Saturday, March 31, 2007

It's done.

For better or worse, it's in.

Late afternoon on Thursday, I realized that I could keep on obsessing, and reading, and checking, or I could just stop and begin printing.

I know there are things that could be better, and things that needed to be rearranged, but when your back is against a deadline, you do what you can.

And, Thursday morning, I was feeling nauseous and achey. I thought it was nerves, but I seem to now have full blown influenza. Fever, chills, heavy chest cough, nausea, aches, pains, the whole shebang. Even my eyeballs hurt.

So, I might stay here for the week. Haven't decided for sure, but we'll see.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

What a difference an hour makes.

And not in a good way.

I am officially sick. I feel like a nice big steaming pile of dog poo.

Sorry for the descriptors. I'm not apt to be very poetic this morning.

Blech.

The good, the bad and the ugly.

The good news first - Grammie made it through her surgery quite well, and is resting comfortably.

The bad - I only got about 3.5 hours of sleep last night, mostly because of nerves. I'm feeling sick (throat) and nauseous this morning, combined with tired. It's not going to be a good day.

The ugly - I can't really talk about that now. I had a really good day yesterday, up until about 5PM. Then it took the steepest of nosedives I've ever experienced. I guess in some ways it makes me even more determined to get this thing done, but in others, it just makes me want to throw in the towel.

We'll see.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Is it really Wednesday already?

Wow.

That was fast.

I really can't sit here and pontificate on the meaning of the past few days, but rest assured, I appreciate everything that's happened, and I appreciate the coping skills that I've been given.

So far, Grammie hasn't had her surgery (which will include wiring her radius, and a complete shoulder replacement) because she's stable and relatively comfortable. Mom is staying with her, and everyone is visiting, which is nice.

I'm going to probably hit 180 pages. Hopefully I'll hit them before Friday. I'm debating posting in the wee hours of the morning, during the collating process. That should be funny.

Almost there.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Dear God,

Hi God.

Sorry to bug you again, what with all the "please let this experiment work" and "please give me the energy to finish this chapter" and all. I'm trying; it's hard, but I'm trying.

Now, I know You know I love a challenge. Heaven kn... well, _You_ know... how stubborn I am. But, I think we're good on that front. Juggling is fun, especially since I learned to do it with everything in my life except for tennis balls, but I think maybe adding anything else could cause some drops.

A. tells me that You're not conspiring to make this PhD as hard as possible, but that You're just making it extra challenging so I'll be extra proud of myself at the finish line. I like to think that's true, and if so, I'm going to be the proudest newly minted PhD in the country.

Just please, no more balls*. My fortune cookie said I would "pass a difficult test"**; I just thought that it meant my PhD defense, not the rest of my life happening around it.

And, please take care of all the sick puppies and kitties. And their mommies and daddies.

Thank you... oh, and Amen.
Ellie.

*My grandmother had a fall today. A broken wrist requiring surgery and a plate for stabilization, and a dislocated shoulder plus a broken humerus, requiring surgery, possibly pinning, and definite immobilization for a while. The doctors say she's very healthy for 87 years, and that the surgery will be fine. Makes it a bit hard to concentrate, though.
**Seriously. I got that fortune about 4 months ago, and taped it to my laptop. Once I have a camera again, I'll take a picture.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Well, THAT was silly.

I just realized that down here, I titled the post about my Dad, but posted a pic of my Mom. Duh.
Doesn't he look sharp, with his fu manchu?

He's super. He's so super that he's going to come to the lab with me on Thursday night and help me collate about a zillion copies of this thesis. Well, it's only seven copies, but seven copies times 160 pages is almost 1200 pages in total, and approximately 280 of those have to be fed through the color laser printer a page at a time. He helped with Hubby's thesis in February, when there were 11 final copies to print for binding. (Yes, you got that right. I print off seven copies now, for my committee, and then I print out 11 more, since the first seven will be useless once corrections are made). Please, no comments from people wanting to save trees. I want to save trees too, but they make us do this.

And, just because there's no knitting, and I didn't have a camera to take a shot of the beautiful sunrise this morning, here are some flowers Hubby gave me in September.




(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

Friday, March 23, 2007

A slightly manic rainbow.

Well.

I guess I'm getting my rainbow - I just finished inserting figures and tables into Chapter 1 and 2, and I'm at 62 pages (75 if you count the Table of Contents, Figure list, table list, etc. etc.). That's about exactly where I wanted to be.

