Friday, January 28, 2011

...and touch the face of God.

My fifth and sixth grade science teacher was Mrs. Cackley. She was a great teacher, the kind almost everyone likes. She was on the young side of middle age, trim and active. She was enthusiastic about teaching and had little trouble controlling her classes. She was tragically widowed and openly shared with us her experiences of watching her husband as he was electrocuted while sandblasting their boat. She was unapologetically religious is that way that just made her a really nice, compassionate person. Yet she was not overly prudish -- during an anatomy lesson she called testicles "balls" so we would know without question what she was talking about -- and let us giggle a bit. A few years after she was no longer my teacher, she remarried and I went to her wedding on my own because I just thought so much of her and I wanted to see her happy. Then later she moved away because her new husband, a pastor, was called to a new church. I've never seen her again -- I don't even know if she's still alive -- but I've thought of her often.

There's a reason I tell you this.

I was a sophomore in high school, in Spanish class. It was a small section, I think there were only twelve of us. I was wearing a red paisley flannel shirt. The counsellor knocked on the door, came in and gave the teacher, Mrs. Dietrich, a piece of paper. We watched her read it and watched her face change and her hand go to her throat. Apparently the note said not to make an announcement, not to disrupt class but Mrs. Dietrich, bless her heart, couldn't do it. She told us that there had been a problem with the space shuttle launch and that Challenger had exploded and all aboard were lost. It was sickening. I don't remember how the rest of the day went; I don't even remember how the rest of Spanish class went. I do remember seeing the crash replayed on the television in the library, which had been set up so some people could watch the launch in real time. I remember some of the girls were crying. They were thinking of the astronauts and particularly of Krista McAuliffe. I was thinking of her, too, but mostly I was thinking about Mrs. Cackley.

When the program began, the call went out for nominations for the first non-astronaut. It was to be a teacher, with an emphasis on science teachers. I was so excited when I heard about it. I knew the perfect candidate -- Mrs. Cackley! She probably wasn't too old, she took great care of herself -- she would be great! And I could think of no one who could better translate an experience like that into a first-rate education opportunity. I went so far as to write a draft of a nomination letter. Eventually I decided that the odds were stacked against her -- they wouldn't pick a teacher from such a small, rural place. They would want someone to take their experiences back to a big school within a large population base. Or maybe the chosen candidate wouldn't return to a regular classroom at all, but start out on the lecture circuit going from school to school all over the country a giving presentations at all-school assemblies. That was all probably true but, in all honesty, high school and teenage life got in the way and I set it aside. In the end, I never mailed the letter.

Twenty-five years ago today, I was never so glad that I failed to follow through. But I knew somewhere there were students who had followed through and had just watched their beloved Mrs. McAuliffe flash brilliantly in the sky and just... cease. I knew I wouldn't have been able to deal with that.

Whenever the subject of Challenger comes up, I see the explosion in my mind's eye and the astronauts walking in slow motion towards the shuttle like they show on the news these days. But even though those images are burned into my memory, they're big, abstract things that seem very far away. The things that really make my heart hurt are the thought that it might have been Mrs. Cackley -- I wanted it to be her! -- and the look on Mrs. Dietrich's face when she read the note. Because those were my teachers -- the ones that had a direct effect on my life. That's close to home. That's real. That's why they started a Teacher In Space program to begin with.

I hope you're well, Mrs. Cackley. I hope you've had a rich, wonderful 25 years. I'm so glad you've had them.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Well, today is the day! Twenty years ago my fiance came to my workplace and told me he had just received his orders to join his National Guard unit for immediate deployment as part of Operation Desert Storm. I told my boss (who happened to be Gator's best friend) that I was leaving for the day and Gator and I went to the courthouse and got married. The judge who married us was hearing an apparently protracted case and he called a recess so he could perform the ceremony. He left the courtroom saying, "I'm sorry, I have something better to do." It was a palimony case. Thanks, Judge Bruce Normile. We're still going strong.

Also, Happy Birthday Aunt Judy, Laura, Curt and Mori. Lot's of good stuff happened on this day. :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ten on Tuesday!

