Saturday, December 20, 2008


I have been having difficulties with posting since sitting at the computer is painful for me. I can never figure out exactly how to deal with this sitting pain. When I get better at dealing with it (and more motivated!) I am sure that I will post more regularly.

Until then, here is my latest knitted thing.

This is my husband wearing the blue sweater that he ORDERED. I never did make him the quilt that I promised him if he quit smoking, so this is some kind of solace, I guess. The pattern was made special (just to fit my husband)for me by my cousin, Judi, a very accomplished knitter.

We are going on vacation from the 23rd to the 30th. I might be able to get my hands on a computer, but doubt I will have time to post. Perhaps I can if I really try and can sit in a chair for more than a minute.

All of you knitters out there, I hope you were able to finish all of your Chanukah and Christmas projects. Another reason to think of knitting as CLOSE.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Just Rambling

I'm still trying to knit for Christmas presents for friends and Chanukah presents for family. And I am busier than ever substitute teaching which is the reason I can beg your pardon that I have not written in several days. I have finished making one of the silk eye pillows filled with rice and the lavender I grew in my garden this past summer. Now there is a never say never story for you. It would be way too cliche to write about a plant that I thought had died coming back to life, but the lavender plant is actually that story to a tee. (to a T?) Anyway, I will be making at least one more scented eye pillow and bequeathing them on some lucky person between the 21st and the 25th.

I started a cabled headband for another small project (see picture). It is a knitpicks free pattern
so I don't think anyone will mind me providing a link. And if you already have needles, it will only cost you $2.49 + shipping for the yarn (which is gorgeous) by the way. I chose a bright purple.

The month of December always makes me think about poetry. Here is a favorite poem of mine by A.E. Housman, who lived in Victorian England and suffered from great lonliness his whole life because he was a homosexual. His poems all had a similar rhyme scheme and lovely sentiments.

WHEN I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
‘Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies 5
But keep your fancy free.’
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.
When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again, 10
‘The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;
’Tis paid with sighs a plenty
And sold for endless rue.’
And I am two-and-twenty, 15
And oh, ’tis true, ’tis true.

For a good time, read more poems by Housman.

Cheers and happy knitting,


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Short Takes

Three short takes tonight... I promise I will mention knitting, but you might not like it...

Number One:

Although I completely expected something terrible to happen, I was, nonetheless, very angry that some poor employee was trampled by shoppers in front of a Wal-Mart on Black Friday last week.
He wasn't just run over, he was run over TO DEATH! Why is it that shopping has become a dangerous sport in America? This is not the first year that someone has been injured or killed as a horde of greedy shoppers push their way into a store for the great early bird bargains the day after Thanksgiving. Who wouldn't risk their life to get the Paula Deen 10-piece non-stick cookware set for the low low price of only $99.97 or a Nikon Coolpix L18 8MP Digital Camera for only $99.84. (that might be the one Ashton Kutcher uses!!!!! OMG!)

I couldn't express this story any better than poet Andrei Codrescu. Click on this link: Deadly Stampede At Wal-Mart Not Surprising : NPR Best to listen to the audio. His voice has so much pathos.
If you read the comments, it is evident that several people really disagreed. Especially, the pro-lifer who uses any tragedy to remind women that they are scum.

Number two:

Why is it that we bailed out AIG for a whole heck of alot of money...("Just take this money, Wall Street Guys, and do whatever with it. No need to tell us what you plan to do or justify what you did."), but the Manufacturer Guys who hold together most of the middle class jobs in this country have to write an essay before Congress will even consider helping them. HMMMM
(You'd better have a plan, M Guys or no money for you). You get the picture...

