Sunday, January 25, 2009

DisKnit: Foot Care, Retrograde, Slowness

KBrow worries that she dominates the blog. I worry that I slack. But the notion that here in cold DC and there in rainy Hawaii, the two of us both bought foot spas on the same day was just too much synchronicity for me to ignore. I ordered mine from Brookstone since I am far too lazy to venture off the couch these days. I also ordered a green suede bag since I lately have been convinced that my life would be better if I had a new purse and when I saw a green one, I knew it had to be mine.

Mercury is in retrograde now and I am inclined to use it as an excuse for everything even when wiser souls tell me that it is only responsible for certain things. I know my wireless internet is acting crazy, so I know it is responsible for that.

Still I have been knitting on the second second in this glorious green and blue from Woolarina:

The Inauguration was quite an experience, my good friend J from Sacramento came. She and her dog Ana is still in the Curtis Park 'hood, in contrast to Ella and Curtis. We had many experiences, including going to a very cool concert called Songs for the President, that in a another moment of synchronicity was mainly sung by folks from Sacramento. I can't tell you all to rush off and buy the three CD set, Of Great and Mortal Men, but it is compelling project. A different song for each president, not always about what you expect. The concert included marvelous drawings, photographs, and films.

The next day, J and I strolled to the mall and caught the We are One concert on the Jumbotrons by the WWII memorial. No major hassles, lots of fun with the people in the crowd gathered near the Washington Monument. At times the urge to record with cameras was a bit overwhelming, but it was also irresistible. Still here is my picture of the crowd all taking pictures as then President-elect Obama spoke:

We were happy to be part of it all. For various reasons, J had to head back to Sacramento before the swearing in, and my plans to watch it at a cafe fell through, so I watched it on the internet at home. By the end of the long weekend, I was inauguration weary, but here we are before that took over:

Saturday, January 24, 2009

k-brow: bad traffic, slow progress

After a frantic morning of trying to get things done, and being thwarted by bad Chinese New Year traffic and my own tendancy to argue with people over silly things, I am home again. Intending to clean out my closet, but perhaps more realistically, to take the dogs out, after a short nap and then another shot at stimulating the economy...

I have a pair of Dansko clogs that are about 10 years old. I noticed that the soles were splitting in multiple places the other week, but figured they'd last a few months longer and so didn't pay much attention. Well, yesterday, at work, as I was teaching math, one of my students pointed out that there was "dirt all over the floor" and when I looked down to check it out, discovered that the sole of the left clog was disintegrating as I walked around. Damn...I'm trying to replace them, and have one store left to try, according to all reports, otherwise, it's off to Zappo's. I wore those clogs every day to teach in.

Also, on the shopping agenda, and in the more frivolous category, a foot spa bath. I got a Macy's gift certificate from a student, and am ready to treat my feet to a bit of lovin'. You know, after having a shoe disintegrate...

Nuuanu remains cloudy, in spite of gorgeous clear sunlight elsewhere on the island. I have been indulging in carbofeeding today, with pancakes for breakfast, and part of a gyro sandwich for lunch. What can I say? The attempts to run errands and un-success at finding shoes triggered a need for Brent's coconut-macadamia pancakes. Tomorrow will be better.

Our funny little orange tree is having a good fruiting year, this year. Last year, it gave one orange, this year, about a dozen. I gave this orange another few days to ripen, and when i went out to pick it, I found that one of our ring-neck doves had beaten me to it, and had pecked into the fruit and removed much of it. Those doves are big and fat, and I like to convince myself that it's they, and not the rats, who like to eat our citrus.

Cricket, the dove hunter, is not doing his job.

I am a mere 7 rows from finishing Icarus! My hands and wrists are so sore that I can only knit a row or two a day, now, but I'm not feeling too bad about the progress, anymore. I'm going over to Joy's to work on it tomorrow, and hopefully will get some done. I tried to knit at Aloha Knitters on Thursday, but it was too loud and I kept making the same mistakes over and over again. After this? Maybe a few smaller, more easily completed projects on bigger needles, with fatter yarn, before I face lace again. Though I do have a fascination with lace, I tell you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

k-brow: the little martini glass that could

Far-flung inaugural joy. That's the mood today. Just so happy, feeling like some big heavy thing in my heart is breaking loose; the years of disillusionment and disconnect from the agenda in the White House finally oozing away.

"We are the ones we've been waiting for."

So it begins. I am happy. My favorite image of the inauguration ceremonies was that of 10-year-old Malia Obama, taking pictures. I love the budding documentarian in the making. Who knows what blogs Malia will keep in a lifetime of capturing the tiny moments in her life? Even those moments that are pretty huge...

