Saturday, December 31, 2005


I have a long-standing tradition of doing fairly nothing for New Year's Eve. In middle school and high school I baby-sat most of the time. The evening of December 31, 1999, my brother and I stayed up to see if the world would blow up, but all that happened at 12 o' clock was the heat went on in the house. The first couple years in Pittsburgh I went to parties hosted by my friend Tim. Last year I have no recollection of what I did, so it probably wasn't exciting. This year...well, this year I'm blogging BUT I'm also holding up a "tradition" in cooking - Mom and I baked Dutch foods for dinner and dessert.

First it was genuine, original pig-in-the-blankets (in Dutch they're called saucijzenbroodjes), which are probably not terrifically healthful but are SOOOOO good! No hot dogs are harmed in the making of these little flaky treats. You form ground pork into "pigs," wrap it in the world's best dough, and pop them in the oven. Soon the whole house smells warm and wonderful and you can't wait to eat them. Then you freeze the leftovers and take a couple out to microwave for breakfast when you want a treat. That last part isn't very authentically Dutch, but the pigs themselves are. I love them. Here's a whole sty's worth:
this little piggy went in my tummy!

And of course there's banket (pronounced bon-KET, not like blanket without the l), which is a sweet almond-filled pastry. It crumbles like nobody's business, and whenever my mom makes it it blows up in the oven (almond paste oozes everywhere), but it smells and tastes delicious! It's a pain to make, so usually we buy it from the grocery store - and yes, the marvelous Grand Rapids area grocers do stock banket at Christmas time. Yuuuuum!!!!
you can see where we scraped off the oozing insides!

With that, happy new year to all!

the wedding day

Oh! What a day!!

The day began with getting hair done with the other bridesmaids and women of the wedding...then it was over to the church to relax and prepare...then pictures...then THE WEDDING!!!!!...then the limo ride...then the reception. Loooooong day! Fun day! Emotional day!

I've often wondered why people cry at weddings. It's not sad, really. You could perhaps say that it's sad that the bride is "leaving" her family, but...she's not (at least not in most American weddings). Oftentimes the people getting married already live together, so it's not like it's sad that the gal is moving out of the house to join the groom's household. So there's nothing to cry about out of sadness that I can think of save that various deceased loved ones are not present. Yet people cry - I cry!! Why do I cry??

For example, today - I was full of delight and happiness, yet as I lined up in the back of the church to enter the sanctuary, all I could do was look at Amber, touch her arm and try to smile while fighting back tears. WHY??!?!?! I've decided that it's due to a rush of emotion. So much joy, so much excitement, so much that you want to say but don't have time or words to express... It comes out in a bawl full of tears.

I do wish that tears were more like hugs. With hugs, they can mean and say a lot, but you can at least still speak intelligible sentences. With tears, the meaning gets confused because tears can mean so many things (pain, woe, extreme amusement, etc.)...and you can't babble out anything to explain them.

Oh Amber and Dave, my tears for you are happy, excited, awed, wondering, reminiscent, and forward-dreaming tears. They form because I want the best for you both, and I am delighted by your love and commitment to one another, and I know how unpredictable life is (and that's a little scary when you are living it in marriage with someone else as you it's just difficult to accept because it means that change is inevitable), and I love the memories I have and what you have meant in my life.

And, my favorite Amber, I love you, too, and tears form because I fear that you or I will sometime forget that and the beautiful thing we have might be lost in the sands of time.

Tears do not become me, and tears are rare from me. So please, accept my tears as the greatest compliment and strongest expression of my love and dedication to you and your marriage.
dave, amber, and ruth

Thursday, December 29, 2005

ode to amber

Amber, my best friend from high school and college, is getting married TOMORROW. Wow. That's amazing. Getting married is one of those things you dream about together as best friends in high school. It's very unreal to see it suddenly unfolding as reality in the life of a beloved friend with whom I haven't kept in great contact over the past several years but who still graciously has given me the honor of participating in her wedding as a bridesmaid. I am greatly moved to hold up my end of the friendship bargain better in the future.

As mentioned before, Tuesday was a road rally/bachelorette bowling party for Amber and her husband-to-be, Dave. Here's a picture of a bunch of us gals - some are old friends, some are new, and that's really awesome!

left to right, that's sarah, me, tana up top, anna down low, adrian, and amber hiding

Today was the rehearsal, a dinner afterwards, and decorating of the reception hall. I got to know Dave a little more - I hadn't really met him before! I also had a great time shopping for some last-minute things with Amber's friend from Washington state, Tana, who (in my opinion) AMAZINGLY flew all the way here to Michigan to lend her skilled hand at decorating and thinking of details that might have been overlooked. There's not much that could be overlooked - Amber and her family have orchestrated nearly every minutiae, including something I'm extremely grateful for - getting us hair appointments and PAYING for them. Amber and Dave also have given out wonderful hand-created gifts for family, friends, and other guests - they have gone above and beyond what I think would ever be expected of them. (Kind of makes me worried that I'm going to be a horrifically rude bride if/when that ever occurs - I would not think about stuff like self-made wine or hand-mixed hot chocolate...)

A few words about what I should have learned a long time ago from Amber but what hasn't really struck me until this past week:
  • We here in Grand Rapids are a Dutch-rooted community, for the most part. It's sort of a running joke that everyone is Dutch and grew up in the Reformed Church of America. This is totally not true about Amber, BUT the point is that part of being Dutch is being cheap, or as we like to call it "resourceful" or "frugal" or "wise." I think I am becoming very disillusioned by society or something - I'm leaning closer and closer to the "This is bad quality, even if it's cheaper; I'm not buying it" end of the spectrum. Of course, I still do most of my shopping at thrift stores, but I find myself wanting brand names and wanting high-quality materials. Not necessarily wrong, I know, but I feel extremely selfish and...just rotten about myself when I realize I'm coming to EXPECT this when my family and friends (like Amber!) are still out there looking for - and finding - great deals and not caring if all the "cool people" will approve of that item. I'm still so stuck in the high school mentality of for some reason needing to live up to the expectations of the elite social circles. Amber is so beyond this that I'm a total embarrassment in comparison!
  • I take things too seriously sometimes. For instance, take school - college/university. To me, it was all about studying. Studying, doing well in classes, taking jobs that would help me get a position in my next stage of life, being involved in activities that would benefit me in the long run and look good on a resume or grad school application. I'm sure I wasn't COMPLETELY boring, but I didn't do things like go out to bars or parties or any other social drinking venue. I don't recall doing a lot of things for fun with other people (well...the planetarium WAS fun - seriously - but you can only watch the star show so many times before you know it by heart. Just kidding - I only went once, but it WAS a blast). Amber has fun. Amber had fun. Amber knows how to have fun.
  • Amber also has confidence. I suppose I have always known this, but I really noticed it the past several days. She is organized (despite how our dorm room always, she can manage others well, she is even-keeled. She has ideas and does things about them and doesn't worry what others think or say or criticize. As before, I'm still so high-schooly and wonder how others will judge my actions or if they will hate the way I'm leading them or what would happen if people see I'm doing a crummy job of making decisions or living out life. Perhaps this is because I myself am so judgmental. I'm sure there's a high degree of correlation.
So, Amber, here's to you and to your married life. I know I haven't been the best of friends to you all the time, and you've been a marvelous lady to me even when I throw temper tantrums and act like a know-it-all and won't admit when I'm wrong. For some reason you still like me, and that is quite astounding to me. Let's keep being friends, and let's be real with each other, and let's go together on this tough road called marriage that I know everyone needs support in. I'm there for you, my dearest dear. Just remind me of this blog, and I'll snap back to my senses and act like the friend I should be. I love you, Amber!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

what santa brought

Hello. Um...yeah, I totally haven't written in a while. Sorry!!!! Quick synopsis and an update on the knitting:

On Friday, drove from Pittsburgh to Grand Rapids in about 7 hours with two fuel/restroom breaks. Then visited grandparents and relatives for dinner with family. Managed to get all my Christmas shopping done, using the "stores" of some other family members. :-)

Saturday I wrapped all those presents and went to the Christmas Eve service at church, delivered boxes of doughnuts to people who had to work on the holiday (a yearly tradition!), and went with the family to see the live nativity scene (another yearly tradtion, which deserves more recognition...but not right now). Then we went and drank hot chocolate and ate candy canes and looked at Christmas lights (and even saw a guy propose in lights).

Sunday it was CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!! When I woke up, my sister, Bethany, was just starting to make breakfast, a surprise/treat for all of us. I helped her. Yuuuuum! After breakfast, we opened stockings and then started on some presents. Presents were suspended while Mom and Dad went to church to serve in the nursery. No, we kids didn't peek at the remaining gifts - we "played" with the first round of them (or took a nap, depending on our individual dispositions...). I spent the time looking through an awesome knitting calendar Bethany gave me. Not only does it have a pattern for nearly every day of the year, it also has a groovy magnetically activated stand. (This is funny to a select few - sorry everyone else.) When the rents returned, the rest of the presents were opened, and I camera!!!! Yay!!!! Lucky readers of my blog, you will now be showered with digitial pictures!!! (Assuming I have enough battery power.)