Number 3:

Shame on me for reading shlock magazines. A very famous musician was interviewed about what he expects from his "women". Well, he expects great grooming including top of the line pedicures, manicures and facials. Oh, and let's not forget Brazilian Waxes. All of his women have to have Brazilians. No hair anywhere but on the head. Click the link, read the description and wonder when women had to be hairless to be women. I was under the impression that when you GOT hair down there you became a woman. This younger generation of men is disgusted by hair. This is extremely creepy. I must say -- Women of the world keep your "down there hair"! If your man wants you hairless, wouldn't he just prefer someone who didn't have to shave or wax it off at all? I TOLD YOU THIS WAS CREEPY!!

And if you are someone who has had SO MANY Brazilian waxes that no hair will grow there any more, maybe you can knit yourself some pubic hair.

I told you you wouldn't like it when I finally mentioned knitting...

Closely yours,


Monday, December 1, 2008

Funny, You Don't Look Sick!

There are just some conditions, like chronic pain, and the incurable and obnoxious bladder condition that I live with called interstitial cystitis, that are just invisible to the public. Looking at me, you would think I was just hunky dory healthy, especially if I were in an extremely cheerful mood that particular day. While this can be a blessing, it can also be a curse. Someone standing in a grocery store line would most definitely think of letting a person check out in front of him if, for example, she were pale, skinny and bald, say, from chemo. He might think that this cancer chick needs to get home fast and lie down. But it would appear absurd for me to expect someone to look at me all apparently healthy and cheery, and let me butt in front because in fact I am in great need of a couch and a toilet, although not necessarily in that order.

I actually own a small laminated card that says something like The person carrrying this card is suffering from a condition that requires IMMEDIATE USE of a RESTROOM. This is supposed to be helpful in ladies lounges with long lines, say at the ballgame, when I need to go fast or else get very wet. Thankfully, I have never used the card, but I may have to someday.

Here are some more pain sites I copied from the ICA website. I just copied them, so I don't know yet if they will actually link. I hope so. Also, I hope this may be of hope to anyone that is needing to reach out to get help with her chronic pain.

Pain Relief: A Wealth of Useful Online Resources
Looking for information about pain management? Check out the following online resources:

  • Partners Against Pain, developed by Purdue Pharma, provides online tools for pain assessment, all located within an easy to navigate website. With the goal of helping to alleviate unnecessary suffering by advancing standards of pain care through education and advocacy, the site provides resources for patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers.
  • Emerging Solutions in Pain (ESP) is an ongoing educational initiative developed to address some of today's most critical issues in pain management. These issues involve balancing fundamental rights of patients and clinicians with the challenge of risk containment for opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction. Site features include patient and physician educational materials. Currently, the ESP Ask the Experts site section features an audio presentation by ICA Medical Advisory Board member, Daniel Brookoff, MD, PhD.

Help from Nonprofit Pain Organizations:

American Chronic Pain Association
Phone: 916-632-0922, 800-533-3231

American Pain Foundation
Phone: 888-615-PAIN (7246)

National Pain Foundation
866-590-PAIN (7246)

So what does any of this have to do with knitting?

Well, don't ask me about how I think I wrecked Mark's scarf by wetting it to block it! It stretched out rather badly. I think I should have read up on blocking before I started... I will definitely not supply you with a picture of the scarf POST-BLOCKING.

It's December. Let's get through the holiday season and still be

Closely Knit,


Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Short Post - No Solace for Teachers

Last night my husband and I went to see the new James Bond movie "Quantum of Solace." In one scene, Bond is sheparded into a scuzzy hotel in Bolivia under the cover of a "teacher on sabbatical"
Say it isn't so! But it is... A teacher can only afford a scuzzy hotel on the off chance that she can even get to Bolivia. He then takes the woman (who is supposedly "escorting" him) to the 5 star hotel (nearby?) and calmly tells the clerk "We're teachers on sabbatical - and we've won the lottery" Ha ha, big laugh. Am I the only grumpy teacher in the movie theater thinking about paltry teacher salaries? I guess this is some insight into the fact that I have trouble having a good time. Sometimes being socially aware ruins a fun night at the movies.

