freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
[personal profile] freckles_and_doubt
You know, it's one thing to be unhappy with your job, to be exhausted and underpaid and feeling exploited by the giant unfeeling bureaucracy. Then at the end of the day you arrive back to your car, which is legally parked in the correct bay for the vast sums you are paying for the privilege and which you have secured in the teeth of heavy odds by unremitting alertness and arriving at work half an hour early, to discover that the noxious instruments of the traffic department have ticketed you for parking facing the wrong way. (Which you do so that you don't have to turn the car around in the middle of herds of students when you leave). And everything you already feel about the giant unfeeling bureaucracy crowds into your head at once, and you have a panic attack. And will pay the bloody ticket on a cold day in hell, may I add. Sod lawful good, anyway.

And it's one thing to be unhappy with your boss, who is a managerialist drone of the most committee-spawning, policy-generating order, and who runs the faculty with Machiavellian politics and in the apparent sublime belief that she's managing robotic work units rather than actual people, and is miffed when they demonstrate human responses and leave. And then you walk out of a meeting with her to realise, in retrospect, that she's just tried to nobble the processes of a selection committee on which you're sitting by asking you to influence its decisions to exclude possible applicants who have crossed her by, as aforementioned, previously working in the faculty office and then resigning on account of the clusterfuck over which she's been presiding. And you reel slightly, and develop a raging headache, and quietly shop her to the deputy dean. Because it transpires that using lawful good in the cause of evil is bizarrely satisfying, particularly when it's to righteously smite the ungodly.

It was a lovely long weekend, which is fortunate because after all of the above transpiring last week, I was a bit stunned and unable to parry. We had Christmas in July in August in September on Sunday night, with the requisite three-course co-operative meal including Polish barszcz, for which I have an unholy fondness. I had a very pleasant lunch with my sister and niece yesterday and derived surprising amounts of enjoyment both from unleashing said niece on the kitten; and from unleashing on said niece, who is a willowy creature of a dozen summers, the large reproachful pile of quirky t-shirts I have incautiously acquired off the internets in sizes several too small for my middle-aged torso. She is now wearing a variety of wols, some of them of the Doctorly ilk, and a number of web-comics-based obscure in-jokes she seemed to rather enjoy once contextualised. (She now has Yolo wols and Pangea reunion tour and loves Nosferatu doesn't share his toffees! My work here is done!). I take joy in being a Subversive Aunt.

But it was too short, the long weekend, because now I'm back at work. Current vague impetus is to see if I can utterly destroy the evil boss's career before I flee the university for another career entirely. It'll be a hobby.
kareina: (Default)
[personal profile] kareina
I spent 1 hour and 40 minutes this afternoon in a skype call with my potential supervisor for my second PhD project. She really wants me to apply, and tells me that I am the best candidate for the position. We finally decided that I will be studying Viking Age Soapstone Vessels for my project, and I have till Friday to complete the project proposal and turn in my application. We also agreed that, assuming all goes well with this project then we can apply for funding for the other projects, in turn. We are both thinking in terms of long term collaboration, with me based in Luleå. Needless to say, I am pretty excited about all this.

Just after she and I said goodbye my apprentice arrived, and we bounced together about this, and then she tuned the moraharpa and I tuned the dulcimer, and then we packed up both instruments, loaded them into the car, and went and picked up my other Masters student and my acroyoga partner and went to Nyckleharpa night (David couldn't make it this time, he had a work meeting that went till 19:00, and was followed by a company provided restaurant meal and yet more work related conversation). I played along on the few tunes I know, looked at the sheet music I have painted, but haven't yet tried playing for a couple of others, and the rest of the time worked on the hood in progress for the Norrskensbågskytt (Northern light's archer)--now most of the northern-lights patterned tablet weaving has been sewn to the hood. After music Siv showed me her progress on her viking costume for Norrskensfesten, it will be beautiful, and Birger showed me the tablet weaving he has been doing, which is also beautiful. I am so delighted that they are joining us for the full event this year. They are such delightful people.

And lo, such a thing exists

Sep. 21st, 2017 08:52 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

As much as I thought it might not, time is starting to assume its normal course.  The days are starting to be the length that I expect them to be, not stretching out in front of me like a desert I didn’t bring enough water to get across.  For a while there I had to be so busy just to fill those days up. Walking, riding, swimming, cleaning, organizing… if I stopped too long and tried to do something like write or knit then I had too many of those pesky feelings all at once and had to clean out another damn closet. Now I’m mostly okay as long as I don’t think about how Thanksgiving is in two and a half weeks and I really don’t know how to manage that holiday if I can’t have it with my mother and where do we have dinner now for all the holidays and really I’m going to have to move because my dining room can’t hold everyone and… see. There it goes.  I’ll worry about that next week when it might not result in having to clean all the grout in the house with an old toothbrush after jogging 3km.