For example, here is a picture of my pancake-turning sister.

And here's one of my brother and the Christmas tree.

I'm still awful at taking pictures, as evidenced by this one of my family getting settled at the Christmas dinner table...

Other super gifts were the Harry Potter DVDs and a ball winder and yarn swift and good books to read or to have sit astutely on my bookshelf and an Ohio State shirt so I can show off my brother's school and further frustrate the University of Michigan fans. Really, all of my gifts were wonderful, and they will be much used and appreciated. Despite its kind of last-minute-ness, I was happy with my gift selections for my family members, even if Dad's favorite presents from me are probably the 50 cent book on baseball from the library bookstore and the 2 dollar sweater from the Salvation Army. Money isn't everything.

And...Monday night I stayed up until 3a.m. to create the road rally for my friends as part of Amber's "bachelorette party," which was held on Tuesday afternoon and commenced at a bowling alley for a fun night of bowling. And WOW was the alley packed! Who knew that bowling was so popular!!

So today is Wednesday, and the day was full of exchanging gifts and running shopping errands and getting my nails done (another new and interesting experience that deserves a little bit of comment but won't get any at this late hour - oh, except to say that DRAT I just chipped a nail while typing...grrrr...) and eating out with my family.

Will. Write. More. Soon! BUT I still need to finish that poncho by Friday!!!!! EEEEEEKKKK!!!!!! We're at about 76% done right now, and I think I can make it, but it's going to be a busy two days between then and now, and this is going to take some major work at finding time to knit. ...I'm up for the challenge!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

guess what...!

Hooray!!! Most of the holiday knitting is OVER!!!

Check it out over on the knitalong site.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Deadline - fast - approaching!! Eeeek!

And of course I'm getting sick.

Just a cold, but there's that stuffiness and that exhaustion and that sore throat...just makes one feel pretty ucky.

And...somehow magically tonight I shall finish knitting two and a half "mug rugs" (coasters - originaly the intent was to be creative, but I settled on a boring garter-stitch bias square deal...two colors, though!), sewing together two potholders, weaving in ends of a scarf, finishing another scarf (in brioche stitch - I will have to marvel about this stitch at a later date when I can give it some more time!), and then wrapping sixteen gifts, ten of them knitted. ...I hope I can stay awake for this...

Friday, December 16, 2005

product review: after-party

I don't care much at all about looks. I don't attempt to look great on most occasions. My normal hair-styling routine in the morning is to take a shower (if I am motivated enough to even do that - most days I am) and then let my hair dry. However, if I don't put anything in my curly hair, it's exceptionally frizzy. But I don't like gel an all that stuff that goops up the hair. I hate it when I go to hockey practice or for a run and I can feel the hair product oozing down my face in beads of sweat. That's awful. Plus some gels make my hair all...stiff, you know?

Several years ago I tried a daring experiment. I'm not quite sure where I came up with this, but I wondered what would happen if I put lotion in my hair. Frizzy hair is dry hair, and dry skin needs lotion, so maybe dry hair would do well to have lotion, too? Without telling my stylist friends, I began working lotion through my hair after towel drying following a shower. I don't like blow drying, so I'd just let the hair air dry and...that was it. (Very simple, eh?) The lotion works great. Certain brands and types are much better than others (body lotion seems to be nicer in most cases than hand lotion, for example), but there's no ucky residue and it's really cheap. My hair is probably still pretty dry, but that's likely more of a shampoo/conditioner issue, which I'm open to receiving suggestions about. It doesn't frizz, though.

And then one day this summer, while on the Jacksonville trip, I commented about this to a new stylist pal. She agreed that goop in the hair was a pain, and she pulled out a bottle of Bed Head After-Party made by Tigi. She said, "This is light, and it's a lot like lotion. Kinda expensive, but you only need a little." I tried it then and there and...liked it.

Liked it so much that cheapo me actually went out and bought some. It's about $18 per bottle, but I've had my bottle since July and I've only just now run out - even with my long hair, I don't need a lot, just one squirt. It's so effective, and people have commented on how good it smells (they think it's my shampoo, but it's actually the After-Party) - a very subtle scent, and not "hair-producty." The makers tell you to use it on dry hair, but I've always used it on wet and it comes out fine. At least fine enough for me! Even though it's more expensive, it works better than the lotion and leaves my hair non-greasy.

It's not the cure-all, end-all or be-all, but I'm satisfied with it, and I would recommend it to anyone who's looking for something to tame crazy hair but not weigh it down. ...That's my product review.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

communication is supposed to be my day off from work so I can knit, knit, knit. Thus far I have succeeded to knit, knit, knit on the bus on the way to work. :-) Hee. I kind of miscommunicated with someone about our lab meeting presentation tomorrow, and suddenly I realized that I need to present. Eeks! This will certainly not be my most amazing presentation, but perhaps the lab members in attendance will have some good ideas for me to try out that will work better than what I've been doing for the past several months.

I bet you're wondering how the immunization went yesterday. Well. Yes. It went. It's a two part vaccine - one is oral, the other is an intramuscular injection in the leg. My partner in crime, Lori, and I got through feeding all of the mice and had injected more than half of them and were on the last 10 mice, all of whom were to receive the actual injectable virus instead of the control injection. We went to fill up our syringes and realized...there was about ONE dose of the virus in our tube, which I had thought would have more than 10 doses. Stupid me had not realized that the tube was contoured in such a way that made it look like it should hold a lot of liquid but in actuality only holds about 50 microliters, which is certainly NOT a lot of liquid. Oh dear...

Thus began an hour or two of confused frustration... Why had I thought I'd had so much virus? Why didn't I get more?? Who ordered the virus, anyhow, because it wasn't me? Would I have enough to do the vaccine? It turns out that I found the answer to the last question, and fortunately it was YES. That was good, but poor Lori had to go with me back to the animal facility (two buildings and a hill away) and didn't get to leave work until late. :-( Sorry, Lori...!!! Now I know better, and *I hope* that won't happen again!!

But hey - it's over! And see, despite the best planning I thought I had done, it still wasn't enough. Always something. Bleck. Oh well. So goes life, and today I'm still here and doing fine. Hopefully so are the mice!

Another miscommunication yesterday led to me not having my car back from the body shop. Also not so nice. I had asked that they call my work number when the car was done because my cell phone had no batteries, but they I guess didn't get that instruction and called only my dead cell phone to tell me that I needed to pick up the car by 3:30. ...! Not that I really could have done that anyhow, because of the all-afternoon vaccination... Anyhow, I hope my car is doing okay over in the middle of the city at the body shop. I shall find out in a few hours when the second half of my sort-of-off-work day begins...!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

n e r v o u s

This is a little bit weird, but I think I'm as nervous at this very moment as I have ever been in all my days. Today is the primary inoculation of a bunch of mice I'm immunizing with a new vaccine protocol in the lab. I know how to do everything, all the doses are made...why am I so nervous??? I guess I just want it to work, and it's a lot of semi-dangerous organisms and chemicals, and I REALLY want it to work and not get messed up (yes, I do know that I mentioned that twice).

Interestingly, I have been sleeping just fine. Normally when I get stressed or am excited about something that I know will happen the next morning, I cannot fall asleep. I consider the fact that I have had no problem falling asleep when I get into my bed a huge step forward in my personal stress management. What have I done differently?? Well, on Monday night I wrote out the things I needed to do for Tuesday to prepare for this vaccination thing, and I journaled a prayer about them asking God to help me deal with them on Tuesday, and that gave me the mindset of "I've done all I can do about this today; tomorrow is a full, new day, and I will handle all these issues tomorrow." Last, I guess I just didn't think about it. I was happy that I had learned the proper vaccine administration technique and had calculated all the values of things I needed to measure out for the vaccine today - I knew that I "had all my ducks in a row". No need to worry.

It's T-minus a couple minutes here before I head over to the animal facility to inject and feed the mice... I am now feeling nervous, but I've written out everything I need to do, I have all the stuff I need organized and ready...I just need to chill out. Hope it goes well!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

the knitting continues...

Christmas is approaching...! I started on the Mrs. Beeton on Tuesday night while watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on ABC using the Frog Tree 100% alpaca that I'd bought. Mmmmmm! Why have I never used alpaca before??? It is so soft and light and...yummy!!! It popped onto my needles so fast, but I had to go to the yarn store again the next day to buy some bigger double-pointed needles that would accommodate the alpaca/silk/nylon blend in a dark cream color that I got to go with the blue and coral Frog Tree. I knit and knit and added beads (this was my first time doing so - fun!) and knit some more, and I was done! Yay! I am so happy to have made this great, soft, luxurious gift for someone! I hope they are enjoyed!!