I have finished knitting THE scarf and will post a picture of it very soon. I am doing the drudge work of weaving in ends and blocking. I need to start some more charity knitting. There are soldiers without scarves and socks and pets without blankets in their cages and babies without soft blankets, and cold children without hats.

I need to go see another escapist movie and actually escape this time!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What I Didn't Realize about Knitting

When I decided to pick up knitting again about one and a half years ago, it was just because some of the people at work were knitting scarves. The school nurse had started a knitting club after school for students (both sexes!) I thought, hey, this is something I know how to do. I can make a scarf! I had enjoyed knitting in the past; I had also done cross stitch, embroidery, needlepoint and crochet. Baking is something I also enjoy, but since I turned, the weight fairy has been visiting almost every day. So, baking is something reserved for holidays. The work knitters were also knitting squares to make an afghan for a charity donation. This appealed to my social justice side- more than half of my psychological make up for sure.

I decided to make myself a scarf, all garter stitch out of Moda Dea Dream, a lusciously soft nylon and acrylic yarn, in a light blue. Then, since my mom really enjoyed soft things, I made her one out of the same yarn. This scarf turned out to be a major mitzvah because it was this scarf that comforted her in her last few days of life when she was battling leukemia brought on by the chemo she had had years before for non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

I had had no idea up to that point of the power of knitting. One of the other things I didn't realize about knitting is that it is meditative. For a person in pain, knitting can calm and distract. My pain is dulled and sometimes disappears in the gentle rhythm and repetition of the movement. If I concentrate on the needles as they knit and purl, I no longer pay attention to the pain. (Aside: There are MANY male knitters out there)

Consider the "knitting basket" giving program of Heifer International. A $500 donation will provide two llamas and two sheep to an impoverished family. Doesn't sound like much until you realize that these four animals can provide a steady income, raising an impoverished family out of poverty. Take the time to read the website, it is amazing. Perhaps, given the economic difficulties of the whole world, ideas of Christmas giving will evolve this year?

So, knitting gives outwardly and inwardly. Much more about this to come.

I am going to have my roots colored today. And what do you suppose I'll be doing while the color is working its way into my hair for 45 minutes?

Always closely knitting!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Pain in the Neck or Wherever...

In one of my recent blogs, I mentioned that sometimes I skip a blog day because I am having significant pain. Those of us who are in the chronic category of pain and have become enlightened to what's out there know that it is not good to live with pain. I know a lot of people who think that living with pain is some type of martyrdom. There are those who won't go to docs for some reason. But what they don't realize is that the longer a person stays in chronic pain, the more permanent the pain becomes. It has to do with nerve pathways.

Anyway, if you are in pain, it would be a good idea to find a pain doctor. There are many organizations that represent people in pain. Some of them are: American Chronic Pain Association, American Academy of Pain Medicine and the American Pain Foundation.

Many people who take medication for chronic pain still live active, happy lives. There are also many activities that reduce pain, yoga, for example. Also - swimming, meditation...My favorite is knitting.

Stay close!


P.S. I don't mind blogging away happily knowing that only one person is reading my blog. I'm not sure why I am so shy about letting people know that I have one. I haven't even told my family and friends. Oh, I did tell Sofia's mom so she could see Sofia's pretty sweater online!

Ravelry /The Trouble with Substitute Teaching

This blog is supposed to be about substitute teaching, but let me just start with a knitting comment. Last night I signed into Ravelry. (Yes, thank you Charles Leck for teaching me how to do a link!) For those of you who do not know, Ravelry is an online knitting community. I joined not knowing the POWER of a community like this. I have never joined MySpace or any of the other social networking sites, but if you are a knitter Ravelry can take you places you never dreamed of in the knitting world. You really have to join to understand, but I am working on my little Ravelry "world" as we speak. If you are a knitter, please join. It takes a few days. (There is a waiting list). Have I piqued your curiousity? I hope so.