The point, before I started worrying again, was that things are okay enough now (oh man who is going to make the pies) that as long as I stay sorted, I can knit, and it feels like it helps a lot, and what’s really interesting is that this idea, that once the shock passes, that knitting is going to be a really useful way through grief… It’s not just me who thinks it. My inbox (thank you, thank you, thank you for the wonderful notes and letters and thoughts, I am reading them all, even if I can’t answer) is chock full (okay there are five) people who have written to me not just to suggest that knitting would be helpful (because there are a lot more than five of you who think that) but to call the kind of knitting they think would be helpful “Grief Knitting.”  These charming knitters have even gone so far as to cite the specific projects that they think would be the most helpful, and you know what’s interesting? They have a lot in common.

All the projects are challenging – challenging from the perspective of that particular knitter, for sure, but challenging none the less. They were kinda tricky for the knitter to complete, and they took up some of that scary mental energy that comes with grief. (Oh no mum always makes the turnips too.) All the projects are things that sparked a tremendous amount of joy and pride – the knitters think what they made was beautiful, and feel that they did a good job… and finally (here’s where it gets weird.) All of the projects but for one, were for babies.

Think about that. It’s a pretty compelling bit of information, and it makes me feel better that the two things I’ve knit since my mum died are both tiny things.  First the little hat, and now Elliot is bedecked in a matching sweater.

gussweater 2017-09-21

It’s beautiful to be sure – the yarn is Northampton, but with a bit of a twist. It was the natural colour, but I gave it to Judith to dye at the last Strung Along retreat, and it went for a swim in her indigo pot.  It’s a beautiful blue now, and reminds me of her when I look at it, which is really quite nice, and it suits Elliot pretty well.

wholegus 2017-09-21

The pattern is Gus, and here’s where it didn’t quite fit the bill to be Grief Knitting, it was pretty easy.  The pattern’s well written – so I didn’t struggle with anything at all.  I’ll have to try something from a less competent designer next.

gussweater2 2017-09-21

I tell you this, even unfinished (which it technically is, I’m waiting for the buttons) it does spark a tremendous amount of Joy.  Part of it is that little face, and the other part?  It is the pockets. I can’t tell you how much I love pockets on a baby sweater. It gives me an unreasonable amount of happiness to think of two perfect, tiny pockets, in a proper, handy spot… all for someone who has absolutely nothing to put in them.

pocketsgus 2017-09-21

Delightful.

freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
[personal profile] freckles_and_doubt
I am apparently at a stage in my personal and professional development where I can, calmly and quietly, spent the better part of half an hour gently talking down the angry student protest leader who has come into my office to discuss his options in dropping a course. Not that he was overtly angry, it's more a sort of subliminal, simmering rage and outrage, but even with no voices raised and no overt threats I am still shaking gently in a startled-deer-trembling-in-the-bushes sort of manner, and it's half an hour after his departure. There is something a little troubling about presenting the rules as they apply to a particular curriculum decision, and being told flatly that he will not accept that, the rule is unfair to black students and will therefore be ignored. Also, that if the VC's office doesn't rule favourable on a particular outstanding issue tangentially related to the query, said angry student protest leader will be referring it back to the student body for action. I suppose I misspoke when I said there were no overt threats, actually.

The problem wasn't even the anger and denial of the rules, really. The problem was the half hour, which was the length of time it took me to get into his head the actual implications of the request he was making. It's as if the political bubble insulates him so absolutely from the world (or at least from the ideologically suspect upper echelons of the illegitimate institution) that the actual logic of the response can't permeate. I am also by this stage very good at reining in my somewhat characteristic high-speed polysyllabic babble, and I don't think it was me. It's just that my explanations were occurring in counterpoint to the polyphonic political debate going on in his own head.

I am very tired and have a headache, but he left enlightened and actually smiling, so score one for me. My subject line is from the Magnetic Fields, "I Die", but I promise it's not at that stage yet.

possible topics for that 2nd PhD

Sep. 21st, 2017 10:51 am
kareina: (BSE garnet)
[personal profile] kareina
In an attempt to narrow down my choices, I have gone through all of the emails my potential supervisor and I have exchanged, and taken notes. I think this is everything we have discussed:

* We are looking at doing some sort of Provenance study using Laser-Ablation ICP-MS plus or minus other analytical techniques, plus or minus experimental archaeology.

* We have narrowed down the area of interest to be Scandinavia, with a possible emphasis on Swedish objects, plus or minus Faroe Islands, Island, and/or Greenland.

* We have narrowed down the time period to be Viking age (or earlier) (though Medieval has also been mentioned).