I've been up and down this week. Missing my dad, kind of reeling at times from the realization, anew, that he no longer walks in this world, this side of the veil. I'm so grateful for the distraction that working provides, these days. The 5th graders are a very real, demanding presence, thoroughly on this side of the veil.

Icarus...I pick it up, I put it down, a row later. I'm rapidly losing the idea of deadlines and commitments with this silly shawl. I am about halfway through the final skein of yarn I have, and am seriously wondering if I'll have enough yarn to finish it up. I have about 10 rows left (long-ass rows) and just don't know. I'm prowling my stash and have found a back up skein of some forest green laceweight that might make a pretty ending for it, should the unthinkable happen, and I do run out of yarn. No pics of my efforts, it all just looks the same right now. Instead, I have a pic of some yarn that Miss Joy gifted me with, last week. I'd given her a dog crate for her latest pack member. A Cricket hand-me-down, as it were, and this gorgeous skein of Shaefer Anne knocks me out; it's been a recent obsession, yarnwise, and I love these colors:
Earthy, with a bit of intense sky thrown in. These colors remind me of Scotland, and our trip there in the fall of 2003. Dark forests, browning fields and hillsides and cold blue skies. I feel more lace knitting coming on, or perhaps a pair of kneesocks? If I ever finish Icarus, but of course, I'll finish Icarus. Turning off that "it's impossible" thinking is just not my thing right now.

I have a sore throat. Which seems to be something I did not consider as I eagerly accepted this Perfect Manhattan that P made this evening, for no real reason at all.

It didn't cure the sore throat, but it did bring back fond memories of DisKnit, who introduced me to this lovely drink, so many years ago back in Sacramento. It is a tiny little drink, in my tiny little old martini glass, scored in a thrift store in San Francisco, back in 1992. I love the glass. There was just the one, sitting on a dusty shelf, at St. Vincent de Paul, in the Mission. It has outlived (out lasted, outplayed) quite a number of more expensive glasses that have come and gone.

One of my New Year's resolutions, though I don't like that term and am not good at keeping them, was to use my planner more conscientiously. I'm happy to report that it's going well, that I'm getting things done slowly but steadily. When I write something down in the planner, I'm more likely to do it. The other resolutions of more exercise, losing a ton of weight, well, they're kind of put in the category of "later" or "on the back burner." La Vida Loca(rb) still continues, and weight is trickling off. That would change with more exercise, but see "later" and "on the back burner." Writing things like "go to the gym" down doesn't really work so well. Still, I'm loving the planner. I think the other things will come.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

k-brow: somber but really all that sad

Headache brought me home drowsy and out-of-sorts. Two doses of Excedrin over 3 hours and I'm better now, and just about ready to pick up Icarus for our daily date.

P just called and is bringing me takeout from the Halekulani, where he is off amusing visiting co-workers. I was supposed to go join them for drinks, and am a little sad about missing sunset over a mai-tai, but it's nice to have the quiet time with the dogs and knitting as well.

I found out today that in spite of the fact that I'm a tenured teacher in the district (at last!) that my head is on the chopping block. We have to cut a position from our school for budgetary reasons. And people holding the positions that we could afford to cut are all teachers with more standing in the district than me. So anyone cut out could apply for my position and bounce me out of it.


Now, in my favor are the fact that no one at my school really seems to want to teach 5th grade, and I've been doing it this year with relative cheer and success. I could see where it could be a ghastly job, given the right (wrong) mix of parents/kids/teacher chemistry. I've been lucky, and the job's been fairly enjoyable. So I'm hopeful that I don't get bumped out. I mean, I want to be the one who chooses to leave, if I leave this job.

And y'know, honestly...I was going to look at postings and openings in other schools anyway. I don't LOVE my school; often I wonder if there's not a better fit for me out there, and I'm always looking to reduce my commute. So I'm throwing this one up to the Universe and trusting in the Right Thing to happen.

And I'm gonna update my resume.

