got up to fry him a couple of eggs for breakfast, then went back to bed to read for awhile.  After breakfast (which Steve cooked again!) I did some language practice on Duolingo and then took Tertia (who had a birthday a few weeks ago) shopping for birthday girl stuff.

Then I came home and did some sewing... for the first time in months.  I worked on the rainbow string star, I now have all 8 strips of this 5-diamond sequence, the first of the 5 strip sets I need.  It was fun.  I should work on quilts more often.  And blog about them.
We went out for dinner at the Golden City Chinese restaurant, which was lovely.  It used to be my lifeline when I was pregnant with Quarta and Chinese was the only thing that I could think about eating.  Then it was home to watch Dr. Who with the girls (and fluff up Tertia's pillow with good dreams afterwards, because mummies are her biggest fear).  Now we have The Big Sleep going.
And I am blogging.  And thinking about having a snack on some leftover Pad Thai.  It's been a pretty good birthday.



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Yarn-Along (First in A Long Time)

It has been quite awhile since I posted a yarn-along post.  I haven't been able to clear as much time for knitting as I used to do.  It's quite sad, actually.  I have these dishcloths to show for the last several weeks of summer and the beginning of Fall.  If I was knitting at all it was on these.
 Have you ever had one of those experiences where it felt like people all around you were morphing into rhinoceroses?  Eugene Ionesco, my favorite Theatre of the Absurd playwright, wrote just such a play, and I am reading it now.  Rhinoceros.  It's symbolic of the rapid descent of European society into fascism before World War II, and makes a good counterpoint to Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, which I am also reading.  But there are certain parallels with teaching middle school Latin, I suppose, if you don't get too literal.  This is going to make me want to re-read The Chairs.
There are two new yarn stores in town!  The closest is just a hop skip and jump away, and that is where I bought this lovely skein of Madeline Tosh Merino Light in "Chickory."  (Sure about that spelling, are we?   Sorry, it's just that I think it should be "Chicory.")  It's a very moody melange of blues and grays and I am working on Azzu's Shawl with it.  My other knitting projects have had no attention for months, I am sad to say.  Since school started there has been a lot of falling into an exhausted but restless sleep at 8:30 p.m., waking up with insomnia at 3:00 or 4:00 and reading about the Night of Long Knives or the Anschluss, and then packing lunches and getting Tertia to brush her teeth before the bus comes.  And then it's off to school myself, where I dish out nouns and verbs and try to avoid being wounded by the "Grammar Nazi" label.  I mean really, some perspective:  if the subjunctive mood is the worst obstacle your kid ever has to face, that's better than ISIS or Ebola, right?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Randomday... with Grapes

I picked this bucket of grapes this morning and spent the rest of the day making grape pie filling.  Most of them were Concord grapes, with about a gallon of green seedless grapes that I'm going to try to turn into raisins.  I baked 3 quarts of the pie filling into 2 pies (this is the one for church tomorrow):
and there were still 4 quarts for the freezer for other pies later on.  But it pretty much took the day.  Anybody who wants the grapes that are still on the vines can come and get them, because I'm done.

Now Steve and I are watching Forrest Gump with Peter, who loves the soundtrack.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

New School, New Adventures

Tertia has been in High School now for a month, and last night I finally had a chance to meet her teachers.  Some of them, anyway.  Everytime when Steve or I introduce ourselves, we get "Oh, I LOVE Tertia!"  This is a great thing to hear, and I think it is genuine.  It makes it easier, putting her on a bus at 6:50 and sending her to the great unknown down the street.  Here's what we do know: she's supposed to be in an "intensive academic" special ed classroom, but it's really more "life skills" in emphasis, which would make me uncomfortable if that was the only place she went.  But I like her teacher a lot.  And she is the only girl in her class, which is a little weird, but apparently she's taking that and running with it.  I hear about her empathy, her love of drama, her ability to navigate her way around the school.
 She dressed up for her birthday.  It is really early when she has to get on her bus.  Some of the paras gave her presents and a chocolate cupcake... she was a little embarrassed to let me see the Disney princess presents, because she knows she's supposed to have outgrown them.  But I don't mind.  She is in a "learning support" reading/literacy class -- the teacher whispered in my ear "she probably works harder than any of the others!"  And she is in the concert choir, which is her favorite class:
I worry about her ability to blend in with the group and follow the music.  She is excited about her music and wants to do her best.  She also has an art class with the general population.  I have been so pleased with how she is getting herself up and even packing her own lunch some days.  Maybe we can keep this schedule up.  It has been a hard month, with catching up from travelling, and teaching being exhausting and demanding.  I even missed the Down syndrome Buddy Walk, something we've participated in for the last 3 years and loved.  Sometimes it felt like Tertia is having to take a back seat to other demands in my life, and I hate that... even though she doesn't ever complain.
 Birthday number 15 was celebrated with spaghetti and a chocolate cake, garnished with strawberries.  A deep breath before blowing out the candles.
Somehow 15 years ago I never foresaw High School.  I don't know why.  The beginning of the Down syndrome adventure was all about babies and medical tests and therapies, combined with a lot of worry about the future.  But somehow, I never knew the future would be so endearing.  She's going to be okay.  She's rocking High School.