I'm going to try out this Ten on Tuesday thing. Basically it's a blog fodder generator wherein one is given a topic each week and then one lists ten things that apply. A huge chunk of Blogdom plays and so one can flit about the blogosphere and see what everybody has to say about the same topic.

I was going to start last week but the topic wasn't very interesting to me, so I didn't start out too well. We'll see how often I play.

Without further ado...

Ten on Tuesday -- 10 Favorite Games from Childhood

(This may rapidly fall into the category of oversharing. Or just explaining why I am the way I am...)

1. Careful -- Never heard of it? I'm not surprised. I've never encountered a person outside of my family who has any idea what this is. And we never called it "Careful" (at least I didn't), I always called it "The tower game! The tower game! I wanna play the tower game!" Oh, I was a joy to every babysitter I ever had...

2. Don't Break the Ice -- My cousin, Chris (to be referenced many times herein), had this game and I couldn't get enough of it. In fact, he gave it to me for Christmas one year and I was never so happy to get a hand-me-down gift. Gator and I still play it (a new copy -- alas I don't know what happened to the original one).

3. Payday -- Life was okay, Monopoly got annoying really fast, but I always loved Payday. One summer my neighbor, Kelly, and I played it about 4,583 times.

4. Five Card Draw -- Mom sometimes played bridge in the evenings and left me home with Dad. I wanted to play games. Well, Dad knew how to play poker, so he taught me. I was maybe six. It was a while before I realized it wasn't "Jacks are better". In fact, it may have been a little while before I realized it wasn't "Jaxxerbedder". Which may have explained why it took me a while to catch on...

5. How Dare You Push Me Into the Pool -- A cousin Chris original. Small hill between Grandma's house and the neighbor, Mr. Fisher's, yard. Crouch on top of hill. Take turns saying, "How dare you push me in the pool!!" with your most outrageous indignant accent while being pushed down the hill by the other player. Hilarity ensues. Cousin swears he has no memory of this. He's five years older than me and I remember it perfectly. Pants on fire, there, cuz?? ;)

6. Go to the Head of the Class -- I had a bunch of my sisters' old games (see #1) and this one was another fave. I loved the thick cardboard pupil-head markers but as I often didn't have anyone to play the game with, I mostly just begged Mom to read questions to me out of the book.

7. Feds 'N' Heads -- Ah, the innocence of youth. Aforementioned neighbor, Kelly, had older brothers. One of them had this game that came as an insert in Playboy magazine. I had no idea what it was about at the time (Maybe gangsters? There was something about getting caught with a bag of oregano, and that was a good thing...), but I came to find out later that it was about... drugs. I just thought it was a fun and funny game. Also I just found out that you can download and print out the entire game here.

8. The Brain -- More of a puzzle, I realize. See #6 where, boo hoo, little Sus played by herself a lot. She didn't mind at all when she had cool things that didn't require 2-4 players like this little gem. My oldest sister gave it to me for Christmas one year and I got so fast and good at it that I could do it over and over without even thinking while watching TV. I still have it and I'm still pretty fast. Muscle memory is an amazing thing.

9. Clean Machine -- Another Cousin Chris original. He had a beefy, muscly, "real"-haired G.I. Joe of much toughness. I had... a fifties Ken doll with a somewhat sunken chest and a painted-on crew cut (yes, it was my sister's). They battled and the loser had to be thrown into a mud puddle. Aside from being able to tell just by looking at them, Ken always lost because (as my cousin's rule declared) the mud puddle would ruin G.I. Joe's hair. We played it all the time (when there were mud puddles) and I remember liking to play it immensely. I just can't figure out why...

10. TV Shows -- Charlie's Angels and, more importantly, The Bionic Woman. OMG. Another neighbor, Marla, and I had an elaborate Bionic Woman story arc with an arch nemesis named Mrs. Octopus who was very powerful and scary and lived in Marla's closet. Yeah, we ran in the house, but we ran in slow motion and with sound effects.