I also knit up the Knitty Knecklace. SUPER quick project, although somehow I messed up with the gauging and mine turned out to be about 4 inches too long...! Eeek!! I have to figure out a way to fix that or I'll have to redo the whole thing. If there weren't so many other gifts to knit up, I would probably redo, but as it stands I think I'm leaning more towards the creative sewing option - fold in the ends a little bit...make it seem like it's supposed to be the way it is...

I have officially decided to take off Thursday as a knitting day. Of course, the annual lab holiday lunch is scheduled for that day, so I'll have to head in to work in the middle of it all, but that shouldn't be so bad. With any luck, by Thursday I'll have the back of the second potholder knit up, and by the end of Thursday I can hopefully have a coffee-coat and a scarf on and then off the needles!

Saturday, December 10, 2005


Friday night I went to watch Disney's new movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, based off of one of my favorite childhood books, by C.S. Lewis. Also as a child I watched many many hours of a BBC television adaptation (the link actually is of a shortened version of the original mini-series - boo) of that and other books in the Narnia series, which I still love to pieces. The BBC production is much more accurate as far as the book goes, and considering that it was made in the 1980's, its special effects weren't all that bad.

My review of the movie is going to be mostly a comparison between the BBC production and the new production... Here goes:

-BBC sticks right to the book, almost word for word. New Narnia throws in a theme that I never caught in the book (family), adds a couple scenes that make the order of events different than in the book, and develops the characters in rather overtly obvious but successfully informative manners (I guess the makers didn't think that Lewis developed the characters well enough???). New Narnia also nearly completely ignores a couple of the more dear minor characters - the stone lion and the stone giant.

-The creatures... The BBC captures the imagination of children with its rendition of characters, which actually look much like the illustrations in every copy of the book that I've ever read. Sure they're people dressed up like beavers and wolves and stuff, but as a child I never thought that was weird. The drawback was that some of the non-costumeable creatures ended up being cartoony things, and that was a little different, but at the time I thought nothing of it because there was no other way to portray those characters! That's the benefit of the New Narnia - all the CGI things, which are seamlessly put into the movie. The one thing I think it stupid is this tree spirit thing, which is totally cheesy (and not exactly in the book). But the fauns, centaurs, etc., and Aslan are sooooooooo good. Aslan looks like you could actually pet him - every hair of his mane is so realistic. Good job, movie-makers. Too bad you gave all the fauns stubby tails even though Lewis specifically describes how Tumnus held his long tail over his arm. I suppose you pick and choose the details you want to incorporate - lion hair vs. faun tails...

-The witch... I really liked the BBC witch a lot more. Very more classic. The New witch has some really messed up hair that I don't think really fits with her character. She reminds me much more of Fiona from Josie and the Pussycats in that her appearance seemed to suggest "evil" and "bad" because she was eclectic, not because her heart was stone-cold.

-A little more about Aslan. In the New Narnia, as I stated before Aslan's CGI is AWESOME. However, I never got much of a sense of what he was like - there seemed to be little development of his emotions, especially in the scene where he is walking to the Stone Table. I think that the whole Stone Table sequence could have been much better as far as characterization - meaning, going back to the original book and including the dialogue between Aslan, Lucy, and Susan, Aslan's desire for their companionship, and Lucy and Susan's reactions (for example, the key line from Lucy that is lacking in the movie, "The cowards!"). The movie makers appear to have been much more concerned about showing off their creature-creations rather than telling the story. The Stone Table cracking was really lame, too. And, most disappointingly, Aslan's roar...not so much powerful or scary or anything. BBC wins in all of the above.

-The best part of the whole movie, I felt, was the casting. Pippa Hall did an amazing job of casting four children who are believably related. I couldn't get over it.

In short, I liked the New Narnia movie. It isn't just like the book, but rarely do se see a movie these days that is. I'm sure it's difficult to try to incorporate everything from a novel into a screenplay, but I'm still sad that writers and directors feel the need to add stuff that wasn't in the author's original work. Most powerful to me was the images of Lucy with Aslan; it sparked in me a desire for a more childlike desire for my Lion of Judah.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

saying goodbye to a bag

Ah yes, I forgot to mention on Tuesday that the owl potholders are being made out of the black yarn that was originally for the Monk's Travel Satchel. After no progress on the bag and many recommendations to not attempt to make the bag because it's a lot of work without a lot of reward AND frustration with changing gauge...I decided that was the end of the bag. It is now parts of a potholder.

Incidentally, as soon as I sew up the potholder, I'll have officially completed a project for the Black Sheep Knitalong. ;-D

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

the christmas countdown begins...

Friday night I decided I needed to get serious if I was ever going to have knitted Christmas presents ready "in time." There's a gift exchange that I'm shooting for having things done by on December 21, and when I looked at what I had to get finished by that day, I realized I would need to knit an average of one gift per day. I've given myself a couple "outs" - there is one knitter among the people I want to give a handmade gift to, and thus she could be delighted with a bit of yarn and some stitch markers, so there's a gift that requires less time (potentially) than knitting something. And then there are the guys. I'm not sure if any of them will at all like the gifts I knit for them, no matter WHAT I knit. So perhaps if I can't finish their gifts, I'll just buy them food. Guys like food, right?

Anyhow, Friday and Saturday and Sunday when I wasn't at church or playing hockey or wasting time playing with the Sims (I hadn't calculated the 1 gift per day thing, or I might have been a little less willing to visit with my Sims), I knit. Friday night I finished up a sock, a scarf, and a mini-sweater. Saturday I knit a scarf, and the rest of the weekend I worked on the poncho.

Good news arrived in my emailbox Monday morning: the new Knitty was published! That in and of itself is good news, but even better was that there were two new ideas for quick-knit gifts. And this is why the what-I-want-to-make-for-people list continues to mutate... (I also discovered an easy pattern for a very cute potholder in a book I own...also got added for a friend or two to receive...)

At least one of these patterns has now become a short-term goal to give to someone I don't know. Angie from my Bible study is coordinating our group's "adoption" of a family for Christmas through the Salvation Army. We get a list of what the family members are dreaming of and then fill their need with what we have. The mother of this family, a widow with three children ranging from pre-school through high school, wants...nothing. Simply that her children's Christmas wishes would be granted. I read that and immediately thought, "I'm making her something." I do hope that I can make something that expresses to this poor woman that she is a treasure and is highly favored by God, despite her dire circumstances. ...It's even enough to make me head over to the yarn shop tonight and splurge a bit for somebody (okay, let's be honest, and also to buy myself some sock yarn because I love that sock I made as a gift... But I would NOT have gone just for the sock yarn).

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

christmas gifts in the car

It's Knitting Day.

As noted previously, I finished The Sock - sock one of two for a friend for Christmas. I'm going to rip out the toe and reshape it because it's really pointy. I must say that I don't fully agree with the Knitty sock primer's opinion of toe shaping.

After the sock I joined a new ball of yarn and knit some more of the poncho. But on Thanksgiving, after casting on and knitting up a bit of a mini-sweater ornament (which is a WAY fun and quick project!!), my wrists hurt so bad that I told my family not to allow me to knit for 24 hours so that I wouldn't injure myself beyond repair. Thus, I didn't pick up any knitting again until Saturday.

Saturday in the late afternoon I got some more of the mini-sweater finished as I sat in the car in the middle of a snow-covered field that USED to be a parking lot. Last I knew, it WAS a parking lot. Obviously I was wrong, because after I had driven halfway across it, I got stuck in the extremely thick mud that was under the snow. I know this sounds completely dumb - couldn't I tell that I was in a field and not a parking lot? The answer is NO. There was absolutely no indication that the pavement-covered-with-snow turned into grass-covered-with-snow. I went with what this landscape had been for the twenty years I had known it...and was mournfully incorrect in my assumption.

Thus, as I waited for a tow truck to arrive to winch me out of the mud, I knit.

Of course, based on my car luck in the past week, I'm sure you guessed that the removal of my car from the mud was not quite as simple as it should have been. You see, tow trucks only have cable that goes out to 50, maybe 75 feet. My car was about 50 feet shy when you completely extended the 75 foot cable. Even when the tower added all the chains he could find in the shop, it wouldn't reach since I had somehow managed to get so far across the mushy field, upon which none of the tow trucks could drive without also getting stuck in the mud. Finally the tower ended up bringing over his own 4-wheel-drive huge pickup truck and pulled me out. However, as I found out yesterday when inquiring from his boss, he wasn't supposed to use his own vehicle, so it is highly likely that the destroyed back bumper that was left due to the ripping of the tow-chain across it will not be covered by the towing company's insurance, as I had been assured on Saturday night. Splendid. I also managed to majorly screw up my alignment while attempting to back out of the mud. The steering wheel now shakes so much that it'll make your arms go numb if you're not careful.