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month.  We'll try to make it a good one for her.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Peter's Graduation from Basic Training

I love this picture -- the mother-soldier selfie!  It represents one of the few moments of pure joy in recent months; for Peter, a rare off-base leave after ten weeks of deprivation and harshness; for me, an interlude of one-on-one family time that seems to become rarer all the time.

As you know if you've been following my "What I did on my summer vacation" posts, the rest of our family had a lengthy road trip vacation, combined with seeing Daniel off to college in Pennsylvania.  Peter was at Fort Sill, OK doing basic training for most of the summer.  His first full day was the 4th of July (and he didn't get to take a holiday) after more than a week of whatever "processing" involves, which I really don't want to know about.  I was able to fly down to Oklahoma to see the Family Day and Graduation for Peter and his class of soldiers in training -- four platoons of fine young people who worked very hard to learn how to defend our country.  I was impressed.  And this brought the number of states I set foot on this summer to a grand total of 18.  If you count flyovers it would make more than half the states.
 At the Family Day ceremony they did a series of demonstrations of the skills that were drummed into them over the summer. I think they cleaned up the language a bit for us.  I noticed after I parked the rental car and started walking towards the stands that every few minutes there would be some distant thunder.  But the sky was blue and it was a hot day.  It finally dawned on me that... this is an artillery base.  That thunder wasn't thunder.
 Peter received his first promotion at that time... Private E-2, I believe.  After that ceremony I signed him out and took him to the hotel room where we took that selfie... then we hit the mall.  Lawton, OK is pretty much a company town for the Army.  Everywhere we went Peter was being congratulated and I was amazed at how appreciative everyone was.  The White Buffalo gave him a complementary lunch, for example.  We shopped for dress clothes for school... Peter will be having a more or less regular Senior year at Cedar Tree with one weekend a month where he has to report for National Guard training.  And Seniors at Cedar Tree get to wear "business casual" rather than school uniforms.  We saw "Guardians of the Galaxy," which was a great movie at baseline and Peter liked even more because it was the first entertainment of any kind he had had in so long.  And of course, the hero's named Peter.
 The next day I had to wait until 1:00 for the graduation ceremony, and since I'd already seen the mall, I decided to check out the amenities of the park near the auditorium where graduation would be.  There is a small lake, with lots of extremely un-shy geese.  It was very hot, and I decided this was not the kind of park where I could sit and knit in the shade.  There wasn't really any shade.
 The prairie dogs weren't out, and no one was playing disc golf.
 I couldn't shake the feeling that the geese were organizing.
It was a little bit like a Hitchcock movie.  But not very much, because they never attacked.
 There were memorials for the Korean and Vietnam wars.

 Some pretty prairie flowers.  I kept trying to get a picture of the dragonflies, but they moved too fast.
 I decided to go to the Museum of the Plains, guarded by this statue of a Bison Latifrons.
I need one of these signs for my house.
 The old schoolhouse was locked up, but I think they use it for occasional fiber demonstrations,
 I kind of want to read the Little House books again, after seeing so many of the sites on vacation and then spending time in Oklahoma.
 It's really hot there, even in the morning.
 There was this little squirrel hiding inside the wall of the main building.  I used to think squirrels were cute until one chewed a hole in our roof.  I still think they are interesting little animals, if a bit more destructive than I had previously realized.
 I really wanted to edit the spelling of vertebrae.  The Museum of the Great Plains had a lot of exhibits about the early pioneers and about the conflicts during the time Oklahoma was Indian territory.  I then went to the Comanche Museum and Cultural Center.  There were Comanche code talkers during both World Wars -- everyone hears about the Navajo code talkers, but I didn't know about the Comanche.  They have a great story in their own right.
 As we filed into the auditorium the young soldiers were sitting at attention and presumably forbidden to make eye contact.
 Each graduate stated his or her name and hometown before walking across the stage to shake hands with the officers.  After the ceremony they were bussed back to the base, where we had to drive to pick them up for leave time.
Having exhausted most of the action in Lawton, Peter was happy just to hang out in a comfortable hotel room, listening to his favorite music on Spotify, drinking coffee and surfing Facebook.  We had dinner at the Olive Garden and got him back to base before curfew.  In fact, he made it back to PDX before I did the next day.  Then on the following Monday, it was back to school for him and for me... perhaps the real war zone.