Now, for substitute teaching. The trouble with it (or ONE of the troubles) is that you don't always work on the days you want to. That's pretty obvious. What isn't obvious maybe to some people is that if you want to work, you have to be ready to work even if you do not have a job arranged the night before. Let me try to explain. The high schools that I work for start classes at 7:20 am, an ungodly hour for Mr. Kotters and sweathogs alike. Frequently, I will get my phone call to sub at 6:45 am. It takes me a good 90 minutes to get ready. Make coffee, eat cereal, shower and use (ahem) the bathroom, get dressed, put on my face, (when I was 25 I could skip this part, but no more...), pack a get the picture. So, what I have to do, is get up at 5:15 whether I have a job or not, do all those things, and see if I get called. This is what I did both yesterday and today. And guess what...I'm at home blogging. And making $0.00 for doing it.

I like at home days, but with the economy the way it is, I should have been working today!

My best to you. If you google Mr. Kotter, you can watch old episodes.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Substitute Teaching

I've been busy teaching, so teaching is on my mind. Two years ago, I retired from 31 years of teaching in public schools. One year of elementary teaching in a 2nd and 3rd grade classroom. The basis of this class was - "Let's give the rookie the worst behaved kids". I was exactly 20 years old when I got this job and 21 when I resigned allegedly to get married. My "fiancee" and I broke up 3 months later. Then after graduate school, I taught for 4 years in a depressed section of Chicago. My students were cognitively and emotionally high risk preschoolers ages three to five. I would have up to twelve students at a time by myself. I begged for help but received none. Then for the next 21 years I took on a special education position mainly in a high school here in Missouri. When I burned out of sped, I became an English teacher and served my last 5 years in the pursuit of helping at least some of my students enjoy the sight and sound of our language.

When I retired at the end of the 2006-2007 school year, it was more because of my chronic pain than it was the changes in the field of education (the demeanor of students, the lack of parental concern, No Child Left Untested laws, administrative woes, lack of support, lack of money for training and supplies). I was somewhat done with the job, but I will always miss the connection that I had with students. I never won any Teacher of the Year awards because these are almost all political. (I was Teacher of the month once in Sept. 1999! Whoopee!) However, some of the feedback I received from parents, administrators and students led me to believe that I was an adequate if not good if not exceptional teacher, and despite the bad case of "imposter syndrome" that I suffer, there are times when I am confident enough to believe that I did actually make a difference. I know that when I had a personal relationship with a student, he was more likely to be respectful and motivated.

This brings me to my experience of yesterday. I substituted at a high school for a special ed teacher whose main job was to assist with mainstreaming 9th and 10th grade students with learning difficulties and emotional problems into regular math, and science classrooms. I particularly noted that in almost every class, the students (both the ones with IEPs and those without) frequently talked back to the teachers, used bad language, ignored the instruction, talked to each other during the instruction, refused to do the tasks assigned, and failed quizzes and tests. In the classroom in which the regular teacher was present , I noticed that her attitude was that the kids cannot learn anyway. This was a teacher who is only one year from retirement, and while I can't assume that she has had the training that I have had over the years in dealing with at-risk and special needs students, I would assume that she has had SOME inservice training on motivation, classroom instruction, organization, classroom management, effective instruction etc. etc.!!! All teachers in Missouri are required to take a classes in Exceptional Learners for certification. I did not observe any techniques on the part of the teacher that would help the students with motivation, control, or development of positive social relationships.

What I saw was pitiful. Yes, the students were rude, ignored instruction, talked to each other etc. But it was very clear that the teacher had reinforced this behavior since the beginning of the school year. She had told me before class that most of the students had failing percentages. Her major technique for control was telling the student that he/she would lose points for poor behavior. When I asked if she gave extra points for good behavior, she just looked at me...

In another classroom in which the regular teacher was absent, the rudeness and poor behavior of the students was so striking that I asked them to behave as if the regular teacher were present.
They told me that they acted the same way when the regular teacher was there. This was confirmed other school personnel.

