Monday, October 22, 2007


For those that have followed the blog since its infancy, you have noticed its subtle shift from teaching anecdotes to pictures of finished creations and talk of yarn. While teaching, I had little time or energy to knit or sew during the year unless under duress (as in the case of a sister's graduation), but I had no shortage of student typos.

When we moved to South Bend and I began working, I had to adjust to the excess of free time, including an hour lunch each day. I naturally returned to my yarn, picking it up during a movie at home or while enjoying a leisurely lunch outdoors. And these habits have been maintained this year plus.

It became natural to document these successes online, but one hindrance stands in my path. At a minimum, my sisters and I have instituted a 'homemade Christmas' for each other, and it looks like a couple others may join us in this challenge. Therefore, I have been furiously knitting and sewing, but if I revealed stories and photos of what I have kept busy with as of late, I ruin the surprise, for most of my sisters check this on a regular basis.

As a teaser, though, I reveal what I have made for my nephew, since he's yet too young to be reading this and I trust his mother to remain mum on the subject. Let me introduce you to 'snake' and 'mouse.' I have struggled with names for these creatures, so suggestions are welcome. I've debated Nagini and Neville, but it has little merit for non-Harry Potter fans. The analogy falls apart with examination, since Nagini is creepy and Neville is not a rodent, but I digress.

Initially I passed this pattern by, until I realized that snake could eat mouse, revealing to all evidence of his recent meal. Then I couldn't resist. But really, who could?

So admittedly, my actual knitting creation still needs embroidered eyes, but you can see that the first image (from the pattern creator) has the project finished, and she shows the snake satiating his appetite.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bathroom Humor

A colleague relayed the following story about her elementary-aged granddaughter.

Little "Susie" accompanied her mother to her older brother's middle school. While there, she used the restroom. When she emerged, she said, "Mom, I need a quarter."

"Why do you need a quarter?"

"I was washing my hands, but they're all out of paper towels. And can you believe they charge 25 cents for napkins!"

Her mother spit out, between laughs, "Honey, go use the hand dryer."

Friday, October 05, 2007

My Own Obsessive-Compulsive Tendencies, or Welcome to the Freak Show

My brain does funny things. In fact, it has been doing one particular funny thing going on nineteen years now, which is hard to own up to when I think of the triviality it represents.

Let's first go back to when little Faithy was in third grade, for this is when it began. Imagine a thoughtful girl in pigtails learning to spell (and apparently beginning to work with the multiplication tables). She liked to discover patterns in words. Let's take the word "teacher," as it is one I, um, she recalls manipulating. She would take a word, spell it out in her head, determining how many letters it contained. "Teacher" contains seven. However, she was not content with the sum. Instead, she wanted to see how many times she would have to repeat it in order to reach a proper total (determined to be any double digit ending in 6). "Teacher" would need to be repeated eight times to make 56, so she would dutifully do so. Why -6? One must not too deeply examine the roots of something begun when she was but nine. One theory as likely as another is that there were 16 stairs in her home, and she always counted them (although the total never varied, she couldn't resist).

As Faithy grew older and her savviness increased tenfold, she would graduate to analyzing phrases, sentences, song lyrics, and beyond. Before long, she could recognize when acceptable phrases were spoken without consciously counting them out ("no parking any time" is a stock example, or "closed on weekends").

Here we must enter another rule. She learned that if a phrase ended in a three or in an eight (take "no passing zone" or "Saturday," respectively), one could reach success by doubling the entirety (13 becomes 26, 8 becomes 16). At first she would double just to reach satisfaction, but it came to pass that she was content with reaching any double-digit ending in a three, six, or eight. So her odds were pretty good, now, since 30% of examined phrases would be acceptable.

But what to do with those ornery ones that didn't muster up? This is where her shady ethics come into question. She would make the necessary changes to find satisfaction, even if that required an alteration of meaning, or even if it ended up as nonsense. Just now someone spoke, "He's out of town." Yikes, only 12. She might transform the phrase to "She's out of town" to work, or perhaps "He is out of town."

There doesn't seem to be any merit to this exhibition, but at times it comes in handy with Wheel-of-Fortune or crosswords. She kept it to herself until college because of its banality, but then disclosed it to her older sister and a couple friends in a memorable breakfast ("memorable breakfast" is 18, just for your edification).

So why continue, you might ask? ("So why continue" is 13.) Ay, there's the rub. For this is why it is termed her obsessive-compulsive tendency, as it cannot be turned off. It is exacerbated when her mind is disengaged and seems to decrease with added engagement ("added engagement" is only 15, so it could be changed to "adding engagement" to keep the peace).

Her husband and friends can tell stories of how eery it can be to have her calculate the final digit of any given phrase with seemingly instantaneous results, but honestly, when she's been doing it for nineteen years, it would be a shame if it took much time. Perhaps most frightening of all, she periodically refers to herself in the third person.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Searching, Searching

Primarily the audience for this blog tends to be family and three-dimensional friends. Once in a while I will have a stranger comment how they found my blog through my use of a Flickr photo, and other times people are directed to it by a search engine.

I'm curious what the reaction must be for the people who searched for the following things and ended up at my page:

-appropriate birthday gift for ex-wife
-my car needs a nickname
-banking, text messaging
-not wanting to do work in school
-penmanship, "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy fox"
-poetry inspired by my niece
-Positive Affirmation worksheets for middle school students
-poetry poker
-Buick Century side impact death
-teaching english privet drive
-landlord responsibility above-ground pool
-molar extraction videos
-weddings on fathers day
-lingering cough nose bleed

I'm afraid there were some disappointed individuals.

The trend seems to be that I happened to use the words in unrelated posts, but Google leads them to me nonetheless. For instance, I discussed Hassler's novel in one post, and my teaching job in another ("staggerford and tenure" found me).

Or I mention how I have succumbed to Notre Dame football's siren song and "brady quinn hot" is led to my confession.

Sometimes an entry title is quite misleading, when you consider my tongue-in-cheek entries on temptations in college and lil smokies brought people looking for answers. And let's not forget "difference between men and women," which is also a repeat offender. Or those searching for the "recipe of Panera cinnamon crunch bagel," and instead are faced with my observations.

One of my favorite search terms, that shows up time and again, is "poems about potatoes." I am amused that my blog shows up first in a series of 2,240,000 million results. Apparently there's a great demand for such poetry, and I am proud to say that my entry on "Poetry and Potatoes"speaks to the masses. Yes, spuds do bring us all together.