So there you go. They ask for ten games and instead you learn 10 things about me that you didn't want to know. Wonder how much I can disturb you next week!

Friday, January 14, 2011

FO Friday!

As promised, I'm jumping back on the alliterative horsey to bring you a Finished Object Friday post!

I've been wearing my Last Minute Purled Beret pretty consistently. It's colorful, it's cute (especially since the blocking eased out and it no longer looks as much like a Guinan hat), and it goes with pretty much everything. But it's not as warm as I would like. And it has been cold lately. It's not Wisconsin down here or anything, but a high of 13F is pretty chilly wherever you are. So I wanted a meatier hat. But, you know, cute. Oh, and ear covering was of utmost importance.

So allow me to introduce my Spicy (the color) Capucine! Super cute, super thick and warm, and good ear coverage. A winner all around! Even if my co-workers now call me everything from Amish Girl to Little Red Riding Hood. Hee!

Capucine by Adela Illichmanova
Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in Spice
Size US11 straight and double point needles

So now I'm very inspired to finish Gator's purple hat so he can enjoy some warm-ear new hat love, too! Off I go!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

WIP... Thursday?

It's happened! It's happened! I finished all my gifty Works In Progress (except for the one that was a dismal failure and I gave up and frogged -- No, Sis, not that one!) and I've been being selfish!!!

Goal #3 of the new year well under way! (For the record, goal #2 is probably going fine, as well, but I won't bore you with the "Today, I did some sit-ups" post.)

So I finished the gifty things (which I can't show you until they are received, and for one of them may be a bit) and as soon as I was done, I cast on a new project! And the next night I cast on another new project! And the next night I finished the second project and cast on a third project! So much activity!

That means that I have two new WIPs to show you! And I know you can't wait, because they are ridiculous. Yes, they're cast on and thus qualify as WIPs, but, well, have a look for yourself:

Yeah. I know. There's not much to show. The red up top is going to be the Woolly Bully bag and below is the beginning of a Snowboarder Hat That Rocks! Yes, those are purple earflaps you see there. And, yes, since it's purple, it must be for Gator. :)

I know I mentioned a project I finished, but that makes it a Finished Object and no longer a WIP, and tomorrow is Friday, and since I botched the alliterative WIP Wednesday, the least I can do is go for an FO Friday! Hee.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Hungry Like the Scarf

2011 is off to a roaring start! Things have been busy at work, I've been a little handworking bee, and a new design idea is percolating in my wee brain (though I'm not even swatching it until these UFOs are done). I've managed to keep my first goal of the new year, as well, so I'm calling the first week of '11 a success. :)

Earlier (read: last year) I promised some pics of the only FO I have right now that I can actually show you. (Yes, I'm still gift crocheting things from last year. It happens.) I actually started this last February and only finished on Christmas Eve. It's kind of my year-long Christmas present to myself. It's not fancy at all. It's the ubiquitous Baktus scarf that 5100 other people on Ravelry are sporting these days. Good, mindless TV knitting. Yes, it's just a triangle. I said it wasn't fancy. But I did take it outside on a pretty day and try to get decent photos of it. I even tried to be artsy and everything.

Yes, I know; I failed. Although the sky is blue and clear and the sun was shining, it was cold and windy and this was the best I could do before I said screw it. I did manage to get a shot of it on me before my fingers froze completely off.

Baktus by Strikkelise
Zitron Trekking XXL in colorway 333 (brown/purple) with US2 needles

No, it's not fancy, but it's warm and it goes with everything. I'm very pleased with it. It's got me very excited to get to all the delicious selfish projects I have lined up. Including that new design I'm working out in my head... Mwahahaha!

This afternoon, Christmas is coming down. I listened to Christmas carols while I put everything up, but the piped-in music at HyVee this morning has got me in the mood for some serious Duran... You all just wish you could see the interpretative dance that's going to accompany this little task!