I have seen wonderful teachers in my time affect students in wonderful ways. My sister, Amy Hathaway, helps elementary students with learning disabilities with incredibly positive and creative drive. My husband taught Art and Art History for 31 years and still receives letters and phone calls from students who became teachers, artists, or designers, and credit him with inspiring them to excel. My friend Dorci Leara in Arizona is a star among English teachers,
motivating them to read and write, to become authors and journalists. My long lost friend Mercedes Lopanec, now in Florida, is the amazingly gifted teacher who showed me how to get through to every single student in classes as large as 34 students. This was inspiration I used every single day of my teaching career and even into my "career" as a substitute. My daughter, Annie, has the gift. She tutored Math with drop-outs, parolees, and drug offenders who were working their way back to GEDs. I am sure she inspired them.

I guess the point of this post is that it is a royal shame that students are rude, disrespectful, and unmotivated. But, I know that more, much more, could come from a few teachers who aren't digging deep enough into how they really feel about their students and what is expected of them.

Today very closely knit,


P.B. Mark's scarf is now 18" long. The green and grey are beautiful together. Much thanks to KnitPicks for making delicious yarn affordable.

P.P.B. Someone explain to me how to make words in my blog into links.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Two different kinds of pain

The reason I haven't posted in several days is pain. I am a chronic pain patient. I won't bore you with the details, but when I am having a bad bout I can't sit at the computer. So no new blogs. If you are suffering with pain of any kind. Don't suffer. Get help. There are pain management clinics and docs that specialize in interventional pain management. Google those words. I'll try to get you some links. I won't be sitting for very long today.

The other pain I am having is California's Prop 8. I can't understand someone voting to take away a right that someone already has. It is disgraceful that the Mormon Church could serve up so much spiritual violence in one fell swoop. And the fact that they targeted California is sickening.
We will win this battle. If you want to join this movement, and especially if you are nauseated by how religious groups use the Bible to torture homosexuals in as many ways as they can, go to An amazing group.

I hope I will be able to post blogs more often. Yesterday I almost took the whole blog down. But if you can be patient...

Andrew Sullivan, a conservative commentator who also happens to be gay writes about Prop 8 in his recent blog in the Daily Dish. More on that later.

I have my husband's scarf on my needles. It is grey and green, bulky yarn from KnitPicks (Cadena), and I'm improvising a pattern from one he saw on the Banana Republic website.

Trying to stay out of pain and closely knit...GbLts, keep your chins up!



Friday, November 14, 2008

One more post

I swear this is the last post about Nate Silver and Sean Quinn's very accurate and impressive website and blog that ruled the presidential election (

Here is a link to an article from the Nov. 10th New York Times you can read.

Well, not the absolute last post. Just wait until 2010...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

538 Continued

Since I mentioned how I strangely followed up on watching the website throughout the last few months of the campaigns by creating a chart that shows how well Nate Silver and Sean Quinn did state by state in the Presidential election, I thought at least I should share some of my data.
(Isn't this another strange thing to be doing, considering that very few people are reading this?)

Here are some brief results. I thought of copying the WHOLE CHART but that would just be busy work, I think. By the way, my husband's wise answer to why I did this chart thing was that I was just really interested in it. A boring reason, but probably true.

According to's creators, every state that they predicted would go to Obama went to Obama and every state that they predicted would go to McCain went to McCain. Now that is pretty impressive in itself! More impressive were stats like this...they predicted that Maryland would go Democratic by 23 points, which it did. They predicted the exact number of points (decimals were rounded up at .5) for New Hampshire, Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Minnesota, Montana, and New Jersey. There were also another four states in which their prediction was only one point off! They also predicted the states that would be too close to call.
I'm sorry but this is just too amazing. My readers might want to take a look at this website if Nate Silver and Sean Quinn decide to continue it for the next election cycle. I know I will be watching it carefully. Oh, I should tell you that my hair stylist, Jan Xeno, was the one who told me about 538 because Sean is her nephew (cousin?). Thanks, Jan.