The lessons from all of this, I suppose, are a) Don't assume anything is how it used to be b) Don't take a person's word for anything - ALWAYS read all legal material, and ALWAYS inspect every document that you agree to sign for any sort of liability clause - even on the back of the document even if you didn't know there was a back of the document AND... c) Always carry knitting wherever you go - you never know when you'll need it to kill time or calm your nerves.

Friday, November 25, 2005

a thanksgiving trip

On Wednesday morning, after dropping by the lab to develop some Western blot film, I set off for Kentwood-via-Columbus. It was a lovely, sunny day as I traveled southwest past California, Houston, and Washington. I entered West Virginia and had one of the loveliest drives ever with the rolling hills of the mountains looming on either side of the freeway. Within an hour after leaving Pittsburgh I was in Ohio (3 states in one hour…wow) where it promptly began to snow.

I met my brother on the campus of Ohio State University, where he goes to school, and we had lunch. I had a brief tour of part of the massive campus (so like Michigan State University…ahh!...yay!!) and, while Jonathan was at quantum mechanics class (what big sister would not want to accompany her brother to that class? I know, what a silly sister I am.) I visited the main library (and this!). Then we set off through rush-hour-plus-we’re-afraid-of-snow traffic and went 60 miles in first the two hours of our trip out of Columbus.

Finally we arrived in Kentwood in not bad time at all, and the next morning when I awoke on Thanksgiving…the world around was covered with a blanket of snow. Perfect! The only non-perfect aspect of the day was that my sister is still in California and wasn’t with us.

As I traveled through the “tristate area” I decided that it would be a wonderful place to live. And I was struck by the realization that it’s fairly well agreed upon that certain things in nature are beautiful. Why is that? What is it that makes a sunset or a mountain or an ocean? Is it because it’s something we humans cannot create? Is beauty something that’s qualitative, or are there actually absolutes in beauty?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

yipes, stripes

This week I've been working exclusively on The Sock (probably a bad wrists are beginning to hurt, which means I should work on something else and/or stop knitting for a while. Boo.) and it is nearly done! I have about half an inch left to knit (that's about one stripe with the yarn and gauge that I have) and then it's time to shape the toe and...then I'm done!! Yipee!

Last night, however, my ball of sock yarn got nearly completely all unballed. I realized this as I was getting into my car. I was getting into my car because I was awaiting the arrival of a person to change my tire since the same tire (it's a brand new tire, but it's on the same wheel) is now flat again. When the tire went flat (which occurred as I parked my car on the street just around the corner from my friends' home where I was going for dinner), I left it where it was and went to the house for dinner. I called for a tire change (it's included in my car warranty - I know it's not difficult to change a tire on my own, but it's way easier when someone else does it for you!) and ate a little dinner and then went back to the car. As I sat in the car I felt a tug and saw that there was yarn extending from my purse.

I looked back from whence I had come and saw, to my horror, that my thin yarn extended across the sidewalk, through two yards, into a bush, and around the street corner...

Thus began my effort to find where the ball now was, inform passers-by that they might get tripped by the yarn (I missed telling one runner, who DID get tripped up by the yarn...), and untangle the yarn from the branches of a large bush.


I suppose you could say that I'm going through one of those streaks of bad luck, except I don't really believe in luck.

All I want now is for my tire to stay inflated until I get back to Kentwood and am with my parents and near tire stores whose reputations I know!!

Anyhow, here's a picture of the sock mid last week. It's much farther along now, but I have no digital camera.

Ooh, also today I am wearing the first sweater I ever knit. It's big and acrylic and purple. I think this is the first time I've actually worn it to somewhere that people know me...!

Monday, November 21, 2005


I've been working with the high school youth ministry at my church since the fall of 2002, and nearly every year I've gone with them on their fall retreat. I recall going on a few retreats when I was in high school, but oddly enough I've gone on more in the past 4 years than I have when I was in high school myself.

This past weekend was the youth group's fall retreat called J-Town, which is held at a retreat center called Jumonville a couple hours south of Pittsburgh. One thing I've learned over the years in youth ministry is that it's not just for the "kids" -- I often get lots of stuff out of the retreat. This weekend was no exception. Not only was it a great getaway from the pressures and worries of real life, it was also good to hear some great truths spoken about Jesus Christ, as the theme of the weekend is the gospel.

The speaker for the weekend was Brad Henderson of the Pittsburgh Youth Network, who happens to also be from Michigan (from my favorite beach city of all time, Grand Haven). On Saturday night he read from Mark 14:53-65 and 15:1-39, which describe Jesus's trial, torture, and crucifixion. He also showed a video montage of scenes from Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." I have heard the story and seen the movie clips time and time again, but as I watched I realized that I never put much thought into what actually occurred during this historical event. I never really considered how silently Jesus took the slaps in the face, the spitting, the crown of thorns, the mocking, the flogging, the nailing of flesh. He did not protest. He could have resisted, and, being God's Son, could have easily escaped all of it. But instead he chose to endure all of the pain and humiliation. Why? In order for people - me, for example - to regain a right relationship with God. Jesus loves people that much. The more I think about it, the more I can't get over it. I wouldn't ever even dream of getting slapped in the face on behalf of a friend without some sort of retaliation. Jesus went a lot further than a simple slap.

Made me think. Made me cry, too.

Also made me love Jesus more.

Friday, November 18, 2005

the rest of the story

Wow. And I thought that yesterday pre-5 o' clock was exciting...

As I left work and was walking through the parking lot, a black SUV hit me. Head on HIT me. I somehow managed to semi jump up onto the hood of the car (while holding an apple in my hand...talented, eh?) and was left with only an achey right side. The poor driver was so shaken up. I seem to be fine. Last night I had one of the elders at church pray for me, and I know this sounds really weird, but I felt better instantly. Isn't the first time that's happened to me (the healing I mean; this was the first time being hit by a car. Hopefully the last).

I went home, went to Taco Bell for some comfort food, then Starbucks for some more unnecessarily expensive warm drink, and drove to Sammi's house. I drive Sammi to and from church sometimes - she's in the high school youth group. We had to stop by La Roche College where Sammi's mom works. I parked, went in with Sammi for a bit longer than we had anticipated but not more than 10 minutes, and I came back and had gotten a $100 parking ticket. I just had to laugh. Please, would this be the end of the terribly ironic day??

No, of course not. Sammi's mom, being a professor at the school, was able to get my ticket forgiven (YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), and Sammi and I went to church...where the sermon began quite literally with "Have you ever had one of those days...weeks...months...? It's not that totally horrible stuff happens, but something like...a flat tire." Oh boy. Not sure if the sermon exactly HELPED matters, but it at least reminded me that I'm not the only one who has weirdness occur all at once.

Sammi and I returned to her home without incident (after another cup of hot chocolate!!), and I just had to stop to pick up some groceries and return a DVD. Thought I'd give a friend a call on the way. We talked for probably and hour and a half, and the call suddenly ended with my friend being very mad at me all of a sudden. I wasn't really hurt by it at all, and it's nothing that I can hold against my friend, but it just added to the frustration of the day.

I do hope that today is not quite as eventful. ...And I hope there's some more S_N_O_W!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

can't bring me down

You ever have one of those days...?

I was planning to take my car into the Honda dealership for an oil change this morning. Last night after dropping off a friend and headed back to my house, one of my tires blew on my car. A nice guy came and changed my tire for me thanks to the Honda roadside assistance included in my warranty. Thus, after my oil change I headed over to Pep Boys to buy a new tire (of course, my tires are less than a year old, so it's quite sad that I already need to buy a new one. Bleh.). After they installed my new tire they informed me that two of the bulbs in my headlights were out. It was at this moment that I began to become suspicious... I've never been that big of a truster of car people anyhow, since every time I take it somewhere there's always something ELSE wrong with it, too, you know. I asked to see the burnt out headlights, and as I strolled over to see it I realized that HEY! the dealership was supposed to have just checked all the lights and other things - they even gave me a checklist saying that they had checked it out. Hmmmm...

Had Pep Boys figured out a way to bust two of the light bulbs???? Had the dealership not really done their inspection as stated???? Could it be in the three minutes that it took me to drive from the dealership to Pep Boys not one but TWO light bulbs, on opposite sides of the car, miraculously burned out???? I was pretty sure the third option was unlikely, so it became clear that SOMEONE was being dishonest with me.

Of course, you know the story - neither place would admit that they had either damaged or neglected to check over my headlights, so I was obviously stuck with the bill. Grr. It's so strange. I don't know quite what to think, but I'm pretty sure that my conclusion is that I will not go to that particular Honda dealership again. This is the same dealership that I boycotted for a couple years when they insisted that all I needed to do at the 20,000 mark was get my oil changed when the owner's manual clearly says that about 20 things need to be checked and changed.