No, no you probably don't. ;)

Monday, January 03, 2011

It occurs to me...


visited 40 states (80%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

visited 10 states (4.44%)
Create your own visited map of The World

Not that I'm all like, "I must go to Michigan!!" (Not that there's anything wrong with Michigan, mind you.) But it is very weird that some of the states I haven't been to are (technically) in the Midwest. And while I know I've been fortunate enough to see more of the world than many people get to, I still want more. There's the entire southern hemisphere and most of the eastern, after all. (I know this map makes it look like I've been all through the eastern hemisphere, what with Russia curving around half the globe like it does, but I promise I was waaaaay over in Europe the whole time.)

So yeah. New goal for this decade. At least hit the rest of the freaking United States, already. And Nunavut. I don't know why, but I'm dying to go there. It didn't even exist when I learned all the provinces and territories in middle school. So to me it's new and shiny and I want to see it. And I will try to get to Asia or Australia or Argentina or even some place that doesn't start with "A" that represents a part of the globe I have not yet encountered. That one may be more difficult.

For now, Michigan will have to do. Maybe next year.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Happy New Year, or Thank God That's Over

It's a new year! I have plans and a vision and this year is going to be awesome!

Okay, I know that this is just the kind of annoying New Year talk that lasts about a week -- a month if you're really lucky -- and then is thrown aside and turns into the regular old midwinter blahs. Been there done that. But this year might be a teensy bit different in that over the years I've learned to tailor my plans and vision to something sustainable. And this year I'm hanging on to my goal with every fiber of my being.

Yes, this year I have plans and a vision of not crashing into the lab with a golf cart and breaking the front of the building. At this point, anything that does not involve doing that again would qualify as awesome.

Oh, it's a tired old saw, I know. You try to take the golf cart down to the parking lot to collect your co-worker who has blown out her knee so she doesn't have to walk all the way to the building, but it's really cold and the golf cart is acting weird and doesn't want to go and then it goes all of a sudden and you go to stop it but your foot hits the wrong pedal but you don't know it and you can't figure out why you're not stopping and so you floor it and then you run straight into the front of the building and the tires are still spinning because you still can't figure out why you haven't stopped and Oh God, the facility manager is crazy about his golf cart and what have you done to it so you get out and check and it is perfect -- pristine -- and then you turn and look at the building and the wall of windows in front of you is now about four inches east of where it was when you started. And the door to the building is twisted and won't close. Oh, and about a dozen guys from facilities management had just gotten there to run some tests on the generator and fans and they're all standing there looking at you. So you smile and wave. I mean, why not? Then you run to the bathroom and cry. Sorry, co-worker, you have to walk up on crutches after all.

So that was my last Wednesday. How was yours?

Yes, my goals this year are simple. No repeat of that, and I'm a happy girl. When, exactly, did it come to this?

By the way, the building is fixed now. The fixing was a little ridiculous itself -- some guys came and kicked it back into place. Yes, Missouri tax dollars build only the best. Oh, and for those of you concerned -- since I do work in a biocontainment facility -- this was just the front of the lobby area that broke. Beyond that room is where the steel and concrete begins. So, yay for that. But still. ::facepalm::

Actually, I do have a couple more goals for this year, but they're not nearly as interesting.
  1. Get stronger -- Physically, I mean. And I'm not quantifying "stronger". Just stronger than I am right now will be fine. I'll work on it and do the best I can. Just stronger.
  2. Be selfish -- Okay, some of you are totally rolling your eyes right now and thinking, "Oh, yeah, Sus, that is just what you need to do, sweetie." Let my qualify -- this is about handwork, people. Last year was a lot about making things for other people. Which is fine! I like making things for other people! I do! But this year, I'm making stuff for us. I have a queue a mile long of things Gator and/or I would like to have -- or need, really -- that I have the materials and the means to make, but I don't have the time because I've always got deadline handwork. Not so much this year. I've got two things to finish up in the next couple of weeks and then it's all us for awhile. The world will keep turning and everything.

So, that's it. My hopes for 2011. They get more humble every year. Funny, I get happier every year. Related? Gee, you think? ;)

Love and blessings to you all in the new year! Hugs all around!!