Thursday, December 27, 2007

What I did on my Christmas Break

Christmas was nice and quiet and cozy. I talked to Gator a couple of times, made a little Christmas dinner, watched DVDs and knit. I finished my new hat!

I made up the pattern, but it's just alternating 6-stitch cables and stockinette, so no great shakes. But I like it! It has a nice, big brim that folds up to make a warm double layer over my ears and forehead.

The brim is so big that you can't really see the pattern unless I look down like this. Of course, now it's not cold enough to need it, but it looks like tomorrow I'll be glad I got it done -- big storm's a-brewing for Beer Town.

I mailed Gator's hat to him yesterday, so as soon as I have word that it's arrived, I'll post pics of it, too. But it doesn't really look right on my small noggin since it's made for a much larger head. Maybe sometime I can get pics of Gator modeling it. I wouldn't hold my breath, though.

I don't feel very well this morning, so I'll go to the lab a bit late. There's not a great deal to do there anyway, but I do have a lot of reading to do. I really wish I'd arranged to take more time off over the holidays, even if I didn't go anywhere. I feel I need some re-charging time after such a strenuous semester. I'm sure it will be fine -- it's not like I'm working that hard right now anyway.

It's been fun browsing around the Blogosphere, seeing what y'all did for the holidays. Plus, I got pulled into the vortex that is Facebook, so I've been strolling around there a bit, too.

If you haven't already posted it, what did you do for your holidays?


Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

It's been a quiet day today. I slept late (for me), lounged around, watched some episodes of The X-Files, and cast on a new hat for me.

I'm kind of making it up as I go, but I know I want a wide brim to turn up, so that's where I am so far. I'll keep you posted. I using yarn to match my braided cables scarf, though the pattern will definitely not be so intricate. I kind of like the matching thing, plus I think the natural color will go well with my new dye job (another fun Christmas Eve activity):

I was going to show a before pic, but it was too horrifying to see the light of day.

Right after I colored my hair, my wonderful Aunt Judy called me! It was a great surprise and a nice treat. I hadn't talked to her since I visited her last Christmas (I know, I'm a bad niece), and it was so good to hear her voice. Merry Christmas again, Aunt Jude, and a very Happy New Year. I love you!!!

This evening I'm going to watch a few more DVDs and knit some more. Nice, quiet, restful. And I'm going to get a warmer hat out of it, so hoo-yah!

Becky tagged everyone who visits her blog for the Ornament Meme, so I guess I'm "it". I'll pass on the favor -- consider yourself tagged.

Here are the rules:

1. Take a picture of your favorite ornament and put it on your blog telling everyone about it.

2. Post a link to the person on whose blog you found out about the Ornament Tag.

3. Post the rules.

This is my favorite ornament. It's the first in the Hallmark series of "Frosty Friends" ornaments from 1980. My mother won this as a deuce prize at a bridge game that year and we/I have collected every ornament in the series ever since. I still buy the new one every year. This year was the 28th year and they're all on my tree. In fact, those and several Star Wars ornaments make the bulk of my ornament collection. My tree is pretty full.

Here's where I cheat in the meme. I'm adding my two favorite new additions to my tree this year:

My dear blog buddy friend Judy sent me this lovely, colorful snowflake with my Christmas card this year. I really do have a card and flake for you, Judy, I'm just very behind this year! Thank you so much! Isn't it gorgeous?

Also, my neighbor and new friend Ron gave me this anchor ornament. He's a Navy man, loves the sea, boats, and sailing and I love how this ornament is so "him". I think it's charming.

I just talked to Gator a bit ago, and he told me the mailman knocked at the door with the books I sent him from Amazon just as they were opening gifts at his Mom's! What good timing! He also reports that he is now the proud owner of Guitar Hero III, so he's in hog heaven for a while. He won't even notice that his hat is late! ;)

Some hot cocoa is calling my name, so I'm going to enjoy the rest of my quiet evening. Best Christmas Eve wishes to everyone!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

My dilemma

My and my husband's families are in Missouri this Christmas.

