Thursday, August 31, 2006

Care and Feeding of the Grad Student

I took a nap today; it was lovely. I came home after class because I had walked out the door without the lunch I had packed earlier. I walked past Bebe Lake, where the still water above the dam mirrors the trees. Came home to a clean house, ate a hot lunch, and sat down to read. I realized after about 5 minutes that I was reading the same page over and over without comprehending any of it, and my head hurt. Hence the nap :-). I had to shush my anxiety that was whining "but I have to read or I'll get behind!" Sometimes you just need to sleep.
That's my bed in the photo, to the left of the comfy chair. At the far right you can see the corner of the desk, just above the family photos. It's a wonderful life for an introvert :-). (Although on my 4th day without Terry this week, it has been getting a little lonely...)

This afternoon I was on the docket to give a 15-minute presentation on the reading due today; afterwards someone asked me, "Have you taught before?" Uh, why do you ask? :-) I felt very validated! I realized afterwards, too, that I had worn my "professor clothes" - the standard black slacks that somehow look good no matter what I weigh at the moment, a fitted maroon top with a collar, hair in a bun. It's all about costuming, really...

I saw another knitter today! It was at the reception for minority grad students; she had a sock on wooden dpns - but ran off before I could talk to her. Terry says it was the fanatical gleam in my eye. I don't know what he's talking about, really!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I Should Be Reading

Check out the new Rocktown Yarns web site - the photo at the far upper right corner is my hands knitting a pumpkin hat, and there's a picture of me with Heidi on the "About Us" page! It's nice to be friends with the photographer :-)

Sunday, August 27, 2006


It's a wet, rainy day in Ithaca; I finished this sock this morning. Brown Sheep Company "Wildfoote" sock yarn in "Symphony." The colors are out of this world, vibrant and perfectly blended, but the texture is not as soft as some others I've used. Perhaps because it contains 25% nylon. On the other hand, it's supposed to be totally mothproof and highly washable.

Yesterday afternoon we had fun hanging out with our good friends Carol and Gordon; you must check out the links to their art galleries - we actually own a couple pieces by each of them. We had lunch in Watkins Glen, then took a side trip to see Gordon's art at Lamoreaux Landing vineyard - he'd sold 2 pieces so we were all thrilled! For dinner Gordon made a wonderful gumbo over greens from their garden (they left the okra out in deference to us non-Cajuns in the group. That would be everyone except Gordon). Taran, your names came up multiple times in the conversation - we'll have to give you a tour of the studio when you come :-)

It was a really relaxing day, which I suppose I felt somewhat entitled to after working hard all week. Terry will be gone 4 days this week so I'll have plenty of time to read when he's not around...

I'm also cooking up some fairly ambitiuos research plans for the summer :-) ... hm, I may be getting ahead of myself...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cornell by numbers

9: required texts for a course on Power and Resistance (not, as Terry thought, a course on weight training - the full course title is "Masks of Power and Strategies of Resistance and Subversion." The professor is from Iraq!)
176.28: dollars spent on said textbooks
99: number of pages read last night from first of said textbooks
15: record number of 1st-year masters and PhD students admitted to the field this year
14: number of female 1st-years
15: number of minutes walk to McGraw where the Anthropology department is located
89: number of stair steps between the suspension pedestrian bridge and the street
1: number of people who thought the dinner and orientation at the home of the Director of Graduate Studies for Anthropology was supposed to be a pot-luck; also the number of people who spent 2 hours making eggplant dip (from this book) and working up an embarrassing sweat while getting disoriented leaving her neighborhood and taking the long way around and ending up 15 minutes late... (it's all good though, the dip was a big hit and the DGS will never forget who I am!)
410: number of miles from our front door in the 'Burg to our front (i.e. back) door in Ithaca, via route 81
6.5: number of hours of actual driving time along said route, barring weather, construction, accidents, etc.
2: number of times per week, on average, Terry will be making that trip.
4: number of new friends whose digits I have saved on my cell phone
0: number of knitters among those new friends

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Say What?

"Let us therefore begin by putting aside all the facts, for they have no bearing on the question."

No, we're not talking about WMDs or the Bush administrations' environmental policies (or the Bush administration in general, for that matter) - it's a charming quote from the book I'm reading for my proseminar class - Rousseau's "Discourse on the Origin of Inequality," as translated by Donald A. Cress.