I also feel kind of bad because in my frustration I was a bit rude to the Pep Boys person. He, very wittingly (but at the time very ANNOYINGLY!), replied, "Well, the place you took the car for the oil change doesn't check over things as thoroughly as we do here at Pep Boys."

The car things got taken care of FINALLY and I could get to work for the noon seminar that I was anticipating - Dr. Rafi Ahmed came to talk about CD8 T cells, which are one of my favorite things. I sipped a French vanilla cappucino thing and at a M&M cookie while I listened. I then proceeded to rip out the sock heel for the second time after having messed it up again after re-knitting it while waiting for my car to get fixed three times., to make matters bad again, I just managed to get big grease streaks all over my jeans as I was moving some stuff around in anticipation of the great Washing of the Lab Floors scheduled for tomorrow. Ugh! I have NO time to wash these before the weekend, and I need to find some clothes to wear while I run around with the high schoolers on the fall retreat. This is not good. I may be doing laundry tonight at midnight. I don't know how in the heck I'm going to get my pants dry by tomorrow at 4p.m. as dryers are not an option because they shrink all the jeans that are hard enough to find in a length that covers my ankles. Perhaps I'll need to sacrifice my longest pair and hope they don't get too small.

BUT - can't bring me down, because THIS MORNING IT SNOWED!!!!!! It wasn't much, but it was LOVELY!!! Gentle while flakes that were hardly noticeable fell onto my windshield as I drove between car places and then to work. YAY YAY YAY!! Winter is on its way!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

good start on gifts

Between games and while lounging around with my teammates at the hockey tournament, I got a good jump on my holiday knitting, which, by the way, is now part of Alison's Holiday Knit-a-long.

My teammates gazed on as I brick patterned the poncho until I ran out of yarn (one ball finished!! Yay! Three more to go.).

Then I picked up the sock yarn and cast on "with Pickup Sticks" as one teammate teased - sock is now going nicely. I realized a little bit into the ribbing that it's going to be quite difficult to get both socks to look the same. It's self-patterning yarn, and sadly it doesn't seem that the two balls I bought start at the same part in the pattern.

Maybe Dobby's single-sock fashion trend will start to catch on...? (The fuzz in the picture is Zeke, who is currently very grumpy due to the appearance of a new food that is supposed to make him feel better since he's been showing symptoms of being allergic to his regular food. He has been eating around the new kibbles and crying a lot.)

And that reminds me - I finished Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire last night! This is certainly worthy of being mentioned on knitting day since there is so much knitting in the HP books (and movies!) and since now that I'm not reading about Harry on the bus, I can knit on the bus. Those Christmas presents should be done in no time (in theory)!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

the tournament

I have just returned from the Strongsville Tournament! Unfortunately the team didn't do so hot, but I think it was a good experience for us - we were playing against teams that I know we have the potential to match or beat, but we (at least I) haven't been training with that in mind. I had a pretty good time, which is always what's most important, I think. Brett Hull, one of my favorite hockey players, once said, "If you can't play with a smile on your face, something's wrong."

The tournament left me a) hungery and b) tired. To satisfy my hunger, I went to my all-time favorite pizza place, Donatos, which hasn't existed in my neck of the woods for about 7 years, and ate nearly an entire medium pizza on the drive back to Pittsburgh from Strongsville. ! Back in Pittsburgh, I entered the house, put the rest of the pizza in the refrigerator, and fell asleep for three hours, during which time I had a dream that Mickey Mouse played on my hockey team.

Friday, November 11, 2005

a few funnies and a lesson

This weekend the hockey gals and I head out to Strongsville, Ohio, for a tournament. I was checking out the tournament website and found that one of the teams is called the Florida Beaches. I kept wondering in my head why in the world a team would want to have such a stupid name. Beaches aren't ferocious...they don't DO anything... Finally I said the name out loud and realized why it was accepted as the name for a women's team. Call me Slow.

The second funny things is that I finally found that Disco yarn I had lost. Last night about about 11 I realized that I need to go into work on Sunday night, thus I will need my access card...and I haven't been able to find THAT for several weeks, either. Thus began my search through my bedroom, my home office space, my mail pile, and my purse. As I was searching for the card I ran across tons of other things I've been wondering about...a knitting gauge savings account record book...some lip balm...and the yarn! In the end, both the yarn and the card were in the places I thought they would be, although I know I had looked in those places for those items several times before and couldn't locate them. Now I have more yarn and am happy. And I have my access card and can work late. Not exactly HAPPY, but useful.

This afternoon I went to the PhD thesis defense of a classmate named Mike. I was very struck when his advisor said that Mike always had an optimistic attitude throughout his graduate career. It didn't surprise me that Mike did this, since he's such a happy and upbeat person. But it's also because he is always a happy and upbeat person that I was so surprised - I would never have guessed that his work had been frustrating and fruitless until January of this year!! What a lesson for me... I often advise people with that old saying "attitude is everything," but I very infrequently heed my own advice. My current attitude at work is that it's never going to work and this is a stupid project and why can't I have picked an easier thing to study. Mike would look at the situation and say "Here's a problem. I need to work that out. Go." So...c'mon, Ruth -- GO!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

i need your help: desktop vs. laptop

With the predoctoral fellowship I received earlier this autumn, I have been allotted money for a computer. I purchased a new laptop computer two years ago and thus don't have an exceeding NEED for a new one, but it would be nice to not have to transport the lappy back and forth between work and home. So I'm considering using the money to get a new one.

On the one hand I'd like a second laptop. It would be newer, so it could conceivably replace the one I have now when (if is more like it, I hope) it goes caput. I could keep the second laptop at work and then bring it to the places on campus where I would use a laptop - for presentations, mostly. I suppose I could also use it in the library, but I never go to the library anyhow. One thing the new guy would have that the current laptop doesn't have is a built-in wireless internet connection. That would be useful for those trips to the library or for at a scientific meeting where they usually end up having free wireless. I would want it to be rather small to aid in portability.

But on the other hand, a desktop would allow me to get more for the money. Obviously it wouldn't be portable, but it could have more memory, be faster, potentially have a DVD burner... Not that I really have much need for that. would be nice, right?

I'm way confused. I want to make a good selection that will last me for several years to come. However, perhaps my current laptop will last me for several years to come! I haven't had any issues with it yet (knock on wood).

Oh, the wondrous readers of my blog, though you be few and far between, what thinkest thou? I like Compaq computers - but have you had a great experience with another manufacturer? The University can buy me a Dell or a Gateway for cheaper than the average person would have to pay.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

uuuugh - work

Ah, work. I don't know what I'd do without some type of work, but there are many a moment when I would rather be in a different type of work than the current type.

The new "developments," if you would like to call them that, at work are as follows:
  • It appears that the protein blots I've been using to try to detect protein in the gut of mice were not working at their most sensitive level due to ancient reagents. This is semi-good news in that it is possible that all the negative data I've gotten since July is actually positive data if the experiments were to be performed with new reagents. The bad news is I need to do all those experiments with the new reagents. Not too terrible, but annoying. I sure hope that this gives me something useful!
  • The mice I've been immunizing for the past couple months have absolutely no immune response. The leading theory on why not is that the adjuvant that we are using is crappy. I have my doubts, but since when does my opinion count? I don't have a very good alternative hypothesis, either.
  • Another theory about why we don't get good immune respones to our vaccine is that our delivery vector contains so many of its own proteins that the vaccine protein that it is delivering is in too small a quantity for the body to see enough of to make a decent immune response. Thus, I will soon be starting a new set of vaccinations in which I compare the response to the protein itself versus the protein with the vector. I've often wondered what would happen if we immunize with just the protein, but it's never been done in our lab. I'm happy to finally be able to do it.
  • Currently I am testing mice to see what happens to the natural bacteria in their gut when we feed them antibiotic and then our vaccine vector, which is also a bacterium. I think that nothing will happen - that the vector won't colonize and start showing up in the feces, but...we'll just have to wait and see. I hope it does what I expect, otherwise we've got a couple extra issues on our hands with the whole vaccine thing.
So, if you were interested in an update on my work, there you have it. And update on my Sims: I haven't visited them much recently. Too busy or too knitting. Adam did manage to head off to college, though, and he is now a sophomore majoring in something like mathematics, I think, and keeping up an A+ average. Go him! He blew all his scholarship money on clothing, which was sort of stupid and could have gone instead to rent for non-dorm housing. Oh well.