* We have mentioned the following types of objects, and I should choose only one as the focus of the project:

* Lead spindle whorls
* Steatite spindle whorls
* Steatite cooking vessels
* Glass vessels
* Glass in Viking beads
* Garnet in Viking beads
* Garnet in other jewelry

In baby steps it goes forward

Sep. 19th, 2017 11:03 pm
kareina: (BSE garnet)
[personal profile] kareina
I am making tiny progress on preparing my application for a 2nd PhD through the University of Durham. Today I actually started filling in the on-line application form, so that the basics are ready when I finally have my project proposal and budget ready to attach. I have exchanged a number of letters with my potential advisor, who has written to various people in her network and forwarded me their replies. She sent me a copy of a very interesting PhD thesis by one of her colleagues who studied "war booty" from the Roman Iron Age, using LA-ICP-MS to study the weapons that had been deposited in a heap in a lake. What really amazed me about his thesis is that he did his data processing by hand, in a spreadsheet, since his department didn't have a licence for a program like iolite, which is what I use for my LA-ICP-MS data processing.

I also looked at the web page for the Swedish student financial aid people. It looks like it is possible for me to get a stipend from them to study in the UK, but only until I am 57, so I had better do it now and not wait. The stipend isn't huge, but it will make a difference in paying for lab work and possibly even getting to Durham now and then to actually see my advisor in person.

The only reason I don't already have a project proposal is that there are too many cool project ideas that we have been tossing back and forth at one another. The good news is that I will enjoy whatever project we settle on, the bad news is that I can only pick one. garnets? glass? soapstone? beads? cooking toys? Something Viking Age, anyway, and using Swedish artifacts. That much we know.

Some of you who have been reading this since I first got hired to run the LA-ICP-MS lab might remember that while waiting for the delivery of the machines I had contacted some archaeologists in Uppsala wondering if they might be interested in doing some collaborative research on some garnet-bearing sword hilts etc. It turns out that my potential advisor knows them, and is good friends with one of them.

The more letters we exchange, the more convinced I am that this is a chance of a lifetime, and I should go for it.

And, to make things even better, AMT was fun tonight, as always! I love the gymnastics training. Never mind that I am the worst kid in the class, I am showing improvement every week, and enjoying it.

I stopped by an open house today--one of the houses in our neighbourhood is for sale--the third since we bought our place (if you count ours). That house is slightly older than ours (1964 vs '66), not as big, weirdly laid out (who sets it up so that one has to go through the kitchen into and then through a bedroom to get to the garage and laundry area? Why did they take off the back door? They also have much, much, much less land than we have--just a small yard suitable for little kids to play in. I am so happy we got the house we did. The highlight of the house was a wall mounted can-opener in the kitchen, that, from the look of it, must have been put up when the house was brand new. but probably hasn't been used in years, since most "canned" food in Sweden comes in cardboard boxes, and those few items that are in metal cans have a self-opening lid.

a nice, easy day

Sep. 17th, 2017 10:21 pm
kareina: (Default)
[personal profile] kareina
Didn't get as much done as I had planed, due to an unexpected 2.5 hour nap after lunch (and thus didn't manage to get out the door on time to go to folk music), but I made some progress on my great colour-coding of sheet music to make it easier to learn to play the songs on the dulcimer project.

I had much fun at folk dance class tonight. A couple of my friends who normal play folk music and don't dance have decided to start dancing with us, and I am delighted that they did. Then I came home and checked registrations for Norrskensfesten, and we had two new sign up since yesterday--one is a friend from the Helsinki area of Finland, who is pretty much always playing music at events, so he will be a delightful addition to the event.

Does anyone know where to find "saved drafts" on Dreamwidth? When I pushed the "post" button a bit ago the page asked me "would you like to restore from a saved draft?" and gave me the title of yesterday's post (plenty of newcomers), and I was confused, as I remember actually posting that. I went to another tab, checked, and the post doesn't show, so I returned to the first tab, intending to click "yes" to the question, but it had vanished, and I can't find any buttons anywhere to find the draft...

I love Fridays!

Sep. 15th, 2017 09:54 pm
kareina: (Default)
[personal profile] kareina
The best part about working half-time is that I get Fridays off (why work five 4-hour days, when I can work four 5-hour days?). This means that I get an extra day on the weekend to accomplish whatever needs doing. Today I:

*washed my bed sheets and underwear
*cleaned out the gutters on the house (boy, did that need doing)
*put the deck furniture into the shed for the winter (we are into rainy autumn weather now, we probably won't need it again before the snow flies)
*cooked a yummy lunch for myself (kale, broccoli, zucchini, broad beans, carrot, garlic, alfalfa sprouts, almonds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, eggs, butter, and a hint of curry spices)
*made a bread dough to bake tomorrow for the Frostheim picnic
*read an amazing short story (if you haven't read it yet, read the prequil first)
*cooked 7 liters of black currants down to 3.5 liters of jam
*finished the painting on the bridges of my hammer dulcimer
*vacuumed

By the time I was done with that it was 17:00 and David was home from work, so we carried the extra desk downstairs, where it will have its top replaced with Caroline's nice table top before it is taken to the apartment so they will have a pretty table, with raise-lower legs. Then our friends Birger and Siv from the Luleå Hembygdsgille dropped by for a visit, and I showed her some of the wool fabric I have left after having used some for costumes for me, and she liked both the brown/indigo wool and the light blue/grey wool twill enough that she bought both. She plans to make a viking dress before Norrskensfesten to go with the broaches she bought at the Lofotr viking museum in Lofoten this summer. (I really need to go back there!)