It's been awhile since I've updated on Cricket. He did really well with the dogsitter while we were gone in December. Both dogs did, and I know it was probably harder on Crick, because of the whole separation anxiety and suspiciousness of strangers thing. Dogsitter says she can see a difference in his behavior over the past year, and that he's far better and less anxious than he used to be. I have stopped taking training classes with him, and have concentrated on keeping his threshhold for stress and excitement low. His dog aggression is unimproved, and I think I've faced up to the reality that this is Who He Is, and that he'll never be the social butterfly, the party dog, the agility dog that would follow Ella. I'm okay with that now. It took a long time and a lot of tears to get here. I think I kinda had to divorce myself from the dog training community, in regards to him, to "get it." I love him, and have learned so much from raising him. I kinda see now that Ella is the dog who brought me out into the world, and taught me all about participation, competition and training in established patterns, and that now, Cricket is the dog who is holding up a mirror and asking me to take a long look and listen to my own gut and heart and instinct about what is right for him. I can manage his aggression, control his environment, and enjoy his companionship, as he is a stellar dog to live with, as long as we don't meet up with strange dogs on the street or at the beach.

I believe, as does his breeder, with whom I've had many very frank conversations about Nature, Nurture and Why He Is How He Is, that he is in the right home, and that we're doing right by him. The perfect storm of conditions to make a dog go wrong were in place before we really recognized them, and to use a Battlestar Galactica expression, Cricket's "line has been boxed," ie: other dogs have been bred from that line of dogs (too many temperament problems) and all resulting progeny have been spayed or neutered.

Time for some chamomile tea and giving Icarus some love.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

k-brow: green things and exhaustion

The constant earworm of Brian Eno's "Everything Merges With the Night" is rattling around in my head tonight. I just had to go and listen to some Eno at work today, and now I'm paying the price. There are far worse fates than an afternoon spent listening to
"Another Green World" and "Before and After Science", though. I have the new Eno waiting in the wings, but am waiting for an opportune moment to gift it to P, who pretends not to like ambient music, but then I catch him listening to it...

I am now solidly back at work, which is not making me happy. Oh, my students do please me; I was overjoyed to see the galloping Portuguese twins and their beautiful-but-academically challenged sidekick, who bears such a resemblance to them as to make them all look like triplets, as they came in to visit me on their next-to-last day of winter break. They gushed and oohed over the new seating arrangement, and admired the 2 new laptops that the Techie had delivered this morning. These 3 girls are usually helpful, and often drop in after school to close windows, wipe down counters and file things for me.

No. It's the administrative stuff that's dragging me down. The endless staff meeting, slated for tomorrow, the stack of report cards that wait to be done, and the new fresh hell of writing letters of recommendation for private schools, because 6th grade is one of the points of entry for private school in Hawaii. None of this stuff is very daunting, but all of it together is not what I want to be doing.

What I want to be doing is working on Icarus, which is going well enough, if a bit slowly. I'm now into the 4th and final lace chart, but the 400+ stitch rows make for slow going. I'm only getting 1 or 2 rows done a day, which is okay by me, at this point. It IS pretty, though this doesn't reflect the color very accurately; I was playing with iPhoto's retouching features and may have warmed it up a wee bit.

More on the green front; dinner was roasted broccoli, canned black beans and sauteed Opah, or moonfish. Very nice, especially the broccoli, which is cut up, tossed with minced garlic in olive oil and pan roasted at 425 for 20 minutes, resulting in carmelly fabulousness. A dash of sea salt, a squeeze of lemon and it's good to go. I'm doing fairly well on La Vida Lo-ca(rb) though I did give myself a total cheat day, and went out for dim sum with Opal, her mom, Joy and Barb on Saturday. We knitted awhile at Starbucks, and then went on to eat many, many dumplings. Yum. I'm back on the wagon, though I've added red wine and chocolate back, just like I said I'd do. I don't consume much of either, but it's the key to my not feeling too deprived.

I am off to bed, in hopes of combatting this awful sucking exhaustion that I know is only partly a physical thing.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

k-brow: tired and uninspired

I have been putting off going back to the classroom to get ready for the new semester. Today I finally dragged myself there. All my plans for what I'd teach have kinda fallen out of my head. Thank the goddess for the District Standards that provide a little roadmap! I feel so uninspired for my work right now. It didn't help that our head custodian tried to give me a good scolding as I came in, about how dirty my carpets were. I wasn't bothered by it (well, except on principle, anyway) because I just can't give a damn about the mud on the carpets, especially over break when they're supposed to be shampooing them anyway. Feh! It's mud, they're kids, it rains, get over it, big guy! This particular custodian has always been on the crusty side to me, and I kinda just let his abrasiveness roll off my back.

Tomorrow will be better. I'll go in earlier, I made myself a to-do list, and changed classroom seating. I'll take some cd's and Ella will come with me, and keep me from taking myself too seriously. Heaven forbid that she should track in any mud...