I am in Milwaukee.

This decision was made for many practical reasons between my husband and I, and I believe all the reasons were good, sound and, in view of the bigger picture, completely right.

But it means that I'm isolated from my entire family for the holidays.

I rather like being alone, and can easily find a thousand ways to happily spend my time for a couple of days. I've been looking forward to the relaxation I will finally get. Except for The Day. I don't really want to sit around by myself all Christmas Day. Except maybe I sort of do. Maybe I can explain this crap.

I have several options for spending my Christmas day. My friend Anne has invited me to her family's celebration at her grandmother's home which is about an hour out of the city. There will be Christmas dinner, much game-playing, and a gift exchange. I like Anne a lot and I've met her parents and they are great. I think it would be a really fun time. Any other day. I don't really want to be the poor little friend who didn't have anywhere else to go on Christmas. I don't have any food to take, and no money to buy any. Do I think they would actually care if I brought a dish? No. Would I feel retched if I didn't bring something to this stranger's home? Most definitely. I'm sure I could whip up a gift for the exchange, but I already have gifts I haven't made for people I love. And apparently you get a gift if you go, whether you reciprocate or not. I just can't not take a gift. This option has several strikes against it, but a big pro -- namely it would be fun. Most probably.

Alternately, several of my friends from school are international students who will be around and who aren't Christian, so it's just another day to them. A couple have said that I should call them if I want to do something on Tuesday. That's very nice, but I don't want spend the day pretending I like curry and explaining what I would be doing to celebrate if I were with my family. So, bah humbug, I'm not likely going to do that, either.

Another problem with both of these options is that I don't want to be caught amongst strangers when I have my "Christmas Moment". Ever since my parents passed away, I cry at Christmas. Not for a long time, and usually not full-on weeping, but it always happens. And I never know what's going to set it off. And I really don't want to be the girl who not only doesn't have a place to go for Christmas but who still cries randomly because, poor thing, her parents are dead. Of course, it appears that I am that girl, but let's not make a big production of it, shall we?

Part of me wants to just lay around the house in my pajamas, eat random stuff, play with my Ipod, and knit. But I know I will look out the window at the empty streets, at my empty stocking hung by the heat vent with care, at the empty area under my tree, and at my near-empty pantry and that will depress me. Apparently, its already depressing me.

I fully admit that there's something really fulfilling about wallowing and throwing a little pity-party. I know that if I'm alone on Christmas day, it will be my own doing. I know I'm being a brat -- if I can't have my family and my husband I don't want anything, so there! But it's really partially true. Someone else's family, no matter how wonderful and charming and welcoming, can never substitute for my own. How fake is to put on my happy face and feel awkward all day just so I can say, "By Golly, I didn't spend Christmas alone!"

I know I should have more grace than this. I hope get over this pre-holiday PMS and become my normal, cheery self. I hope desperately that I re-read this post tomorrow or Tuesday and think, "Egads, I'm glad I'm not always such a freaking little ball of sunshine!"

How much beef jerky and pretzel chips do you think that will take?


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Gray day

Happy Winter Solstice! Yes, it's the shortest day of the year and I, for one, am quite thankful for that fact! I currently go into work at 7 am, as soon as dawn breaks, so that I can leave while the sun is still up and don't have to walk home in the dark at 4:30. Milwaukee is just enough farther north than Missouri for me to really feel the difference in daylight hours. I'm looking forward to the days slowly getting longer and having more light in my life!

Today I ::gasp!:: have a Saturday Sky to share with you.

Now, lest you think I just made a big gray square in Photoshop, I'll let you in on the secret as to why my sky picture looks as it does:

It's foggy, kids! Gray, dreary, and limited visibility. I'm very glad that my trek to the lab will be on foot.

Most of the day will be spent in the lab, trying to optimize the Proteinase K concentration for my next experiment. Oh, you are dying from the jealousy, I can totally tell. Everyone else's pre-holiday-Saturday activities pale in comparison.