And, putting those figures and tables and things in was much less painful (so far) than I ever expected.

And, I have a place to live, more or less. My dad is up on business during the week, so I'll be able to crash with him. It means taking a bus instead of being within a five-minute walk of the lab, but it also means I can take his car if I want to come back in late at night, and I won't have to worry about cabs and late busses and things like that.

Friend #2 is going through some family things, including the untimely death of her grandfather, from pancreatic cancer. I had originally thought that she might want to have someone else around, to distract her and all that, so we were trying to work it out. But, in the end, we both decided that we'd each end up wanting to kill each other, and that the two different negative energies would just cause a major meltdown eventually. I could beg to stay with Friend #1, but since C. has exams, it's not right to force my schoolwork to take priority over his. I don't want to wear out my welcome with A. & C., and I don't want to put either of the friendships in jeopardy, since they're both so important to me.

I'll get there. I can see it. It's just up over the hill, right over there. Do you see it?

It never rains, but it pours.

Still waiting for the rainbow half of today.

It's nothing that I can't handle, and I do have contingency plans, but it turns out that Friend #2 is unable to house me at all, and Friend #1 has to kick me out from April 6th to April 19th.

I'm homeless.

(Well, like I said, there are contingencies, but I still feel rather abruptly thrown around.)

More later, since I have muchos work to do.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

It's odd, really.

I'm doing pretty good so far today (knock on wood). I've managed to fill in some of the gaps that the boss pointed out, and in doing so cranked out another page. I'm even going to reward myself with a walk down the hill to mail a card to Hubby and maybe drop in to the grocery store for a snack.

The funny part is, even though I feel Ok, and am keeping myself focussed on a single task at a time, I'm feeling rather emotional.

The blue jays are watching me through the window, and I'm sure they think I'm crazier than most humans - I pace around the room, doing the "make-up cry" - you know the one, where you wave your hands to cool off your face, but you look like you're trying to dry some imaginary nailpolish, and you've got your eyes turned up to the ceiling, because somehow that manages to keep the tears from starting and ruining your mascara.

Whether I loved or hated my projects, whether I loved or hated any of my lab mates (I plead the fifth), whether or not it's all worth it - this has been my life, and this city my home, for over 10 years (not all grad school, thank heavens). It's familiar, and that's comforting, but it's not comfortable anymore, and I know it's time to move on.

And that, my friends, is scary.

My Dad - what a guy.

Dad recently got his and Mom's grad photos re-done, from 1971. They were completely sun-bleached, and needed to be color corrected.

(Dad's on this big photo kick, ever since Mom surprised him a few years ago by getting his parents' wedding photo restored. He's all about the preservation.)

I will make one comment - this one is slightly off. Mom's eyes are really green, like mine, but the tech made them hazel, since the original he was working from was so faded.

Even so, isn't my mom beautiful?

Dad picked these up one afternoon, and showed me while Mom was still at work. His eyes filled with tears, and when I asked why, he said,

"This is how I see your mom, always. She's just as beautiful today as the day we met."


(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

A rainbow day.

(with apologies to wherever I read this first - I think it was a comic strip in 1988).

When you have a day that's filled with both bad and good, it's a rainbow day. When dreary grey skies lead to a beautiful rainbow, you are sometimes filled with melancholy that gets crowded out by a peaceful feeling of blessing and love.

Yesterday was not great. I had a moderately productive morning (relatively speaking), and took a jaunt down the hill to the grocery store during a particularly sunny moment. The whole trip only took 30 minutes, and I got some lovely produce, so I was really feeling good.

Mid-afternoon, I started feeling anxious again. I was chatting with my husband online during his break, and I broke. I felt like I was never going to be finished, and that I didn't have enough written, and that this thesis was going to be laughed at. It was terrible.

Hubby called, and walked me through it. "You have X pages of text. You think that's not enough, but what happens when you add on your X pages of figures and figure legends? And your X pages of tables? Plus your X pages of references? Doesn't that bring you well within the reasonable range that most profs prefer to read?"

(Damn, I hate when he's logical)

So, in the end, because my working thesis file is text only, and has none of the other bits imported in, I'm within the acceptable limits of page count.

I then sat down over the evening, and including watching an hour of TV, managed to write another three pages and four figure legends.