After they left and David went to the other house took the time to clean up, package up the jam into plastic containers for the freezer, and then sat down to the computer to tell the world (via FB) how wonderful the story I read today was. Seriously, while I love all of [personal profile] hrj's writing, Hyddwen (and Hoywverch, which I read on Wednesday) were even more my cup of tea than usual. I think it was the delightful blend of very traditional story telling and classic tropes with a powerful loving relationship of a sort which might have been unexpected in such a time period, but instead felt totally natural, normal, and right. I wish I had read this story while still in high school. Sadly, she hadn't gotten around to writing it that long ago.

After that I updated the Norrskensfesten spreadsheet to show the latest registrations, and worried for a bit because we have only 22 people registered so far. Then I checked last year's spreadsheet, and as of 15 September we had only 21 people registered, but by the time the event happened that had grown to 100 people, so perhaps we will yet get enough to cover the cost of the hall (not that it truly matters--Frostheim can afford the site if we don't, but it is nice if an event doesn't lose money). Of course, the fact that this year the event is two weeks earlier than last year means that I can't really compare the same date, but I am trying to let these numbers comfort me anyway, since worry never helps.

Now I should do my yoga, gather a few things to bring to the picnic tomorrow (especially wool, as it is likely to rain, at least some), and get some sleep.

Well that’s just unfair

Sep. 14th, 2017 09:38 pm
[syndicated profile] yarn_harlot_feed

Posted by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Yesterday I finally shook my head clear of the fog it’s been in, and decided that it was time to get myself in gear.  I went to the grocery store. I planned a good dinner. I cooked that dinner, and I fed it to people I love.  I managed to say something vaguely supportive to a friend, and when the lady in the queue ahead of me in the shop was annoyed about how many bruises were on the apples she’d chosen, I somehow magnificently managed not to say anything that even remotely suggested that her problems were totally ridiculous to me (and should be to her) unless they involved a dead mother.

I even sat down to work for a little bit – to start getting caught up on the chaos that is my work life.  That’s right, my mum’s been dead two weeks, almost to the hour, and I just yesterday managed to acknowledge that I have to earn a living, and contribute meaningfully to the charity I’ve promised my time to, and I did that.  I sat down, thought something like “C’mon Steph, get it together” and moments later, my laptop had a complete seizure and suffered a fatal stroke. I’ve had that beast since 2011, I planned the first Sock Summit on it, that’s how old it is, and now is when it leaves me.  It’s a joke, I tell you. I can only assume that it was depressed by the goings-on around here and decided there was nothing left to hang on for.  (It was wrong. I swear I was pulling my scene together.)  I took it as a sign, a sign that I was supposed to be knitting, and set about making our wee Elliot a hat. (This is Canada. Winter is coming. Winter is always coming.) I’d had my eye on this Garter Ear Flap hat from Purl Soho for ages, and I had some MadelineTosh DK (so aptly called “Happiness”, which is just what I’m looking for) and a little math and whammo – that pattern works just fine.

IMG_7593

It’s sweet as pie, actually, and Meg put it on him after dinner (that’s a lie. I rammed it on his wee head so fast it made his head spin around) and we both agreed it made him look properly like a gnome, and cackled about that for some time.  (There is a very, very great deal to be said about how much a tiny person can lift spirits.)

IMG_7513

Suits him, doesn’t it? He’s so happy and unaffected by all that’s going on around him, and making him little things is such a balm for my heart, and Meg’s too, I think. He’s been nothing but light and sunshine over the last little bit, and for a minute or two I didn’t even mind so much that my mother and my laptop were dead while he smiled at me.

IMG_1585

Today was all about starting him another sweater, because I see now that he’s the secret to sanity over the next bit – and somehow trying to whip my iPad into shape to do at least part of the job of my laptop for a few days before I can figure out how to replace it.  If this entry looks weird, it’s because I’ve worked out a really odd system for getting a post up. I suspect it will be the pictures that are really strange, but screw it. Look at me! I got something done two days in a row.

I honestly never thought I’d be proud of that. See you tomorrow, if nothing else dies.

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