Back on the homefront, Jimmy and all the gals are trying to make and keep friends so Jimmy can get a promotion at work. When he and Mackenzie got married, they had 17 family friends. Now, between the six family members in the house, they have a combined total of 8 friends - and one of them is Adam!! That shows you what happens when couples have babies...good-bye friends!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

knitting lessons and a second chance

I finished the scarf that will soon be shipped to my friend Angie in Colorado! I want one, too! But let me tell you something: knitting scarves is BO-RING!! I can easily see where people who learn to knit and then are shoved a ball of yarn and told to make a scarf would become thoroughly discouraged. It's not difficult by any means, but it sure is tiresome and not very exciting or daring. I am quite glad that my first project was NOT a scarf, because I probably would not have liked knitting so much.

However, even if I would have made a scarf at the get-go, I would probably have given knitting a second chance. I gave a yarn store a second chance. Remember when I had that bad experience where I felt extremely pressured to purchase yarn that was way out of my budget? Well, I considered staying away from that shop forever, but when I found out that the owner was a friend of a friend, I realized I should trudge back on in. So I set out - with the intention of really buying something - accompanied with birthday money and a desire to purchase yarn for friends for Christmas presents (some scarves, even, knowing that I don't need to make them in totally yawn-inducing garter stitch). I walked out with two types of sock yarn, some multi-colored natural-ish hued yarn for a poncho for a friend, more furry yarn for presents, and some fun tweedy pink for a sweater for me.

I am forcing myself to bury away the tweed until I've finished Christmas presents and the Starry Night sweater (which got zero work done on it this week) and I've given a bit more attention to the Aran pullover. I'm also saying adios for a while to the Brown Sheep Wildfoote purple sock yarn - will eventually become a pair for me! - and am instead going to focus on the Fortissima Colori Socka self-patterning yarn to make a pair of multi-colored socks for someone special for Christmas. I started a swatch with it yesterday and can tell I'm going to enjoy this yarn! I might have to go and buy some for me... (Note, this would give me a pair of many-colored socks that indeed WOULD go with many things and would thus expand my outfit options when I am down to the bottom of my sock drawer!) But not until after I've also finished the poncho, which will take some doing since I need to figure out what sort of stitch pattern I like for it. In the meantime, I also intend to squish out a couple scarves for gal friends from some furry and metallic something-or-other yarn I bought plus some Disco that I got for free in the mail and forgot I had until yesterday. I actually have a gigantic spreadsheet of what I'd like to knit for many different friends, relatives, and co-workers...but I think I won't be able to finish even half of them, so I'm not making any actual gift goals. If I get that poncho and even one sock (not the whole pair...) done, I'll be happy.

Do you know anyone who takes a day or two off work each holiday season to spend the day baking? I'm thinking I might need to do that for this gift-knitting.

Monday, November 07, 2005

a goose egg

My hockey team and I travelled to Kent, Ohio, this weekend for a game against the Kent Twisters in one of my favorite rinks, the Kent State University rink. In truth, the rink's facilities really stink - for example, the locker rooms are ucky and half of them are up a flight of steps. But, I love the charm of the place. All full of old wood, paneled walls all over, and my favorite part is the amazing fire place in the middle of a sunken sitting area.

Good news - we won the game after a very long fight. The game was scoreless until the middle of the third period. We managed to score a second goal, and thus we ended up winning AND I got a shut-out. Hooray!! It wasn't the toughest of games I've ever played, but keeping mentally in the game was a struggle. It's hard to stick with it sometimes, especially in a long game, which this certainly felt like.

Yay for us, team!! We head to Strongsville, Ohio, this coming weekend for a tournament. Lots of games, lots of competition. Lots of fun???

Friday, November 04, 2005


Is it bad when you select your day's wardrobe based solely on the color of the only pair of clean socks you own?

On the schedule for this evening:
  • do laundry
  • knit scarf
  • read some more of "The Goblet of Fire"
  • attempt to do all three at once
Oh, and since I entitled this post "socks" I should mention that I'm considering learning how to knit socks. Might go sock-yarn shopping this weekend with some birthday money.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

feeling sad twice, once for no good reason

(I cheated a little and actually finished this on November 4, but I wrote most of it on the 2nd and 3rd so dated it as such)

So this might be a little long and not make a whole lot of sense, but bear with me...

Yesterday I mentioned some thoughts inspired by coffee on the bus. ...Let us look in at the scene: A tired but cookie-filled young woman sits semi-sulkily on the bus holding a cup of coffee in one mittened hand and a journal article about a new anti-viral drug in the other. Her stop is coming up, so she stuffs the article into her huge purse - she hasn't really been understanding the words her eyes passed over anyways. The bus stops. A young man enters the bus. He is wearing a faded coat, carrying a foil-covered dish, and looking pleasant as he puts bills into the fare machine. Don't ask what, but something about this man makes the woman pause...and want to cry.

Here she is, fairly grumpy over having been left by the previous bus, sitting with her warm cup of expensive and unnecessary coffee, taking the bus with a bus pass that costs her absolutely nothing except bearing the title of "graduate student," which means she probably works way less and gets paid way more than the man she has just encountered. Doesn't she realize that everything in her mildly enviable life has been handed to her? Money to spend on frivolous things, the option for laziness at work, a car, clothes, friends, a family that cares, an education.

I think of a song that came out years ago by Everlast called "What it's Like." It states, very wisely..."You know where it ends it usually depends on where you start." So true, so true.

Actually...let me pause there and reflect on that statement a little bit more. Excuse the tangent:
  • This is true for your socioeconomic standing. I (the one on the bus with the coffee in case you didn't notice) was born into a suburbian family, grew up with suburbian money, went to suburbian schools, long to live in a suburb again - basically, I was fortunate enough to begin with more than I needed for life. Other people are born into different situations - poor parents give birth to poor babies who grow up with in resource-poor homes and get educated in poor schools, etc. A generalization, I realize, but wouldn't you agree?
  • And what about religion. Recently I had this discussion with someone (I've had it before over and over again...) - a person grows up going to church or temple or synagogue or nowhere and tends to adopt the religious beliefs of his or her parents. I feel there comes a time in everybody's life when they stop and say "Hey, wait a minute - why is it that I believe these things I say I believe?", and upon further investigation they realize that they never really thought much about those things they grew up knowing to be true, never considered that possibility that they might be wrong or not the best possible way. But if people don't stop and think much about it...they'll often just jump back on and say "Well, it seems to be working okay, so I'll just keep doing it the way I've always done." I know, this isn't what always happens, but often 'tis.
Back to the point.

Instead of having a cushy life like our ungrateful "heroine," the man on the bus probably has worked hard all day, all his life. He probably is satisfied with the warm food he hungrily sniffs through the foil as he takes his seat on the bus. He probably is looking forward to arriving home so he can eat his hard-earned food - he hasn't been disillusioned into demanding that he eat it on the bus right then and there or been spoiled into being able to waltz into a talk about a line of work that has nothing to do with his own to grab coffee and cookies at 4 in the afternoon on any given day (I was cookie-filled because I went to a talk on predator-prey relationships between a few species in the Rocky Mountains...and there were cookies so of course I HAD to eat some). He has so much less, but he is wonderfully content. Not only that, but he is satisfied with himself because he knows he has done good work and has done it with integrity.

So, that's "the way it is" that was revealed to me on Monday. So what? Well, I was overcome with guilt about my disgusting ability to take everything for granted, for one. But, I realized it wasn't really enough to KNOW that unless it spurred some sort of change so I won't have to feel that way again. And so, in the end, I was stuck. Because what am I supposed to do? Work diligently, sure. But what else? Give away everything I own? Help inner-city kids with their schoolwork? Not drink coffee? Not eat cookies?

Is it possible to truly ENJOY the luxuries of life when you know you don't deserve them? I often would have answered that the answer is just the opposite - you enjoy them more when you DO realize that you don't deserve them. But what about that GUILT, that overwhelming sense of "this is not fair - I should not be enjoying myself when there are so many people suffering"?

That's the end of that thought. In the end, I supposed I decided not to think about it anymore. More questions than answers. And no, I didn't suddenly become disciplined and 100% productive at every moment at work.

One thing I really do not like about the internet is that people who communicate on it are very capable of not telling you so very much about themselves. For example, it drives me nuts when I find out from a website that something is deeply troubling somebody I care about, but they fail to mention what that deeply troubling thing is. Such is the case right now. It makes me worry and have a vey active imagination all of a sudden. "Maybe this happened, and that led to this - and then (oh no!) x, y, z occurred!!" or "Well, I'm sure whatever it is really isn't that bad, because if it was, the person would explain it more or at least call me and tell me about it." or "I wonder if I did something to make this person deeply troubled. Oh dear. What could I have done? How ever can I fix it if I don't know what I did?"

Probably when people do this online the rest of the story is known by the people who have caused the deep troubling (although sometimes I can't be too sure, since I've been involved in cases when one party is utterly oblivious to the other party's upsettedness), and they're just telling those people that they're upset. It's like an inside joke. But it's not a joke. It's serious. An inside-out joke?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Lots of fun working on the Starry Night sweater this week, especially as it has gotten cold (and then gotten warmer again, but it's chilly at night). I'm currently about halway done with the chest chart, which means nearly 75% of the front and back are finished. Doing some cheap math, I figure that's about 37.5% complete. Doesn't seem so great, to tell the truth. Suppose I'd better just keep on knitting!!

However, I started a gift for a friend that I gotta get done soon, so I will be working diligently on that instead. It shouldn't be too much work - it's a garter stitch scarf, but it still requires work. I wager I could get it done by the end of the weekend if I gave it some effort. I lost lots of time that could have been used for knitting it yesterday when an annoying series of events occurred...the bus I take during Standard Time (because it's dark and scary when I get dropped off on the regular bus) drove past me at 7:40p.m., which was already 15 minutes after it was supposed to stop and pick me up. The next bus wasn't due for another 40 minutes, so I stomped back to where the Daylight Savings Time bus picks me up, which happens to be right in front of a Starbucks. Being that I was angered at the unstopping bus and that it was Halloween and distinctly autumn, I dropped in for an overpriced pumpkin spice latte to soothe me. As soon as I stepped out of Sbucks, the DST bus arrived, and so I had to hold the latte on the ride home instead of using my hands for knitting. In the end, the latte did me good, and it was involved in another series of events within my head that I'll discuss later...

I'm thinking about stopping all work on the Monk Bag. A few other people have told me what a waste of time it is to knit. I do need a new bag, however, since mine is falling apart in several places. Guess I gotta pull out the sewing machine and fix up the current bag and wait for bag-making (or buying?) inspiration or motivation.

Monday, October 31, 2005

being passionate

There are a couple things about which I am passionate. I don't just like these things, I love them:
  • Learning. There are a few subjects I don't have much interest in learning about, but there are far more that I do. They are various and sundry. Many have a lot to do with science.
  • Eating with family or friends. I'm not talking about coffee and danishes, although that's pretty good, too. I mean a FEAST, like at Thanksgiving. Where you sit down with lots of warm, good-smelling, filling food, and you stay sitting for a long, long time. It's not the food that's so much of the draw here, it's the being with the people.
  • Animals. They are intriguing to me. I enjoy seeing them behave and learn and grow.
  • Manual labor for other people. Digging holes, weeding, building, moving heavy objects, sometimes even cleaning - it doesn't matter, as long as it's not for myself. I could do activities such as these for hours and hours on end and not get sick of it. And I'd do them with stellar quality.
  • Teenagers, especially high school ones. Like animals (although there are very significant differences), they intrigue me.
  • Truth. I very much dislike half-truths, deception, confusion, and lies.
  • Accuracy. Related to truth, I suppose, but different. Take for example, the incredible surge of emotion that I experienced when I overheard a woman relating to her friends a news story I had taken an interest in about a month ago regarding a large snake attempting to eat an alligator in the Florida Everglades. According to the woman, a boa constrictor tried to eat an alligator, but the alligator ate a hole through the boa's stomach and both of them died. I was quite perturbed that the snake's genus and area of origin had been significantly changed: in actuality, it was a Burmese python (which are from...Burma, or South East Asia, at least - boas are from Central America, or other boa-types are from Madagascar). In addition, as was pointed out by a friend who asked why both animals died if the alligator was able to chew its way out, it was the alligator's tail that was sticking out of the python, not the tooth-infested mouth. I had half a mind to go and correct this inaccurate reporting, but the other half of my mind told me this was a very ridiculous step to take, so I didn't.
Why these things? What is it that makes a person passionate about a certain thing but not others? I am NOT passionate about cooking or reading or even knitting, although I enjoy all these things. I am also not passionate about babies or children or virtues like patience and diligence. I sense that passions are very much inherent, that people are programmed by God to have certain strong likes and dislikes and soapboxes and indifferences. I don't have any evidence for this hypothesis, but it's what I'm working off of for right now. Perhaps one day I'll give this more thought...or I'll apply my passion for learning to understanding this exact subject; obviously, it's not one of those specific topics I'm passionate about learning about.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

knits away!

Ahhhhh. The happy joy of knitting. I actually did some this week! And I'm so much better for it. If only I could figure out a way to exercise and knit at the same time - I'd be relaxed and energized all in one go.

I've tossed the other projects aside and have been focusing on the wave skirt and the *cheer!!!* Starry Night sweater. The skirt lived in my big purse all week, so it got knit on the bus. Once I found the sweater buried under a pile of clothes in my bedroom, I didn't work on it because I was too lazy to join in new yarn.

The skirt is coming along slowly but steadily. I still love working on it - it's a very lovely texture. I am using those hoop earrings from my birthday as stitch markers. They work great!!

I've finished the bottom half of the sweater and, within a matter of rows, will be starting the texture and color portion that will add the silhouette of pine trees. I'm very much looking forward to that part, and thus I am motivated to knit the rest of the boring back and forth part. I joined one of the new balls of yarn on the bus! Gotta remember to take those needles out of my purse...!! Potentially very ouchie.

And last but not least, the joy of knitting - and giving! I'm procrastinating in picking out Christmas knits for various people, but in the meantime I gave the Harry Potter bookscarf to my coworker who loves Harry Potter and basically every other book and movie that I seem to enjoy. She reads way more than I do, so it will be much more useful for her than me.

Monday, October 24, 2005

get a life

I admit it. I'm a Sims junkie. I don't know what it is about this game that makes it so incredibly addicting to me, but I totally love it. I attribute it, in part, to my love for writing, for creating imaginary lives. With the Sims, I can see these paper-lives come to...well, digital-life at least.

My current Sims "project" is a variation on the "legacy challenge" generated by other Sims fans. The original challenge was to start with a person, have that person live and marry and have kids, etc., and have that family continue for 10 generations. You get points for various accomplishments and lose points for letting bad things happen. I'm not so much into such competition, but I decided it would be fun to at least play the game without cheating. :-) It's very easy to give your struggling Sims some extra money with a few pushes of buttons, and money means a lot in Sim world, although not everything.

Thus far, I started Mr. Jimmy Sanders out. Okay, so actually I cheated to get him "started". I wanted him to have a college education because that allows for some extra career options and SHOULD have also given a few other nice perks, but of course my cheating backfired and the added perks didn't get added because I was using outdated cheating software. Anyhow, Jimmy thus is a messed up character who lives for fun. Sims can have one of 6 different aspirations. Jimmy's is "Pleasure" which entails things like...juggling...stargazing...playing video games...going dancing. But, since I cheated, his life-long aspiration, for which he receives a lot of happiness-points, is to reach the top of the Law Enforcement career path. Jimmy married a great lady named Mackenzie. She's got a great job - a Professional Party Guest. Yeah...realistic, right? Unfortunately, Mackenzie's life-long goal is to marry off 6 children. This means that Jimmy and Mackenzie need to HAVE 6 children, which is a lot of kids, especially when you aren't super-rich to start with, as is the case with this lovely couple.

Through many, many hours of playing, a couple game-crashes, and at least one program glitch, I've managed to get Jimmy and Mackenzie to turn out fairly happy, live in a 5-bedroom home, own a car, and have 5 of their 6 planned children. (It got too crazy after 5. They're going to wait for a while.) Right now the children are...

  • Adam - he's a teenager but will go to college in a matter of Sim-hours. Current aspiration = Knowledge.

  • Brittany - also a teenager. Aspiration = Family

  • Cara - teenager. Aspiration = Romance, which is my most disliked aspiration. I hope she changes it in college.

  • Cora - Cara's twin sister. She's a little slow... Aspiration = Family. And let me just say, when Cara and Cora were born, Brittany was still a toddler, and life was INSANE!!! As a real-life application, having 3 under-5-year-olds in a household is really NOT a good idea (I would guess).

  • Danielle - a child right now. Chidren's aspirations are just to grow up.

I know this is totally useless and boring for many of you, but...hey, it's my blog.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

not much knitting

Haven't done much knitting, really.

I took the skirt on the bus today because I couldn't find the Starry Night sweater; got about one round done. Woo hoo - not.

I sewed up the wine cozy in time for the shower and decided it was pretty much a knitting disaster. I had somehow dropped a couple stitches way back within the first 2 inches - it it's 8+ inches long. Uuuugh! I "fixed" it with crazy sewing techniques, added some cute beads, and hoped that nobody would really notice that I had made anything. Nobody did.

I was inspired by I don't know what to knit Christmas gifts for about 30 people I know. I'm attempting to figure out who will get what and whether I'll realistically have enough time to get it all done in time for the holidays - especially with the Starry Night sweater's completion also a goal for Christmas. I need a day off - to do nothing but KNIT! Miss it.

