Thursday, November 13, 2008

Longwood weekend

I teach on a Tuesday Friday schedule, which means that normally, holidays don't affect my schedule. President's Day, Memorial Day, Patriot's Day--classes canceled on a Monday mean my week goes on as normal.

But this year, Veteran's Day fell on a Tuesday, which means that I had six days in a row with no classes. Since da honey is in Poland, I went down to NJ to hang with the parents. We took a trip, starting with a visit to my great aunt and uncle (she'll be 90 next month, he'll be 91 in January, they'll celebrate 70 years of marriage in May, and they're both totally together and even spry! I want to be them when I get old.) And then we went down to one of my favorite places: Longwood Gardens.

Where they have a new exhibit of very cool treehouses:
Beautiful chrysanthemum displays:
Purty glass gourds:
A single mum plant with 484 blooms (which is a Longwood record, although not a world record; they're using a Japanese technique called "thousand bloom," and sometimes they manage to get that many!):

The orchid room (my favorite permanent part of the conservatory):

And a new children's garden, filled with whimsical statues and water fountains:

We also hit several outlets, and I managed to get a shirt from Banana Republic, a polo for the hubby, a pair of socks, and a pair of pants, all for less than $20 total. I love shopping with my mom--she totally rocks the coupons.

There was knitting, as well--I finished a pair of socks for nephew the elder, finished the cowl, and started another pair of Fetchings. But no photos of them (and probably none of the socks, period, as I left them in NJ on the theory that he should wear them before he outgrows them, and at the rate he's growing I'm worried that will be soon) yet.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Comfort food

I swore I wasn't going to sit on the couch and watch election results as they came in.

I certainly wasn't going to do more than a quick check.


But then I turned on the t.v. and got hooked. (Although I'm still a little unclear on how the networks can predict a state based on, oh, three percent of districts reporting. Shouldn't they wait until at least half the votes have been counted?)

The anticipation was too much, so I (re) cast on for a cowl with the glamour bunny yarn I bought at Rhinebeck:

Comfort food.

(The details: July is for Quinn pattern, size 7 needles. I've already knit this once (I even wove the ends in), wore it for a little bit, and decided it was too big. The pattern is very clear on the size, but as I've never knit a cowl before, I wasn't entirely clear on what the numbers meant. So I frogged it and cast on again, starting with 90 stitches instead of 111. I've taken out the extra stitch that falls in place of the seam. I've also started the second patterned row two stitches early--the second pattern round straddles the first stitch. Since it's knit in the round, the jog was making the two YOs look uneven, and it was bugging me. Not enough to change it the first time through, but since I was starting over again anyway . . . .)

Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm sitting this round out.

November is NaNoSweMo (National Knit A Sweater Month). And NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). And NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), as well as InaDWriMo (Originally International Dissertation Writing Month, but it's grown to include all academic writing and has been International acaDemic Writing Month, and I can't find a nice link for it).

I've also seen versions for research, recording your own album, and a host of others.

If I were smart, I'd commit publicly to the sweater and academic writing versions--I'm far more productive when I feel vaguely accountable for what I'm working on. Posting progress on both a sweater and an article would motivate me to get more done.

But I'm thinking that November will be a slog, however, and I'm having my own, one-person version (characterized by the fact that I'm posting this on November 3, rather than November 1):

National Sitting-This-Round-Out Month, also known as NaSiOuMo.

I'd like to have National Sit-Around-in-Your-Pajamas-Eating-Chocolate Month, or perhaps National Sit-Around-in-Your-Pajamas-Drinking-Red-Wine Month, but I suspect that won't really be possible. So I'm going to keep busy. I'll go to work, and clean the bathroom, and answer student emails, but nothing extra. No attempts to knit entire sweaters, or to get articles ready for publication.

In another characteristic move, this weekend, in a desperate attempt to distract myself, I knit my glamour bunny yarn up into a lovely cowl.

I frogged it this morning, since it was too big. I'm going to cast on again with fewer stitches. But it pretty much sums up my "one-step-forward, one-step-back" progress of the last few weeks.

November is already proving--three days into it--to be a bit too much for me.

On the poor-little-me side:
  • I've been in grading jail for almost two weeks now, and while there's an end in sight, there's also another round of papers coming in.
  • Another round of papers means another two weeks in grading jail. Teaching three sections of the same class = early burnout.
  • It's my husband's birthday on Friday, and he's in Poland.
  • I'm exhausted from doing virtually nothing, mainly because an annoying knot in my shoulder (I've named it Don, after Don Knotts) is making it hard to get comfortable.
  • It's our wedding anniversary next week, and he'll still be in Poland.
  • I have an annoying head cold that won't go away.
  • Did I mention my husband's in Poland?
  • Student oral reports start tomorrow, and, despite giving them painfully detailed directions on what I want, the questions are still pouring in. Most of them--all of them, really--could be answered by simply reading the directions I've posted on the course site.
I feel all whiny (or, to use the considerably more charming British version, whingey--I do love the "g"), since lots of things are going well.

On the life-doesn't-suck-too-much side:
  • I'm teaching a major-author course this summer on Jane Austen. This means that I can spend my afternoon reading novels and consider the day productively spent.
  • I can also spend the day watching Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy (in both Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones's Diary), and consider the day productively spent.
  • I made pumpkin bread today.
  • I have lots of lovely yarn to knit with.
  • I've got Veteran's Day off, which means six days between classes, and I'm heading down to NJ to visit the nephews.
  • The election campaigning will be over tomorrow. (This is good because it's getting a little nasty. And if I see one more attack ad for either Jean Shaheen or John Sununu, I will move to New Hampshire just so I can vote against both of them.)
  • I go to Poland to see the husband in less than three weeks.
I really can't wait to go to Poland. Actually, I just can't wait to see the husband. But the trip coincides with the next major round of grading, and I'll either have to spend half my time grading, or stay up for three days when I get home in order to get it done.

I will make some tentative, not-really-commitment kinds of statements, to see if that helps motivate me. For the month of November: I want to finish my Hey, Teach! sweater, as well as some socks for nephew-the-elder. And start the husband sweater. And read for my Austen course (which really does make me do a little dance for joy when I think about it.) And knit the cowl, for the second time (the yarn was so yummy to knit with, it's not exactly a hardship).

And we'll see how the month goes.