Saturday, September 29, 2012

TOIA My Biggest (Yarn-Related) Problem

The problem with being a knitter is that when you notice that all your light-weight cardigans are old and kind of ratty, your first thought is not, "Hey, I better run by Target and see what I can get on sale," but "Hey, I better check Ravelry for a pattern and the yarn shop to see what they've got in sweater quantities, and, yes, I know there's already a cardigan in the closet that's just waiting to have its ends woven in and be blocked, you're not telling me anything I didn't already know, but that's a dress cardigan, and I need an everyday cardigan, and I am going to go YARN SHOPPING!" And then your eyes kind of cross and the drool starts to run and you become a yarn zombie, which is a condition that can never really be cured, but can be sent into temporary remission by the sense of shock that occurs when you realize you just spent $70 on what is essentially fancy string.

Meanwhile, you're still wearing an old, ratty sweater.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

TOIA the Prudhomme Quest

Meet René François Armand (Sully) Prudhomme:

Monsieur Prudhomme has the singular distinction of having been awarded the 1901 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first year the prize was ever awarded. Not that that means much. Although I still have hope of running across him accidentally one of these days--I plan to check the index in every Norton anthology that crosses my path--I haven't been able to find a significant collection of his work by a verifiably competent translator. 

There are a few poems available online, most frequently "The Broken Vase," or, alternatively, "The Fissured Vase." The worst translation is certainly that available on "Don't touch! It's broken." Snork.

The best, in my opinion, is the one at the On Being website. It's the most contemporary, and the translator specified that the fan was "a lady's fan," which made a bit of difference to me because I had been imagining a ceiling fan. Please don't ask me how a vase would be broken by a ceiling fan; I hadn't made it that far in my musings. I like to think I would've gotten there on my own eventually, and I thank you kindly for humoring me in that belief. But once I realized what type of fan Prudhomme meant, the poem took on a slightly different tone. Obviously.

(It also started me on a train of thought about why only women used fans. Were men supposed to be too tough to get hot? But I digress. Again.)

The last two stanzas of the version posted at On Being are:

The quick, sleek hand of one we love
Can tap us with a fan's soft blow,
And we will break, as surely riven
As that cracked vase. And no one knows.

The world sees just the hard, curved surface
Of a vase a lady's fan once grazed,
That slowly drips and bleeds with sadness.
Do not touch the broken vase.

Nice, yes? The Nobel committee awarded the prize to Prudhomme "in special recognition of his poetic composition, which gives evidence of lofty idealism, artistic perfection and a rare combination of the qualities of both heart and intellect." I'm looking forward to running across more Prudhomme some day, and the assignment still stands. If you find him somewhere, let me know.

Next up: 1982 winner Gabriel García Márquez for no other reason than that I've had Love in the Time of Cholera and News of a Kidnapping sitting in my to-read pile forever. Maybe I'll re-read One Hundred Years of Solitude again, too, just for kicks. 'Cause I'm crazy like that.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

TOIA Craftiness: How to Kill a Random Thursday

  • radiator cover
  • cheap Salvation Army frame deep enough to provide clearance between the wall and the back
  • tin snips
  • spray paint
  • super glue
  • nice weather to spray paint outside
Step 1: Cut out a piece of the radiator cover to fit the frame.

Step 2: Spray paint the pieces in the color of your choice (or not).

Step 3: Glue 'em together.

Step 4: Hang your dangly earrings from it. 

Click for bigness.

Step 5: Vow to strip the wallpaper and repaint the bedroom immediately. Or maybe next month. Whenever. It'll get done. Stop pressuring me!

Step 6: But in the meantime, consider yourself scary smart.

With enough determination to avoid work, you, too, can kill a random Thursday.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

This One Is About Books. (Updated)

In the blog world, there's nothing I hate more than seeing a new post up on my favorite knit blogger's page, and I gleefully click expecting to be regaled by stories of hilarious knitting mishaps, and it turns out that there are three sentences about knitting and then three pages about her garden. Or her cousin's brother-in-law's neighbor's toddler. I don't care about gardens, no matter how beautiful, or toddlers I've never met, no matter how cute.