Monday, October 17, 2005


This weekend I travelled to Kentwood, Michigan, my hometown, mostly to attend Amber's bridal shower, but also to spend time with my parents, at whose house I stayed. For most of my life, this has been home, and it's always been where I wanted to settle when I "grow up." However, as I completed my drive from Pittsburgh to the Grand Rapids area, a novel thought hit me. I could settle down in Grand Rapids. But I would be perfectly happy settling down somewhere else, too. This has NEVER happened before. Normally trips "home" are very difficult for me, because I just want to stay there forever. So this was quite a big step, if you want to think of it that way. I guess I'm just realizing that there's more to life than my dreams. Sure, it's good to have dreams and ambitions and goals, but one must also allow for God's direction. Maybe He doesn't want me in GR. Who am I to argue and whine, "But I want to live there!"?

I still really like Kentwood, though. I visited the Kentwood Ice Arena, where I began my hockey career. It was cool to see 16 and under girls playing there now as a travel team - to think that I was part of the team that led to their existance! While many things, like the ice arena, are staying the same, much is also changing. A huge shopping center has sprung up right by the high school, and the high school itself is going through major renovations. And then...old friends are getting married or are in the midst of being happily or unhappily married. "Change is the only constant" - so true. Just have to learn to like change!

Even my mom's interests are changing. One of her new hobbies is kayaking. She took me kayaking on Friday afternoon down the Flat River. BEAUTIFUL! It was a perfect autumn day, not too cold, not too warm. The river could have been a little bit deeper, but we were still able to go through the part we wanted without having to get out of the boats. Mom and I rescued two wooly-bear caterpillars who had attempted to commit suicide by leaping into the river. We saw snails and the remains of clams and turtles and kingfishers and great blue herons and tons of Canada geese.

Also on this trip I visited Ft. Wayne, Indiana. My good friend Sarah lives and works there, and I drove her down on Sunday. She gave me a great tour of the Ft. Wayne Children's Zoo, where she is a zookeeper. I there met a new favorite animal - the fossa, which I am now realizing is the "foosa" of the movie Madagascar, which I saw a couple weeks ago with my pals Leeann and Jimmy. They're a-maz-ing! Sleek, cute, mean-looking, agile. Quite a combination. Looks like a cross between a cat, a dog, and otter, and a squirrel. Also quite a combination. Here's a picture I stole from the University of Michigan (booooo!):

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

happy me!

Yes, it's my birthday.

And what am I doing to celebrate? Well, thus far I have:

  • Gotten to work on time

  • Given a presentation about malaria

  • Dashed to the post office when I realized my VISA payment is due tomorrow (where an old man cut in front of me!)

  • Ate left-over pizza

The point's just another day.

My charming coworkers got me a cookie cake, a fellow grad student in my lab got me a cute teddy bear and some earrings (one pair of which would make great stitch markers for knitting!), and another coworker got me a devotional/meditiations book (which I can already tell has great wisdom!). My brother called me last night to say happy birthday, Daddy emailed me to say the same, and I've gotten cards from the grandparents. Last weekend I purchased an early birthday present with some birthday money - it's lame, I know, but it's the latest expansion pack for The Sims 2. I'm totally addicted to this game...I try to play it in moderation (actually, I haven't played it in months, but when I get into it...I could be gone for hours...or days).

I'm finishing off my work at the moment, and then it's something...go to Bible study, where I am anticipating spending a great evening with my wonderful friends - and saying hi to Kevin and Jen again!

Yay for 25!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

the purple people eater and a strange combination

The knitting of the week...

Not a ton exciting here. Finished the knitting of the wine cozy.

I need to finish sewing it together before the shower Saturday.

My roommate Ren gave me some yarn she came across randomly. Blue and orange. If you're from Illinois, you know that those two colors DO go together. I'd like something else to go with them if I'm going to make anything nice out of the yarn. J Crew suggests pink (look on the left-hand side of the open catalog...yeah, under all that glare).

What do you think?

And here's finally a picture of the Harry Potter bookscarf. Photo-taking skills are really bad with this one...

Other than that, I set aside the Wave Skirt for a while - as delightful as it is to knit, the temperature dropped significantly over the weekend, so I'm not terribly hopeful about being able to wear it anytime soon (plus I need to work out making a shirt to match it and I'm having trouble finding the right color fabric; going to try to dye this weekend!). Instead, it's been the Starry Night sweater on the forefront. It's getting there.

Monday, October 10, 2005


They're back!!

I got a call from the new Mrs. Jennifer Tan last night - she and Kevin are back in the U S of A! Hooray!!

Incidentally, on Friday I got my photos developed from their wedding.

Miss Jen getting dressed.

The "altar" on the beach.

You may kiss the bride. ...And there's a lot of sunlight giving a weirdness to the photo...

A bunch of us from Pittsburgh - see the Good Bias shrug I'm sporting!! Yay!

Jen and me.

Ruth (not me) taking a picture of the newlyweds.

And, after a long, fun reception full of crazy dancing...

Ruth and Tim's one year anniversary night at the beachouse where all the groomsmen stayed. Awww.

Friday, October 07, 2005

pictures are back

I have a really bad habit of not ever developing film. I don't tend to take a whole lot of pictures, so by the time a roll is finished in the camera I can't remember what I even took pictures of! So it was certainly exciting when I got three rolls of film developed all at once.

What did I find on these rolls of film...? (Just a warning, the formatting is totally messed if you view this with Firefox.)

My sister's high school graduation - celebrating with our grandparents...

...and Mom and Dad. In 2004.

My car after being hit by a deer at 65 miles per hour (the car was going that fast).

Saying good-bye to my friend Tonia (in pink at front) before she left for Boston. (I'm the one across from Tonia looking like I'm wearing no pants.)

Tim and Ruth's wedding in Harrisburg. (I am sporting a poncho I knit for the occasion.)

Beautiful Banff, Alberta, Canada, for the Keystone Symposia.

The crew down in Jacksonville.

My friend Savanh climbing at Cooper's Rock. at Cooper's Rock. I did climb, too.


Savanh doing the splits while climbing.

Zeke and Zoe kindly sharing a catnip toy I knit them...and looking possessed because of the flash reflecting off their eyes.

Can't wait to take more pictures...and develop them!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

let down gone wrong

I must laugh at how life throws us curves, and sometimes good curves.

Yesterday was the day I've been waiting for - the recipients of the training fellowship for which I applied in September were going to be announced. My boss, after leaving the meeting where the recipients were selected, informed me that I had not been selected.

Boo. I had really wanted to get that grant, and I know I was up against good competition, but I still thought I had a pretty good application. I played it down, saying I hadn't gotten my hopes up very much, but in reality I still DID want to get the funding and, more importantly (is this bad?) the honor of receiving such an award.

It's funny how I revert back to the thinking patterns of my younger years. It was not a fortnight ago that I sat with my high school gals at the youth group I volunteer with and shared in a discussion about how girls tend to act like they can't be hurt. We say to the pretty girl, "Well, I don't want to be all obsessed with looks like you are," when in reality we know the girl ISN'T into looks, she's just naturally beautiful. Or we say "You don't like me? Well fine, I don't care, anyhow. You're not worth caring about." But we really are dying inside, thinking, "I'm not going to let anyone hurt me...I'm not going to let anyone see how I really feel." We build up these walls, we become emotionless, and that goes against the very nature of our being!

And, I became semi-bitter. I went through the list of people I was pretty sure must have gotten the fellowship spots. Yep, he's really smart, he should get one. She had good data; he's a good worker; she's got some good ideas. And one of the people I thought must have received the fellowship was one of those who's perfect. You know the kind - great in class, socialable, looks wonderful, has the wonderful significant other. The person I always try to beat out, not to satisfy some animal-like urge, but to make myself work hard enough to do better than that person who I think is the best. As I heard recently, "He/she literally made me a better person." Not that I'm the more stellar student or employee, but that without that competition, I wouldn't try so hard to do my best.

So I griped about how that particular person always got everything...I don't even know if the person actually got the fellowship, know...

And then a funny thing happened.

I checked my voice mail this morning on the bus - I'd turned the phone off before Bible study last night around 7p.m. My boss, who is in Puerto Rico for work, had left a message and said that there had been a mix up and I actually HAD received one of the fellowship positions. I was pretty sure I had heard incorrectly since I was on the bus and couldn't hear so well. But when I called the voice mail again at quiter work, it was confirmed, and it's now official.

That's what I was so let down about yesterday...and now I'm not, so that's good. But the period of thinking I was let down sure brought up some serious issues I have, wouldn't you agree? ...All occurs for a reason. Now I must get to working on how to deal with those issues. Perhaps the real let down is that, despite my ability to achieve such awards, I'm still a pretty imperfect person.

P.S. My sweet friend Su-Lin prayed last night that a great guy would become a reality in my life. Isn't she timely? *smile*