I spent the afternoon reading in the room pictured here; sheer bliss. At 4:00 stopped in order to meet an old friend, Andy Chignell, for coffee. It was (to my relief) a relaxed meeting of old friends. I can't believe it's been 10 years... Terry did not follow through with his plan to call at 4:10 and growl over the phone :-).

In knitting news, I have a couple WIPs and a few FOs (that's works in progress and finished obejcts) - sorry the photo is such poor quality.

Tonight I plan to watch the second half of "The Two Towers" and knit. Terry is in VA tonight; back tomorrow night.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Upside Down

The upside of having been a student here before:
1) I know my way around campus. Registration at Bartels Field House? Ah yes, that's where it was last time. Orientation session at Statler Auditorium? Never been there before, but Statler is where the bus stop was...
2) I am familiar with CU grad school culture. E.g.: I ran into Claire, an archaeology student and Pratchett fan whom I met at the March recruitment event. She is freaking out b/c we can't register for classes yet, and classes start on Thursday, and our Field Orientation isn't until Wednesday night... I told her about "shopping", where everyone browses courses for 2 weeks before actually deciding what they're going to take, and how it drives the professors mad. It didn't really calm her down but she noted that it seemed useful to me to have been here before...

The downside of having been a student here before:
1) I found out today that the Graduate School has been mailing a number of things to my 6-year-old Ithaca address... and the Harrisonburg address they had listed for me was Lincolnshire Drive, where I was when writing my thesis. I was relieved to be able to get my stipend check, bus pass, and fitness center membership, but it took a lot of standing in lines and explaining in order to do so.
2) I can't think of any other downside... except that half the grad students look like, well, recent undergrads. I am a good ten years older than a lot of them. Older but wiser, that's for sure. And really, there are probably just as many people my age or older who are registering. And about a gazillion international students, which is always fun!

Really, biggest upside of having been here before is the sense of belonging. It also has to do with being a 3rd or 4th generation Cornellian, walking past the dorm my grandmother lived in when she was here, being in the building next to my dad's. I read something in the local paper, a reference to people who lived in Ithaca once and spend the rest of their lives trying to get back...

Check back and see if I still feel the same once the temps drop below 50 degrees! For now I am in the honeymoon phase.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Maslow's Hierarchy

So we are all set up in the new apartment in Ithaca! Cayuga Heights, rather - it's own little village up the hill from campus. It is a lovely old neighborhood with quiet streets and burgeoning gardens.

I just had to post a few parting photos of the 'Burg - a view of downtown, as seen from Luigi's (I think part of what you see may be the Masonic temple).

I thought often about Maslow's hierarchy while packing up. Yarn, of course, factored in at a pretty basic level for me. Because I was uncertain how much room there would be in the van for everything I wanted to bring, I divided my clothes, books, and yarn into "Must Take Now," "Can Come Later," and "Maybe Eventually" piles. In the end we were amazingly able to get ALL THREE divisions into the van, thanks in no small part to Terry's amazing packing skillz! (Note that the colloquial spelling indicates that this is an eXtreme sport...)
Last night and today were spent unpacking, arranging, and putting things away. We agreed that it feels really good to have this small apartment - it could be described as simple, basic, or minimal, but it doesn't actually feel like that at all - it feels very comfortable and nice. We have so many nice things (including some lovely bon voyage gifts from Tara and Gretchen!)! Being here really makes our house in Harrisonburg seem enormous, even though it is only 1000 sq ft which is less than half the average size of a single family home in the US today (avg is 2500). This 2-room apartment is fully adequate for the two of us - it really helps redefine my sense of what is "enough." I'm so glad that Terry is supporting me in this new adventure, and that it really feels like we're doing it together.

Tomorrow orientation begins in earnest, and Monday is registration. Tuesday and Wednesday are essentially free days, so now that things are pretty settled in the apartment I should be able to get a good deal of reading done! And if I knit a few rows between chapters... well, it's stress relief, right? :-)

I'm already planning the Kishers' October visit... :-)

Live from NY, Part II

We're here! It's quite exciting! The drive was uneventful, the day lovely. We worked up a sweat moving some furniture out of the apt. into the basement (maneuvering the bed frame that was here through several narrow doors was a feat of geometric genius) and unloading the van. I would be happy to put the furniture just about anywhere but Terry likes to maximize the space so we have yet to finesse it and finalize the placement. Well, have to run I suppose... Love to all!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

For Now

This week I keep thinking "this is the last time I . . . for now!" Here is a snapshot of now -

What I am reading:

The one on the left is the first required text for the proseminar class. It is not, as Terry snidely suggested, an epithet for someone I dated a long time ago!