My brain knows that I have eight days left, and that it'll be enough time. I'll be OK. The panic usually sets in when I try to think of everything that's left to do in the context of doing it in one day. There's no way I could finish in one, two, or even three days, but dammit, I have EIGHT.

I'm moving in with Kind Friend #2 on Sunday, hopefully. That'll let me work weird hours, instead of following the circadian rhythm of this place. I'd intended on watching a second hour of TV last night (watch show #1 from 9pm to 10pm, work until 11pm, watch show #2 until midnight), but as much as I want to know what happens in that infernal show, I couldn't fathom staying up.

But, I do loves me some internets, where I can find out what happens because people love to share ;-)

Don't get me wrong - I love A. and C. They're so good to me, letting me monopolize their internet connection, and cooking extra chicken and rice. A. has known me so long, she knows where I'll go off track, and in her (annoyingly) perky (morning) voice will encourage me to "get back at it, almost done!"

So, for today, I'm filling in gaps. I might go into lab to do some printing, I might not. It'll depend on whether Friend #2, who goes by the name of F., will be around today or tomorrow to give me her spare keys.

*Sigh* Nearly there.

I'll take a break later and look for some pictures to post. It's getting a little dull around here.

ETA: I also woke up before the alarm again this morning. A full hour before the alarm. I'm pretty sure it's anxiety, because I can hear my breathing when I wake up, and I sound like I've run a 10K in 30 min's, with a chest cold. Calm is one thing I'm looking forward to ;-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I neglected to mention . . .

. . . that I woke up this morning, a full 25 minutes before the alarm was due to go off, with a full-on anxiety attack.

Ouch.

I made myself stay in bed until it passed, which took about a half hour.

The day so far hasn't been too bad. I'm still really scatterbrained, and can usually only concentrate for about 15 minutes at a stretch, but I'll be OK.

;-)

Tuesday sucked.

Not much more to say than that.

No, I take that back; it didn't completely suck. I had dinner with Mom and Dad, both in town for work-related things.

And I figured out some technical issues.

And I wrote a page-ish.

I need to write about 10 more. That's the sucky part.

;-)

Monday, March 19, 2007

An absolutely wonderful day!

Well.

I went to bed early last night (before 10PM!), and rolled out of bed at 6:30AM. I managed to get ready in time to catch the bus with A. at 7:55AM, make it into work by 8:25AM, and shock the pants off everyone ;-)

(My usual arrival time is somewhere in between 9:45AM and 10:30AM)

The boss was in, and in a good mood to boot. We chatted for a few minutes, then I got organized. I sent out a few key emails (including one to the dean to update her on my timeline; she's been helping me out because of my situation), and did a little bit of work.

I left around 10AM to walk downtown for some quick errands. Forty-five minutes later, I had toothpaste, tea, pears, strawberries, red peppers, carrots, a cheap backpack and a shocking pink carry-on suitcase. I'd forgotten toothpaste at Mom's, needed the foodstuffs for my afternoon's work, and a backpack to carry papers back and forth to the lab (instead of taking file boxes on the bus). The carry-on is a necessity, too; I'd been using my brother's, but he's hundreds of miles away, so Hubby and I only had one between us. I went for pink because it's easy to spot - one of the connecting flights I'll be taking often in the next few years has no space for carry-on (bug-smasher 18 seat prop plane), so it'll be easy to spot when I get off and have to get moving quickly to make my connections.

And (say it with me now) -

I do love me some pink.

It is pi-HINK; bright/dark, not fuschia, not bubblegum. The closest I can find online is html color code FF 14 93, which isn't an option as a blogger font color, but is somewhere on this page.

I packed up my pink suitcase, and caught the bus back to the apartment. With some phone assistance, I figured out the sequence of five remote controls, and watched a little satellite TV while eating lunch.

I spent the afternoon going through the boss's comments, and PRAISE THE LAWD, they were kind. I have a couple of spots where it's under-referenced, but that's easy because it doesn't involve re-writing. No sections were horrible, I didn't get too many details wrong, and he even made a couple of jokes here and there.