Tonight I may do something completely radical: Write my Christmas cards. Yep, I'm obviously right on top of things this holiday season. Does anybody really care that much if cards are late? I sincerely hope not.

Once the cards are done, I will get back to work on my other great holiday tradition -- late handmade Christmas gifts! Gator's gift hat was already going to be late, but I've just discovered that, despite my best calculations, it's going to be too small for his sweet noggin. So, it's getting frogged and re-knit in a slightly different pattern with a different gauge. Which means that it's going to be even later than originally planned. I'm very glad I already sent some non-handmade gifts so he will certainly have some goodies from me under the tree. I'm also very glad he loves me for more than my punctuality.

Off to work with me! Enjoy your weekend!


Friday, December 21, 2007

The fun never stops -- and I'm pooped!

Ever since finals, I've been relishing the thought of having some nice, veg-out time for myself -- maybe a whole day in my pajamas kind of thing. But it seems, instead, that I've been in uber-socializing mode every night of the week. Christmas parties, graduation parties, dinner at friends' homes, stitch night. Oh, and there was some massive paper grading thrown in there last week. All of this has been incredibly fun and I'm so happy I now have the time to enjoy all this socializing without guilt (except for that still-not-sent-Christmas-card guilt), but I'm still almost as exhausted as I was during finals! Since I'm on my own for the holiday, I hope to get caught up on some serious sloth.

Tonight the professor I was a TA for is taking me to dinner at the Water Street Brewery and to my very first Marquette Men's Basketball game as a thank-you. Isn't that sweet? I'm very excited. I'm not a basketball fan, but going to a sporting event is always fun, even if the sport itself isn't my favorite. Plus, this is my school now, and I'm a supporter, even if the constant sound of soles squeaking on the floor drives me a little nuts. Anyway, I think it will be a really good time. Plus, I really like Dr. Waring and I always have fun with her.

Last night's festivities included attending a Christmas concert put on by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. The music was varied (Farandole, pieces from The Nutcracker, Silent Night, Sleigh Ride, etc.) and the performance was top-notch. The space in which it took place was amazing, too. The Basilica of St. Josaphat is a beautiful old Polish cathedral on the south side of the city, built in the late 1800's using stone from the demolished Chicago Post Office. It was completely renovated in the 1990's, and the interior is crazy with its ornamentation.

I don't think pictures can do it justice. There was just so much to look at!! It was a magical evening.

This weekend won't necessarily be all that restful either, considering my darling little Tetrahymenae have seen fit to be difficult and now I must run experiments tomorrow that were supposed to be run today. Darned little guys. Like they have their own little lives to live, or something!

Oh well, I can sleep when I'm dead, right?


Monday, December 17, 2007


Hi! Still not dead! In fact, feeling fairly jaunty for the moment. How are you?

In order to accomplish everything I needed to towards the end of this semester, I had to just put the hammer down and remove myself from the blogosphere entirely. So I haven't posted, and I haven't read any blogs since before Thanksgiving. So I have no idea what's up with y'all. It'll take forever for me to catch up. But I'll get there!

But I have officially made it through the semester, taken all my finals, written all my papers, and graded all the exams for the class I TA. I'm free! Well, except for all that research, but I'm actually looking forward to being able to focus on that alone for about a month. It will be great, in fact. And fairly normal feeling -- I'll spend a lot of time in the lab, I'm sure, but I get to actually leave at some point, and then I don't have to study or grade or prepare for discussions, etc, etc, etc. How novel! That means I get to knit and crochet some! Awesome! I've been jonesing.

The first thing I did was finish a little project I had started over Thanksgiving. See, every year the Biological Sciences department has a Christmas party that includes a potluck and a white elephant gift exchange. Last year I decided that this year I would make something for the gift exchange. So I whipped up a little something and I just finished it -- happy dance!

Oh, what is it, you ask?

Well, what would you make for a white elephant gift exchange?

I thought it was a no-brainer, actually...

I also started a couple little projects that I can't show just yet... But when I can, I will. Ah, this project startin' and finishin' just feels so good!!

Hopefully, we're back to our regularly scheduled blogging...