But I fall into that same trap. Sometimes I write about dogs. Sometimes knitting. Sometimes . . . okay, that's pretty much it. But I figure if you read my posts because you like dogs and the post turns out to be about knitting, or vice-versa, you're probably annoyed. Hence, I have decided (at least until I get bored with the conceit) to start warning my three regular readers about what's coming up, and then you can click or not.

This One Is About (TOIA) Books. 

(Notice how it's not about dogs or knitting? Aren't you glad I warned you?)

The Nobel Prize in Literature is due to be announced next month, and that means it's time for me to make my annual vow to read at least one work by every Nobel-winning author since the beginning of the prize. Last year I went so far as to buy a copy of Tomas Transtromer's poetry. But I have not cracked the spine.

This year I thought I'd start the other way around and work from 1901 forward. But it turns out that winning the Nobel does not guarantee longevity the way you'd think it might. Neither the Wichita Public nor the Newman nor the Wichita State libraries has any collections by René François Armand (Sully) Prudhomme. I did find a public-domain site that has his poems nicely organized, which is great, except that they're in French. My memory of high school French doesn't extend much beyond "Bonjour" and "le chat," so unless he writes a lot about how to greet a cat, that probably won't help much. I plugged a stanza into Google translate just to see what would happen and got back a lot of tantalizing nonsense about stars and stairs and diamonds. No cats.

But I'm not giving up on Prudhomme. I think I might like him, if I can find a reasonable English translation. But for now it's back to work. I have stacks of grading to do (five stacks, to be specific), and the students care about whether I'm going to mark them down for failing to use the series comma (yes, I am), not about the difficulty in locating material by a long-dead French poet.

So I am assigning this task to you, Internet. If you happen to know where I can find some Prudhomme in English translation, let me know.

Update: I can't get a copy of Prudhomme's poems, but I could buy a jigsaw puzzle of his portrait. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I'm Speechless

Okay, not speechless, exactly, but apparently I haven't had anything blog-worthy to say in the last three and a half months.

Here are some things that happened while I was maintaining blog silence:
  • I taught an on-ground class at the S. Rock Road Southwestern campus. It was nice to have a small class of adults.
  • Bertie Sue rolled in a lot of poo.
  • A Missouri politician became a walking, talking billboard for why every child should be required to take sex education in school.  
  • Brewster didn't get to roll in very much poo because Bertie Sue usually got there first.
  • I learned how to mud drywall, specifically the ceiling. My neck objected. Loudly. For two days.
  • Bertie Sue took a lot of baths. 
  • Kansas decided Missouri was getting too much attention for having the stupidest politicians, so we decided to take seriously a request to remove the sitting President of the United States from the November ballot. We win!
  • I copyedited. A lot.
  • The cats mostly alternated between sleeping and demanding chin scratchies, as cats do.
  • Now I'm teaching two Newman classes, one on-ground of mostly 18- and 19-year-old traditional undergraduates (O! M! G!) and one online class of mostly adults. My next Southwestern class is online and starts next week. 
  • I'm still copyediting. A lot.
  • Between copyediting and managing the two online classes, I'm spending 12 or 13 hours a day at my desk.
  • I'm in the market for a laptop. 
  • I finally cast off the lace sweater I've been working on since last September 5th. Now it's sitting in the closet waiting for me to dig up the willpower to weave in the ends and block it. It's gorgeous. You'll love it.
  • I got my first-ever knitting "commission." Apparently if you bribe me with pretty purple yarn, I will knit you socks. I had no idea I was that easy.
  • Actually, now that I think about it, my first knitting "commission" was last year and it was a pair of socks for* a friend's ex-boyfriend's iPod that he "forgot" when he moved out. I still haven't mailed the socks. They're coming! I swear! (And they're very pretty. You're going to love them, Ms. You-Know-Who-You-Are.)
  • So apparently I can also be bribed with used electronics.
I'm sure a lot of other stuff happened that was as interesting as the stuff in this list, which is to say, not really at all, but time consuming, nonetheless. Hence, lack of posts. To my three fans, I apologize.

And if you would like me to make you a pair of socks, make me an offer. I need a new crock pot.

*A friend points out that I mean in exchange for. Because, you know, iPods don't have feet. That's why copyediting is important!