I stopped by Aloha Yarns in Kaneohe, en route to work. Okay, it's not really en route, but Miss Acornbud was successful in luring me out. I took my spindle and some old colonial top and did a bit of spinning. That colonial is pretty and smooth and even though I've hardly spun at all since I blew my hands out in September, with the Devil's Own yarn, I did okay. I love that LYS. Since I've already been out today in the knitting world, I'm gonna take the night off and not go to Knit Club at Mocha Java, tonight. My jet lag, which I pronounced "not a factor" 2 days ago (yeah, right) is kicking my ass. I'm currently on the bed with both dogs, who seem to have not a lot of firepower either, and am trying to visualize getting up and making some kind of dietetically correct dinner.

Lunch was Korean food from the Tasty Corner, in Kaneohe. I didn't know that Korean cuisine lent itself so well to low-carb eating, but an order of teri chicken, hold the rice please (the old guy behind the counter really wasn't thrilled about my no rice policy) and 4 vegie selections: beansprouts, choi sum, long beans and a big pile of daikon and cabbage kimchee made for a satisfying lunch, with leftovers for tomorrow. So ono, and I'll be going back there again.

I have a goal of staying up til 9pm tonight. Dinner will be chili, no rice, and then I'll sort through some mail and recycling and maybe knit a bit on Icarus. I've taken a 2 day break from him, and am now ready to finish him up, I think...dare I set a due date??

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

k-brow: dashing

I took a couple o' days to knit the wonderful Dashing mitts from Knitty. I'm reasonably sure I'm the last person in the blogosphere to make these, but oh, what a sweet, sweet knit they served up, especially in sunset-colored Malabrigo! Started on the flight from Honolulu to Virginia, and finished a day or so later. Comfort for a cold climate, and relentlessly cheerful through trying times. Love the Dashings!

I don't love how fragile Malabrigo is. It's already starting to pill a little. Okay, I admit that I DID wear these nearly nonstop, indoors and out, through my 19 days in the Olde Country, but I do expect more from my mitts... still, I look at that color, and feel that Malabrigo caress, and all is forgiven.

P had a plan to put himself (and therefore, me) on the South Beach Diet, or a bastardized version, thereof, upon his return to the islands. His illness has required a steady intake of orange juice and ramen, however, so he's bowed out. Not me. I had psyched my own self up to eschew everything carb, upon my own return, though, so I just started it up yesterday. Being conscious of the impending diet, I made sure to deny myself no pleasures on the mainland, and so this isn't too painful. I try to keep to the spirit of the diet, if not the letter, just eating lean protein, lots of veggies. I cut out sugar, rice, pasta and bread, but keep berries (some people don't eat fruits on the restrictive Phase I of this diet) and sweet potatoes and kabocha and such. I also eat beans and nuts pretty freely. So mostly it's kissing my beloved sugar and white flour pastrys and pastas goodbye, at least temporarily, til the clothes fit again.

I always find a couple of weeks on this diet "resets" my tastebuds again, so that everything tastes good. Cutting out sugar is a good thing, for me. I'd been having LOTS of headaches, lately, and I know that's connected to sugar intake, in my body. I've done okay; 2 days into it. Eggs for breakfast, salads w/ walnuts and feta for lunches, and I grilled some steak last night that's also gonna be dinner tonight, along with a big pile of asparagus. Yum. I find this way of eating doesn't leave me too hungry, and I don't "crash" on it. I'll phase in some more carbohydrates in a week or so; oatmeal, whole wheat bread and pasta, but it'll be a gradual thing.

I'm missing the red wine, though, not to mention the martini. Neither of those will be long away, either, I can assure you.

I think I just needed to re-set things here in the new year.

Ella is getting some fiber in her diet. Both my dogs are big grass eaters, and it doesn't seem to correlate with stomach upsets, as it does with some dogs. I think they just like the taste of green.

5 things that struck me today, as I drove around the eastern part of Oahu trying to rev up the CRV's dead battery:

- how blue and clear the ocean is between Waimanalo and Makapuu. Jeez! It's incredible!! Lucky live Hawai'i all over again.

- how many potholes there are in the roads here.

- how very friendly people are here. I don't think I come from an unfriendly place, but I'm always struck, after a time away, how very NICE grocery checkers, maintenance folk and people you meet on the street are.

- Nuuanu is the rainiest place I've ever lived. It truly did me a world of good to drive out of the clouds. I'm feeling much more aloha toward the world in general now.

- my car has not been immune to the pervasive mud, mold and filth that seem to have invaded the house. Ugh. Must clean it up, if I'm to face my work commute again.