And why am I doing this blog when I have little time and not much to say? I guess it's because I always thought I might have some writing ability. Maybe people who should write should just write. Hello out there!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Closely Knit or Completely Spaced Out?

First, I have to mention how thrilled I am that the election is over and that Obama will be the next President of the United States. I worked very hard...well actually, I canvassed and made phone calls and prayed a lot. I made up a visualization involving Barak surfing... starting from the Atlantic Ocean over the entire country from the East coast to the West Coast and into the sunset over the Pacific picking up electoral votes the whole way.

Mostly I just worried, not only during the last few months, but over the last eight years about every single egregious action of the Bush administration starting with reinstating the Global Gag order (his first order of business as president) not to even mention Guantanamo, torture, the Patriot Act, the Iraq fiasco, turning the whole world against us...

I see hope, choice, and relief coming in the next four years. Go Mr. Obama, lead us. Now I will stop being preachy.

After reading my first post, my son mentioned that my blog doesn't seem to have a focus. I think that not having any focus is what I am, what I do,in a macro sense. Micro-ly I have intense focus. When I read, I read. When I knit, I knit. When I write, I write. When I yearn for social justice, I yearn with focus. But my day overall has no focus at all.

This is what I did today. I had a doctor's appointment after which I stopped at a bookstore for no reason at all. In the vestibule I was distracted by the SALE books. A cookbook about SOUP attracted me. Last spring, I made vegetable broth for the Passover seder, but I wanted an easier recipe. I efficiently found the vegie broth recipe which looked good. Finding a comfy chair, I proceeded to giraffe the recipe into my Palm Pilot. (My husband commented later, "Now that's labor intensive!") I must have wasted a good hour and a half looking through the book for a soup recipe that didn't have any pig parts (not Kosher), didn't have cream (too fattening, can't serve with meat), didn't have more than 4 ingredients, (too much of a pain in the ass).
I finally found one and giraffed that one into PalmPilot too.

Is this pleasant distraction or completely spacing out? Will I ever make this soup?

When I got home I took a nap because all of this giraffing (plus the one hour drive to and from the doctor) was exhausting and then I read the NYTIMES. (I think am the only person in this small town in Missouri who takes the Times every day). I found the section about the election that graphed the results state by state. But now I have to explain something else.

By the way this is all trying to convince myself that one can be completely spaced out AND sort of sloppily focused. Kind of "closely knit". (my knitting sometimes being sloppy) I know I will get around to talking about knitting real soon!

During the election, if I got really nervous about the polls, I looked at a website my hair stylist recommended called I decided to see how close they really were. So, with the NY Times and the website final projections I made a chart showing each state, the winner, the winning percentage (projected by 538) and the actual winning percentage. Except for Missouri and N. Carolina (which were undecided when the paper was printed), Sean Quinn and Nate Silver, 538's analysts, predicted who won which state perfectly and were damn close or exact on the percentages. Amazing.

But the point is WHY DID I DO THIS? I have no deep personal connection to this website or its creators. I have no interest in statistics or even in elections (as long as my candidate wins). I'm just playful and spacey in a weird intellectual goofy way.
Could be that I had to retire too young. See you another day.

Today for example

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

First Blog/ A Knit Quote

Like I really have time for this! This blog is just an example of the kind of thing I get into while I am waiting to take a shower or eat lunch. I am insatiably curious about how to do things...all kinds of things. On the computer, with yarn, fabric? and in my head. While I can't commit to anything, if I just start doing them, maybe...just maybe...I will finish or continue.

Well I did finish knitting and sewing together a sweater for Mark, my husband.

A quote:

We might knit that knot with our tongues that we shall never undo with our teeth.
John Lyly