A. and I then had dinner - some lovely fish with a crumby lemon crust, rice, and veg. We took a quick jaunt to the grocery store, which is a five minute walk away, and I stocked up on things I couldn't get from the downtown market today - diet pepsi, grapes on sale, melon, bread, and a bit of chocolate for energy ;-)

Hubby called, and he had a good day, but a late start. I call him to make sure he gets up every morning, since he has a tendency to go back to bed even after getting up, making coffee, and talking to me. We'd made a pact - every day that he goes back to bed *after* we talk in the morning, he owes me a skein of yarn. We talked this morning, and he sounded good. He went back to bed, though, after promising me he wouldn't, which is fabulous for me. The LYS down there is about five minutes from the new apartment; up until today, I'd been expecting that he'd buy me one or two nice luxury skeins for a scarf. He shamefully admitted tonight that he owes me a LOT of yarn.

All of that brings me to right now - working on figures while A. is off to the local craft store for some home decor inspiration (I wasn't allowed to go). C. came home from school, and he has an exam tomorrow, so he's studying in the other room.

Yay, me!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

One positive aspect to this entire journey

(there are more than one, I'm sure; I just have a hard time coming up with lots at once)

I just realized that, throughout this whole process, I never have to be alone.

I stayed with my mom for nearly a month, and now I get to stay with two of my closest friends, off and on with each, over the next month until this whole thing is finished. I rarely, if ever, have to come home after a long day at the lab to an empty apartment and dinner for one.

My friend A. met me in the city, and drove me back to her loverly new apartment. Her boyfriend had dinner ready for us - chicken parm with garlic bread (we knew he was a keeper before this, but WOW!), and now they're watching travel shows (keeping me away from trash TV) while I get organized for tomorrow.

I also got the draft back from the boss this afternoon, and I haven't had the heart to look at it. I'm too mentally exhausted. BUT - he said that everything so far was pretty good, just that there were parts missing (duh; I'd given him all that was done to the point of three weeks ago - many things have been filled in since then).

I printed it all out, and all the figures I have so far, and it's pretty good. Tonight I feel comfortable with everything, which is mostly why I won't read the comments yet - I want a good night's sleep ;-)

Tomorrow, off to work to reclaim my desk (the damn vultures) and pick up some groceries, then back here to write for the afternoon.

Ciao!

And, they're OFF!

The thesis-mobile is heading out in an hour. Five hours back to Uni., then some sleep, then back at it.

I'll likely be posting sporadically, since my laptop may not work on my friend's home network, and posting at work is likely to be perceived poorly, shall we say ;-)

Keep the good thoughts coming!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Ack! Ack! Ack!

I'm leaving tomorrow!

The clothing is packed - one suitcase to tide me over while I finish up, and the rest went into the grandpappy suitcase, which Hubby will fly back with after my defense. That way, I won't have to roll through an airport by myself with two big suitcases.

I'm not going to be completely finished Chapter 4 before leaving, but it'll be at least halfway there. I have a hard time working efficiently when the pressure of the last minute (or the last week) isn't on. If I work 10-12 hours a day for the next 10 days, I'll be done with no problem.

Ack.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The plan is in place for next week.

So, the boss's email the other night, that freaked me out, was basically him asking to see the rest of the thesis. It actually seems like he was expecting me to stay with my parents until the bitter end, instead of going back to the city to make sure I'm within walking distance of the uni. to finish this thing up.

Which is good.

I'll be hitching a ride with my Dad on Sunday, since he's got business in the city next week. Move in with Friend #1, and keep on keepin' on.

The fun part is - my Mom has a conference in the city on Wednesday and Thursday, so we'll be able to go out to dinner :-)

We're past the halfway point - 30 days since Hubby left, 26 days until he comes to visit.

My thanks.

I thought I'd share my acknowledgements with you. I had finished this ages ago, with the occasional teensy edit; my husband has seen it (and cried), but since no one else knows I have a blog, I think it's ok to post it.

I've changed names, and then replaced them with bogus initials, in order to protect the innocent ;-)

_________________________________________________

Here, in what is arguably the most important part of the thesis, I will follow the traditional verbose format, of our family. In no hard and fast order, I thank those who have held me up and brought me forward these past years.

First, to my mentors, X. and N. By accepting me into the lab, you have shown me what it’s like to be amongst greatness. X. – I am truly honoured to have been part of such a vibrant, exciting research program. N. – you are an exceptional scientist, and an example to women in research.

To all X. lab members, past and present – I thank you for making it such a joy to come to work each and every day. In particular, I have to mention M.A. and B.D. – you both took extra time to make me feel welcome, and you showed me that real people work here.

S., M., and D. – I thank you for keeping the lab running, and also keeping us on the ball. I would not have survived without your help in planning, DNA sequencing, and general lab support. You are all gems.

To A.L. – my fellow grad student, neighbor, and dear friend. I thank you for being there to share in everything non-academic that comes with being a grad student. Sometimes I think we’ve both been given much more to handle than average twenty-somethings, but you’ve always shown impeccable poise and grace.

To M.R. – I thank you for providing an example of the harmony that can be created from teaching, research, student advising, and family life. You encouraged me to follow my own path, and helped give me the tools to clear the way.

To the people who led me to the Uni., and supported my academic aspirations from a very early age - every student has teachers that they mark as central to their development as both students and people, and I am especially blessed in this area.

The late M.E.C. had the dubious task of helping a precocious fourth grader through her first set of challenges (including long division, and the passing of dear Papa), with a kind hand and unwavering love and encouragement. D.B., who treated all of her English students as prodigies, taught me never to suppress my creativity. I know she wanted me to be a writer; this thesis may not be what she had in mind, but I write with my heart because of her.

Finally, the “triumvirate” of my high school – R.C., J.B., and K.D., who taught Chemistry, Physics, and Biology – gave me a great love for the sciences. I cannot chose between them. R.C., who never slows down, keeps me ‘energetically’ inspired, and instilled in me a love of teaching. J.B., whose very first teaching experience involved 15 or so headstrong overachievers, has grown into a distinguished department head. He showed me the importance of patience and respect between student and teacher, which I couldn’t fully understand until I was on the other side of the desk, so to speak. K.D. has left our high school to lead our rivals as principal, but he is directly responsible for my present interest in molecular biology – his first class on DNA transcription and translation stuck with me, and I still refer to his handouts.

And, finally, to my family. I give them my love and thanks in no particular order, because sibling/spousal/parental rivalry is the last thing I want to create.

Big Bro – I had hoped we would end up writing our theses at the same time, and I have to admit that it’s been difficult to be left behind. I thank you for paving the way, and for showing me that it can, indeed, be done. Your time in graduate school was not easy; in fact, it seemed like people were purposely trying to knock you down. You refused to fall, and ended up soaring. L.N. is a lucky woman.

Little Bro – thank you for reminding me what it took for me to get here, and the place I was in not so long ago. We started on the same road, but you had the harder journey. Your perseverance has paid off, and I am so proud of you. You are a shining example of why we should fight for our dreams, but not forget to thank God for unanswered prayers.

Hubby – thank you for being you. We got to know each other as colleagues, then as friends, and now we’re husband and wife. You understand, probably better than anyone, what this expedition has meant, and I could not have done it without your love and support. You are the greatest gift that graduate school has given me.

Grammie – All you’ve known for the past ten years is that we’ve been working hard, and that school keeps us away from home more than you’d like. Thank you for encouraging us to take the time to relax and visit, and for being a constant in our lives.

Mom – thank you for keeping me grounded, and making me realize there’s more to life than academics. You truly are the keystone to our family, and the most difficult of days can be made better just by hearing your voice.

Dad – you often lament how hard work goes unrecognized these days. As students, we pour our blood, sweat, and tears into our education. We try to fulfill the requirements we’re given, and to excel beyond the expected, but the rules inevitably change; you have to sit back and watch as the rug gets pulled out from under our feet. Sometimes it seems like we can never quite get the recognition or reward that we deserve. But we, as your children, know every day how proud you are of us.

That is my reward.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

100 reasons I love my husband.

I'm missing him particularly today, and on days like this, it helps to think about how wonderful he is, and why I'm trying so hard to finish this thesis.

  1. He loves me unconditionally.
  2. He is the most polite and respectful man I know.
  3. He comes from a good, kind family, and embraced that instead of distancing himself when he went away to university.
  4. He takes care of his mother.
  5. He followed his dreams to come to university, when most people in his hometown don't usually leave it; we wouldn't have met otherwise.
  6. He stays true to himself - he gave up a spot in medical school to pursue his PhD, because that's what he knew he was meant to do.
  7. He brings me flowers when I'm having a bad day.
  8. He puts up with my moodiness, and migraines.
  9. He dropped everything when my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer, cancelled all of his appointments, and took a road trip so we'd be there when she got out of surgery.
  10. He translates for me when we visit his family, since I don't speak the same language.
  11. He notices when I get a haircut.
  12. He tells me I'm stunning whenever I get dressed up, and I can see in his eyes that he means it.
  13. He tells me I'm beautiful when I'm in my sweats, and I can see in his eyes that he means it ;-)
  14. He does the dishes.
  15. He hates doing laundry, but will fold it because he knows I hate folding.
  16. He lets me sleep in when he knows I'm tired.
  17. He takes pictures of things he thinks I'd appreciate, like flowers and squirrels.
  18. He loves to cook, but lets me take turns because he knows I love it too.
  19. He introduced me to international cuisine, and lots of local cuisine that I had never tried before.
  20. For our third date, he spent the entire day cooking, took the time to come to church with me in the middle of his dinner prep, and still managed to get a four-course gourmet meal on the table in time.
  21. He helped with planning our wedding.
  22. He chose most of the music for our wedding ceremony, because he's a trained classical pianist; he wanted everything to have meaning, and it did :-)
  23. He has lovely curly brown hair.
  24. He doesn't snore.
  25. He goes to craft fairs with me.
  26. He's waiting for me to arrive in the new apartment before decorating or even buying new furniture, because it's the first place that's "ours", instead of "my apartment" that he moved into after the wedding.
  27. He emails me every day, to tell me that I'm going to be OK.
  28. When he tells me about his day, he never complains, because he knows that staying positive helps me stay positive.
  29. He tries to make friends with the cat when we visit my parents.
  30. He makes an effort to do "guy stuff" with my brothers, because he feels like they're his brothers too.
  31. He follows me into yarn stores, even when we're on strict time schedules, and answers honestly when I ask him for opinions.
  32. He lets me put ladybug things around the apartment.
  33. He watches bad reality TV if that's what I want to watch.
  34. He holds doors open, and pulls out chairs for me.
  35. When I give him schmoopy greeting cards, he cries.
  36. When we only had one cell phone, he made me take it so I'd be safe.
  37. He'll give me the last of the pepsi.
  38. He always helps me to put my coat on.
  39. He lets me buy shoes, even when I don't need them.
  40. He loves my parents.
  41. He makes me soup when I'm sick.
  42. If I fall asleep on the couch, he turns off the lights, puts a blanket on me, and turns off the TV.
  43. He listens when I bang on about knitting patterns.
  44. If he doesn't understand what I'm talking about when I'm telling him about yarn, he asks me to explain ("Is sock yarn different than other yarn? I thought yarn was just yarn.")
  45. He asks for my opinion when he buys clothes.
  46. He's actually a very sharp dresser on his own.
  47. He doesn't leave dirty socks (or anything else) lying around.
  48. He gets excited, just like a little kid, over big construction machines, cranes, helicopters, and pick-up trucks.
  49. He lets me drive, because he knows I enjoy it.
  50. He has good taste in music.
  51. He asked my father for my hand in marriage, not because he felt he needed permission, but because he knew my father would appreciate the gesture.
  52. He proposed in front of my entire family, because they're a big part of my life.
  53. For our first Valentine's Day as a married couple, he went to the ritziest restaurant in the city, and got them to prepare a special box of handmade chocolates (the box was chocolate too) which was only served on their prix fixe menu.
  54. He laughs at my jokes.
  55. He has a cute butt ;-)
  56. He makes me coffee in the morning.
  57. He lets me have the remote control.
  58. He watches classic Disney cartoons with me, and laughs like a maniac at old Looney Tunes episodes.
  59. He has no idea how nice he is.
  60. He makes me slow down and sit outside on nice summer days.
  61. He love to straighten up clutter.
  62. He kills bugs for me.
  63. He's embraced my friends as his own.
  64. He lovingly agreed to be Godfather to N., the youngest daughter of my oldest and closest friend.
  65. He wants babies.
  66. Most of the time he's really afraid to hold babies, but he's really good at it and they love him.
  67. He's going to visit the LYS in the new city, and buy me a prezzie before I move down, because he knows how much I love knitting.
  68. He still wears the first present I ever gave him, which happens to be a (store-bought) scarf.
  69. He tucks me in when I'm really tired.
  70. He lets me take care of him when he's sick.
  71. He apologizes when he messes up.
  72. He forgives me when I mess up.
  73. He makes crèpes on Sunday mornings.
  74. He has brown, puppy-dog eyes, and loves to try to make me give in to them.
  75. I can be my true self, one hundred percent, around him.
  76. When I'm in a bad mood, he sometimes runs on the assumption that he screwed up, and apologizes just in case.
  77. He tucks my hair behind my ear.
  78. He makes sure that whenever either one of us is having a bad day, we don't go to sleep angry.
  79. When I'm up with a migraine, he stays up with me until it starts to abate.
  80. He buys the good parmesan when he's cooking dinner.
  81. He calms me down when my boss emails to ask about my thesis progress.
  82. He helps me compose replies to my boss's emails, which effectively get the point across that I've been working my tuchus off.
  83. He can make me believe in myself again after I've had a bad day.
  84. He encourages me to try things that I might be afraid to do, and go after opportunities that may scare me.
  85. He's become very financially responsible, because he knows it's very important to me.
  86. He loves knitted socks.
  87. He's reading my thesis drafts and commenting on them, even though he also has to study new lab protocols for his new job.
  88. He will still drop everything, 800 miles away, if I need to talk.
  89. We can talk for hours and hours and days and weeks and never run out of things to say to each other.
  90. Whenever we run into my last ex, instead of getting jealous or angry (long story), he puts his arm around my shoulder, grins, and says, "I win!"
  91. He always says "good morning" and "I love you" first thing when he wakes up.
  92. He doesn't make me feel guilty when I procrastinate over something, but he's the only one that can encourage me to get things done.
  93. In the new city, he emails me right before leaving work for the day, so I don't worry about him walking home.
  94. He calls me every morning when we're in separate cities.
  95. He also calls me every night (yay for free long distance).
  96. He lets me finish his sentences, because I usually know what he's thinking.
  97. He knows I'm not perfect, but he tells me that I am.
  98. He is perfect, but thinks that he's not.
  99. He's my best friend.
  100. He's my Hubby :-)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Prezzies a-waitin' for me

According to Hubby, all of my treats that I ordered have arrived!

The Schoolhouse Press Spun-outs came on Friday (I think it was Friday) - I ordered five of them, and they were nicely tucked in an envelope, all the right ones.

Last night, the stitch markers from zerØ came. Hubby took some pictures, as best as could be accomplished at 10PM on a black coffee table:

Cream and pale pink freshwater pearls - very dainty and feminine.

These are champagne colored, with one tahitian black pearl - very sophisticated!

And a little surprise was tucked into the bubblewrap:
One icy blue-white marker, and one beautiful, warm earthtoned marker.

They're absolutely beautiful, and so different from each other. I can't wait to use them - I'm thinking maybe a Clapotis, although that calls for 18, and I have 14. I guess I'll just have to order more!

The funniest part of the whole thing: Hubby still doesn't understand how they're used! He's trying to figure it out, but I think I'll have to send him a picture or link.


(Stitch markers from zerØ, all images copyright E. Boudreau)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A *fairly* productive day

Well, today was relatively good. I took a drive downtown into civilization, and the deep freeze seems to be over. It almost crept above freezing :-)

Hubby had a productive shopping day - his aunt and uncle from the neighbouring town took him to the local big box stores (which are a 30$ cab ride from the new apartment). He stocked up on some of the food staples he needs, but he didn't get the shelving units I wanted... that leaves more shopping for us to do when I get there, though, so that's not too bad... we can order Ikea and I'll wait for the delivery!

We've also figured out his flights to come up for my defense, which is nice. Only 4.5 more weeks until he gets here!

I'm hoping to get up early tomorrow and be productive again. Chapter 4 is breathing down my neck.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Small blessings, sort of.

The cat has decided he's the princess of the house.

Princess does not want me around, or my mother for that matter, and lets us know this by biting and snapping at any human within five feet, and running up to attack our calves as we walk away.

Now THAT's the Booger I've come to know and love over the years. The one that requires us to wear thick denim in order to prevent injury.

It's good, because I can be sneeze-free for a while. Bad, because I've lost my companion for the day.

(Oh, and I decided on an early lunch. It involved cake. Say no more. I'll be making healthy chicken, red pepper, and mushroom pasta for dinner.)

I dreamed about knitting last night.

Is that a bad sign?

I didn't even think about it during the evening... I took a break and watched America's favourite talent show (which I'm now boycotting, but that's another story), and I had even gone out earlier. It was a fairly good evening, all in all; I visited a local store that's recently moved into a renovated space that's about five times the size, and it's beautiful. Mom and I bought Easter cards for the Hubby, the Brothers, and my Goddaughter, and even succumbed to temptation and bought some new eye makeup. It was a really good break :-)

But, I woke up after dreaming of needles and stitch markers and fuschia yarn (Fuschia? Where did the fushia come from? And, I thought most people dreamed in black and white; obviously not me).