Off to work some of crazy Cricket's energy off, as we have a brief period of sunshine here.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

k-brow: there's hope

There is really too much to say for one entry, but I'm trying hard to come back... I've been in the Olde Country, Rockbridge County, Virginia, for the past three weeks. My dad died on December 17. He'd been sick, diagnosed with myleodysplasia for about 2 years, and had been increasingly bedridden for much of the fall. It was not unexpected. But it was too soon. Hard to talk about it much, still. I am generally pragmatic about life and death; I hold dear the pagan tenets of Life, Death, Rebirth. But those things don't ease the loss of my funny, hard-nosed dad, who put his family first in all situations, and whose love of nature, droll humor, and practicality continue to inspire me. I am so sad, for myself, and my family. I know we will get through this. It's just that the way seems so long and hard right now.

I won't write too much about it here. There are public stories and private ones, from the past month, and I'm still sorting out what's what. I so appreciated the time I had with family, my mom, sis and P, as well as with my aunts and cousins and old friends and acquaintances from the county. I don't like the Christmas season much in the best of times, and these certainly weren't. Somehow we made it through, and I rather enjoyed, in a completely perverse way, the fact that there wasn't a big deal made of the damn holidays. My dad never liked this time of year much, either, as I recall. Our family always chose this time of year to go to Key West, not to celebrate Christmas, but rather, to avoid it, with the beach, penny-ante poker and the supreme distraction of a road trip.

So, in the spirit of making the best of a bad situation, I will catalogue the good things of the past month:

1. Driving a Prius that I had to rent, due to a cancelled flight from Dulles to Roanoke. Uh, thanks, United. But the Prius was just as sweet as could be, once I figured out how to start it.

2. The mercurial Virginia weather, which would gift us with high-60's one day, and windy-20's the next. But mostly days in the 50's and sunny. You can't complain about that, especially if you're coming from Hawaii.

3. Long walks with P. On the Chessie Trail, and in the woods and fields surrounding my parents' house. Through grey and brown beech-and-cedar stands, and old abandoned cemeteries. By the Maury river, and along cliffs of shale and limestone, coated with melting ice.

4. Funeral food. There. I said it. Pecan pie, incredible homemade soup, fried chicken, biscuits, fudge, little swedish meatballs... we were well fed by the good cooks of my homeland.

5. P's "Christmas miracle" of the discovery of one forgotten piece of the aformentioned pecan pie. My husband is a funny person.

6. New Year's Eve, complete with "Pride and Prejudice" (because really, what extended shut-in period would be complete without a little Jane Austen)and the momcat also made these killer Reuben sandwiches that night. We watched the ball drop, my mom, sis and I, and hoped for better times in 2009.

7. Driving my dad's pickup truck all over SW VA. Clifton Forge, Peaks of Otter, the Blueridge Parkway, as well as along his favorite highways and byways in Rockbridge County. Seeing deer and wild turkeys along the way. Crying hard, and laughing some, too. I do my best crying, it seems, behind the wheel. I should have known that, by my commutes here, but I always thought it was work-related and Hawaii-situational. It is not.

8. My sis and I, finally having had enough of shut-in, went out on New Year's Day to see "Twilight." Thoroughly enjoyable, in a teen-vampire-lovin' sort of way. I loved the soundtrack, and will be downloading it shortly.

9. Knitting Icarus. Knitting Icarus some more. And yet more knitting on Icarus. I'm done, at last with the first 3 charts. One more endless chart of lace to go, and then the bind-off of 500-and-something stitches. Yeesh. I don't know if I will ever finish this shawl. It's been such a good companion to me these past few weeks. I also knit Dashing mitts, from the fetishized stash of Malabrigo. Yum. Easily finished and they came in handy for the cooler days.

10. Re-potted my mom's 79-year-old christmas cactus. It had been languishing away in a cracked pot for awhile in the dining room. It had been given to my great-aunt Fannie Sue, back when she was pregnant with my dad's cousin Bob. Susie gave it to ma years ago. Or maybe to my grandmother on my dad's side. It lived with me for 5 years in Arlington, spending each school year in my classroom window, and rewarding me with blooms every February. I thought it deserved a new lease on life in 2009.

I came home to Hawaii last night, greeted the ecstatic dogs, showered and collapsed next to the feverish P, who's caught some kind of travel related malady. He came home last week, and has some sore throat thing with a 102 fever. Yikes. I woke up this morning to the sound of Board of Water Supply's jackhammer up on our street. I went out to check it out and found our purple orchid getting ready to bloom.

There's always something to be hopeful about.

I will be around and about over the next few days. Cleaning my mud, mold, and mice-ridden house. Grooming the dogs, who are similarly muddy and moldy, and utterly overjoyed to have their pack reassembled.