The one on the right is just for fun - a novel about academic life that rings all too true at times...

What am I knitting? Alas, no pictures! I'm pretty much done with Christmas, moving on to birthdays! No sneak peeks! :-)

I also had a couple micro-insights today: 1) hot, soapy water works wonders. Especially on spilled molasses in the fridge. 2) I must actually like moving, otherwise would I do it so often?

For an amazing array of fruit/veg hats see this link (scroll down past the birthday party!):

Friday, August 11, 2006

Story of a Hat

So Tuesday night, I went to Community Stitch Night at the LYS, where I showed Heidi et al my first strawberry hat. (Yes, the one I was knitting in the hammock). I was disatisfied with it, because it was just too long - it looked out of proportion. But if I tried to roll the brim up higher, the green strands between the "seeds" would show unbecomingly. So, I had this brilliant idea that I would just snip a thread about 2" from the bottom edge, unravel to the bottom, pick up the live stitches, and the re-knit the brim upside down using a picot trim. Brilliant!
Someone, I don't even know who, said, "Why don't you run a life-line through first?" Ah yes... genius! I actually used a circular needle to pick up stitches all the way around, BEFORE snipping the yarn. THEN I began to unravel.
When I was finished unravelling, I transferred the live stitches to my trusty DPNs and commenced knitting the trim. The last picture shows the sewing of the edge to make the picot thingies. The result? Immense satisfaction. Here is my fruit/veg/berry garden. Can you identify: strawberry, eggplant, blueberry, raspberry, and pumpkin? I bet you never saw a raspberry the size of a pumpkin before...! Last night I gave them all (plus 3 not pictured) to Tracey for the Farmer's Market. The saddest part of love is saying goodbye...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Transition (with lots of links)

Moving day is 10 days away; Friday is my last day at the office. The first real sign of transition occured this morning: I gave away a house plant. This Peace Lily was given to us by Doug and Cristina as a graduation gift when I finished my MS in 2001; it was in a pot about 10" in diameter. It has been tended by various Star Trek people* while we were on cross-cultural; sunburned when we moved to our new home on Willow St.; repotted many times as it has grown; now I have found it a new home at BBBS where my successor will actually look after it. The leaves hold a story in my mind, the old burnt-edged ones from a dry spell when no one watered it, the sunburned ones, and the fresh new ones that came out just as soon as the weather (and our house) warmed up. The plant's departure from our home is a portent of things to come, and gives me butterflies. It didn't seem real until today.

*Last night Terry and I were at the usual Monday night gathering to watch a taped episode of DS9. 3-year-old Simon looked around the room and, pointing at each person, said "Her, and he, and he, and he, and her, and you, and me, are all Star Trek people!" Not highly explanatory, but very charming.

Monday, August 07, 2006

(part of) the Phelps clan

Tractor Wave

The Tractor Wave is a ritual of the Jantzi clan of Au Gres, Michigan, hearkening back to the agrarian roots of this tribe. Although now primarily urban dwellers, these Mennonite Christians recall the mechanized farming days of yore. Congregated at the site where the original Will and Rose Jantzi household was formed in the middle of the last century, an inter-generational group of relatives from various branches of the clan mimic the stance of a farmer driving his tractor and lifting a hand to wave at a passing person or vehicle. The presence of a canine is not essential to the ritual, but is felt to enhance the authenticity of the moment. Thus the values and beliefs of the elder generation is passed on to the young, and the collective memory of the tribe is reinforced in a physical narrative.

It was a fun, relaxing reunion where more sleep than knitting occured (and given that I finished a sock and a half, plus two baby hats, tells you just how much sleeping occured!!!)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I obviously don't have enough work to do...

You Are a Mermaid

You are a total daydreamer, and people tend to think you're flakier than you actually are.
While your head is often in the clouds, you'll always come back to earth to help someone in need.
Beyond being a caring person, you are also very intelligent and rational.
You understand the connections of the universe better than almost anyone else.


I am thrilled to report that I met my quota of one fruit/veg hat per day while in NY! Eggplant (pictured below), strawberry (see previous post), pumpkin, and raspberry. See if I can keep up the pace in Michigan! :-)I think I caught Reuben and Sophia's cold...
We got in at 3 am last night and I was at work at 9 this morning.
I added some photos to Monday's post.

Here is what I am missing right now: