Tuesday, April 29, 2008

on a brighter note

it is cold this morning but the sun is shining on my knitpicks. i have made knitting that looks like embroidery:

the inside of a slip stitch heel in yummy knittery yarn.

thanks for the lovely comments and emails

k xx

Monday, April 28, 2008

pathetic and morose

i have tried about three times this morning to write a post that wasnt morose and pathetic including posting my results from the nerd test over on kukas blog (i am 91% nerd, by the way. sheesh). but nothing seems to be right, and its simply because nothing is right.

everything is a mess.

oh on the outside it all looks alright. trent has gone back to work. i am marking essays. the dogs are playing happily together.

but this weekend we sorted through furniture, and it was horrible. everything was a memory. everything was a story. it felt morbid and callous.

then we tried to be happy and do normal things but it just feels hollow.

i am most scared by that, that i feel like opting out entirely. i feel like everything is happening in a parallel universe. how can anything go on as normal? its all just pretend.

the problem i think for both trent and myself is that we are oldest childrens, and have had difficult histories where we have had to learn to be entirely self-sufficient and self-regulatory. we have been so busy the last week or so keeping everyone else together that there has been no time for feeling of our own, and so we look like we're holding up ok.

but i dont think we are really. apart from normal grieving process. whatever that is.

its just that when you are used to holding it together, you really dont know how to let it go. so i can feel us both drifting away from everything, into our own little worlds, where we dont have to make small talk or explain things to anyone. and then people think youre ok, and act like everythings ok, when its not, and what can you do when you create your own hell like that?!

the truth is, now that i am so totally estranged from my family, and trent has none of his own left, we really feel completely alone in the world, family wise. i always thought i was ok with that. but now im not so sure. suddenly family seems really important. i miss having one. i never did have one really, but i miss the idea of it.

i am thinking of writing a letter to my estranged ones and trying to sort things out. but what would be the point - ive tried before and nothing has changed so it seemed easier to let go.

and i suspect now isnt the time to be tackling those particular demons anyway.

in the meantime, i just dont really care what Student X thinks about the implications of anzac day, because he/she will probably tell me how important it is to remember our national heroes and who am i to argue about what constitutes heroism?

see, nothing morose and pathetic about this post!

i cant eat any more chocolate or i will explode. this is pretty tasty but:

and then theres the cute factor:

i should be thankful, at least i dont have a bucket on my head because i keep chewing my leg and tail out of anxiety. its all relative isnt it?!

thanks for listening.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

the new addition

one of the things that has happened since bob died is we have become the custodians of his dog, kostya (named after the boxer). he is not at all like his namesake. he is big and boofy and dopey and lovely and gentle. he is however, a cattle dog of some sort, and we didnt want another one of those. in fact, we didnt want another dog at all. but he needs more exercise and attention than K and The Kids can give him, so here he is:

the big one in the middle. he is getting along alright with the others and if it werent for the rain he would have started his flyball career tonight at training. speaking of rain:

12 days straight. how happy am i. i would be happy never to see the sun again. i really am such a pathetic misanthrope.

here is the shawl after i blocked it:

it has not stayed this flat however, and has curled up on itself again a wee bit. i will be taking care of that.

in the meantime, because i cant be bothered with the whole sticking of self with pins again, i have cast on these:

swirly girl socks from yarn in knittery merino/cashmere 'moses fire'. gorgeous colours, a pleasure to work with.

i am also headed down the foot finally of the first lichen rib sock in grey burrawool for trent.

thanks for the kind words. good advice about the chocolate. there is a very good reason they give it to wizards who have encountered the dementors!

i am reading everyones blogs i just dont have a lot to say right now, but am glad to hear everyone is doing ok.

k xx

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

starting over

well i am back home. the funeral for bob was yesterday. it was a lovely service, lots of people, great eulogies, catching up with long lost family etc. but it was so terribly sad to know we will never see him again. trent is a wreck, bobs partner is a wreck. its horrible to watch.

today feels very empty. i guess you dont realise how central someone was to your life until they're gone. there are now some life changes afoot but i cant blog about them yet. blogging itself seems a little weird.

not helped by the fact that i arrived home last night to find someone had left a comment on a post way back in february where i talked about the flyball nationals and what happened to our team there. it was a very nasty comment by a member of the opposition team, left anonymously. (i have now deleted the post and the comment).

i really hate internet trolls. when i find out who it was, and i will, there will be trouble. for all the joy that flyball brings our dogs, it brings me, as a person, so much grief to see the nasty, competitive, sneaky, cheating, mean spirited things that other people do to each other. nice work anonymous. really nice.

i blocked the shawl but it wasnt wet enough, i couldnt stretch it enough, and i was too impatient. i have to redo it. can i redo it?

and joy of joys, over the last few days i taught a 9 year old boy, emmanuel (minnie), my lovely step-brother-in-law (yes bob had a very complicated life) to knit. he is completely and utterly obsessed. love you min xx

will catch up with everyone over the next few days.
k xx

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

everything hurts

thanks to everyone for the lovely thoughts and kind words about bob's passing. it is still very painful of course, and everyone is very sad, and the nasty ex-wife-with-5-kids crap has started already, but trent as the oldest is in charge of everything and is keeping himself busy with organising etc. bobs most recent partner is the most fantastic woman, he said himself he finally got it right with her, and although she is absolutely shattered, she is determined that we stay part of her family, for which we are very grateful. the funeral wont be till next week as he is with the coroner (he died in hospital), so there will be more sadness to come. for now we are just trying to get through each day. i am so tired and sore, i feel like ive been hit by a truck!

i did manage to finish the shetland triangle (here it is unblocked):

and have just spent the last hour poking myself in the fingertips with sharp pins:

i obviously need blocking wires, i just couldnt stretch it out as much as i wanted to, and the points on the edges should be much pointier, but for a first effort i think it will come up lovely.

here are some detail shots in different light so you can see the colours and the circular fir cone pattern.

i am very proud of this, we are going to see kdlang on thurs night and i am going to wear it there!

hope everyone else is doing ok, i have not had much time to read blogs lately but will get to it.

k xx

Monday, April 14, 2008


in a terrible turn of events, we lost robert trevor shepherd, my beloved, loving, generous, crazy, frustrating, funny, father in law, on sunday april 13.

this poem reminds me of him.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

c. dylan thomas 1951

we miss him already

Friday, April 11, 2008

most peculiar mama

enough with the roller coaster ride - i've been so up and down i feel like throwing up! i think things might be starting to shift a bit though, despite my wanting to crawl into a cave and never speak to another human being again for as long as i live, people insist on talking to me, and i end up feeling better for it. yesterday it was teaching and then dog training, and then today it was meetings, and seminars and having our photo taken for the uni website re: The Book. i will post the link when it shows up.

in my previous post i may have mentioned that i got asked to leave my office, and that this contributed to my general malaise. well, i said i would but they would need to find me somewhere else because i have lots of work to do and this practice of hiring people to teach but not giving them offices to sit in is just crap (they do it because most of us are also postgrads and hence have these little postgrad offices). but they wanted my postgrad office for someone who is actually a postgrad, as opposed to me, who am now nothing in particular.

so they gave me somewhere else. i thought it would be some scungy little corner in a shared office with other non-persons.

turns out its a proper staff office, big desk, filing cabinets, shelves, newer PC rather than the rather ancient mac with the perpetual spinning-wheel-of-death. nice view over the creek and lawns. moving out of my old office feels weird but having this big space all to myself has been rather invigorating. i have a book proposal, a lecture, a seminar paper and 80 essays to mark over the next few weeks so i have resolved to spend as much time as possible in this new space, and not give anyone the satisfaction of skulking away, but using the facilities and resources as much as i can while my future decides what it will be.

at the moment i am torn between applying for a little part time publications editor job at the maritime museum or a full on sociology lectureship. i think its this internal indecision about what i want now that has thrown me for such a loop. and the strange fact that after 5 years of being buried in books, i have not emerged like a butterfly from the chrysalis, but am still the same old me!

strange days indeed.

k xx

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

rants and reflections on why its dangerous to judge books by their covers (long!)

it makes me very happy that it is raining, cool and grey today. i wouldnt go so far as to say cold, but definitely sub 20C. someone asked me yesterday why i was happy about it being grey and i said australia would be a much nicer place if it had a bit more miserable weather. too much sunshine is really not good for the soul.

speaking of which, the black dogs have been circling - yesterday i was pretty sure a whole pack of them had the house surrounded. the to-be-expected post-phd malaise has been compounded lately by the actions of some thoughtless persons, not intentional im sure, but still, being asked to leave my office at uni about 2 days after i submitted didnt really help with the 'im feeling un-appreciated' business. this was compounded when a proposal i put forward to create a kind of fellowship position for me within the faculty to keep my future research connected to the new research groups was met with something less than enthusiasm. ostensibly for bureaucratic reasons, but its hard not to take that stuff personally. and there are on-going issues with someone who i once called a friend but who has turned into a very critical, negative presence, and so i have pretty much resolved on cutting my ties with my current institution of higher learning and finding a new home somewhere else. i guess thats a good thing but it makes me sad. i have done a lot of work for my faculty and i know i am not an easy person, if only because i just dont tolerate injustice and hierarchies, and academia is full of both, but i did think that people might be able to focus on the work itself.

i know that there are injustices and hierarchies everywhere, but i dont think that that means i have to let go of my ideals. if everyone just said 'oh well, thats how it is, theres nothing i can do about it' then the whole world would go to hell in a handbasket and there'd be no justice anywhere. ideals are important, even if they are unrealistic. they are ideals not because they exist but because they give you something to aim for. i am not prepared to sacrifice them for the sake of my own career advancement, or to meet someones expectations of what success looks like. i am rather tired of people judging my life by the externals - by what they see rather than what they know. if i chose to opt out of the nasty careerism inherent to academia then that does not make me a failure. if i have markers of happiness that can not be measured in DEST points for publications, or if i think my intellectual gifts are better used in a practical setting, this does not mean i am weak, or cant hack it. if i choose to get up at 530am to get my partner his lunch and get him to the train, and cook dinner for us, because i recognise that my phd would not have been possible without him being a mouse on the wheel, then this does not make me oppressed.

> snip

so with all this going on, i sat there yesterday morning and watched the dogs circle and felt like maybe i couldnt leave the house - it was a great struggle to get in the car and drive to uni to teach my australian studies classes which this week are dealing with the connection between indigenous cultures and the formation of national identity. i really wasnt up to hearing anymore cliches about how the sorry was just symbolic and 'they' really do need to manage 'the funding they are given' properly. but we managed to get past that ok and i saw some young people trying really hard to think outside the square and bring back some compassion into their work. that was nice.

and then a couple of things happened. i got an email saying that a research centre in the faculty would like to pay for me to go to melbourne for a week in june for a big conference at which to promote our forthcoming book. four nights at the sebel albert park all paid for. thanks very much. (please send maps and details of yarn stores to my gmail address immediately!).

and then i checked my mail box. there was a box in it. from america. inside where five of these:

thats right, its out. officially published today. you can check it out here. they sent me five advance copies so we can try and have a bit of a launch before richard goes over to europe for a couple of months. people were passing me in the hallways saying congratulations and shaking my hand. it earns the faculty 8 DEST points, which is quite a lot apparently, not that i am counting or anything :) the faculty gets to apply for more funding because of it, and i personally get one point for my own chapter:

and half a point for this co-written chapter:

we get no individual points for the editing, which was really where all the hard work was, and we get no money, no royalties etc, but its all about the ideas isnt it?

i guess thats really my biggest problem, that it often ISNT about the ideas but about personal ego. >snip ...a lot of the editing work was about disengaging egos from obscure, and i would argue deliberately obscuring, language so that the ideas could come out. dont get me wrong, i am totally into theory, too much so for most historians, but it is useless if it doesnt make sense, if it doesnt illuminate. and thats my biggest problem with academic life as i have experienced it (not all of it in all places of course). this disconnection from the real world, this pontificating as though complicated ideas in and of themselves mean anything, can change anything. worse than that, is the practice of holding tight to ones own ideas, believing they are right and true, and that other people with different ideas are wrong. once that mentality sets in, critical thinking is in serious danger.


in much more interesting news, the shawl is now at 12 repeats, and the pattern was for 9:

i still have a large amount of yarn left, i am sure i can get one more repeat and then there are 10 rows of edging to do. how much does a shawl expand on blocking - as you can see its past pillow size now and takes up a lot of the lounge. is it possible to make a shawl too big?!

see, these are the serious questions of life. i should have done a phd on that.

k xx

ETA: after i wrote all this i realised i have been doing a lot of ranting lately so i apologise and i have gone back and snipped out some stuff that was unnecessary. i do need to 'talk' about stuff even if it is just on a blog, but i dont mean to go on and on about the same stuff. i will get over it, i swear!!

Friday, April 04, 2008

if it makes you happy...

someone pointed out to me the irony of a bank using that particular sheryl crow song given the next few lines (which they dont use) ask "then why the hell are you so sad". i would love to see them play more of it and watch all the banks mortgage customers yell "because youre charging me 10% interest" at their televisions.

anyway, it is the title to my post today because it is my personal mantra at the moment. a friend at uni who reads this blog wondered yesterday why i had not posted for a while and my honest answer was because i had nothing to say that wasnt bitter and twisted and full of angst. in other discussions it has been suggested that the best way to eventually pull myself out of the slump which i am in, is to surround myself with the things that make me happy.

despite the fact that he makes me very cranky at times, just by virtue of being his normal loving self, i would post a picture of trent but he is at work and i am not, therefore, currently surrounded.

in lieu of that, i post arty pics of the shetland triangle shawl in progress - right side up:

upside down:

here it is at its current size on a pillow so you can see how big it is:

and you can also see how much yarn i still have left. i dont think i have even used a third of the yarn, and i have done the suggested 9 pattern repeats. the pattern does say it is for 100g and i know this was 150g so i was always going to make it bigger, and i do want it big enough to really wrap around myself, so i am just going to keep going... its so lovely and soft and these gorgeous cicrcular lacey bits keep appearing, i am so enjoying making it. everything else has fallen by the wayside at the moment im afraid!

and because i am trying very hard to keep a certain black dog out of my house, here are the two creatures apart from trent that make me happier than anything else in the world:

apart from knitting the shawl. and chocolate. but that goes without saying!

k xx