I'm still feeling OK today. I realized something last night, which was similar to my other epiphanies - even though I have four file boxes full of papers, I don't have to include them all, or even read them. If I remember roughly what's in them, then I'll be OK.

Now, the only decision that remains is whether to eat a very late breakfast, or skip it and have an early lunch.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Mood Swinging 101

Lesson #1
This too shall pass.

It's better today; I keep reminding myself that, in a lot of cases, no one cares about your actual PhD work ;-)

I've skipped over a small section of Chapter 3 (dealing with Project #1) because it was giving me panic attacks; fortunately it's not too long, and I know I can do it, just not right now. I'm working on Chapter 3, Project #2 and #3 for the rest of the day, which should be fine. I promised myself that I'd have Chapter 3 done by Friday, and even if it takes me until 11:59PM, it'll be done, dammit.

The cat has also now become my best friend, which isn't the blessing that it could be. My immune system is getting overloaded, and the mega-antihistamines can't handle it all. I'm starting to get more hives and more sneezing, just when the meanest cat in the world has decided that I'm his mom. He's chuffing like a tiger; instead of a continuous purr, he makes these little "ruff ruff" noises in his throat and head-butts me until I pet him.

Don't get me wrong - it's nice, after 10 years, that he's decided I'm good people, and he's good company during the day. I just wish I could be his buddy without getting so sick ;-)

Hubby is having a good week at his new job. His boss had a grant rejected earlier in the week; it wasn't a major one, and it wasn't like the lab was going to suffer, but it's still a bummer. So, Hubby came across three more grants that they can apply for (they seem to be quite well suited to the criteria) and printed them out for her to find when she came in this morning. When she found his printouts, she was ecstatic - she even called him a genius! Yay, Hubby!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Paralysis, the sequel.

Grrr.

This always happens.

One bad email turns me into a complete mess. I keep getting wonderful emails from Hubby, and I know in my heart that I'm so close to finishing this thing, but it hurts. I still have the spectre of failure hanging over my head, and it scares me.

If I could just get something accomplished, I would feel better.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Oh. Dear.

Finally got email from the boss this morning. After three and a half weeks, he's read the draft I gave him. I barely remember how bad it was, so it should be interesting to see what sorts of comments are there.

And, yes, I'm freaking out.

I've forwarded the email to Hubby for some reassurance, and I'm trying to just chug along today as if nothing happened. One of the comments in the email mentioned how Chapter 3 seemed to be just preliminary text. It was, when I gave it to him over three weeks ago (grr), and I'm hoping I've fixed that.

He also called my writing discursive. Is it a bad sign that I had to look that up?

discursive \dis-KUR-siv\, adjective:
  1. Passing from one topic to another; ranging over a wide field; digressive; rambling.
  2. Utilizing, marked by, or based on analytical reasoning -- contrasted with intuitive.

I'm going to assume he meant the second definition, and correct for the first one on my own.


*Sigh*. I had such a good day yesterday; I finished compiling the data for several figures, by doing complicated things with very silly little Mac-only computer programs, and I felt productive.

Then, for no apparent reason, I picked a fight with Hubby over the phone at about 11PM. It was silly, I was complaining about stupid things, things he'd said that I'd misinterpreted and things he hadn't even done, and all the while there was a tiny voice in the back of my head saying, "You're just trying to push him to be mad at you. Why?"

We're OK now; I kept him on the phone until I could apologize and mean it. I just figure I had a premonition about today and wanted to get my anxiety out beforehand.


Maybe I'm being punished for spending so much time with yarn yesterday ;-) and it's not over yet, since I still need to show off Mom's STR in Rolling Stone (that second link may not work after a while - the colorway is available at the moment, but I'll remove it if necessary):

A pretty little center-pull ball, wound up on New Years Day. I forgot to take a pic of the skein :-(

It's a really strong combination of purple, navy, green, wine, and a little brown thrown in for warmth and character. I do love it as much as my others, but Mom chose this one for herself.

And so the story goes ;-)

I sent my brother on a wild yarn chase before Christmas, under the direction that he could kill several birds with one stone, and get lots of gifts for lots of people with one stop. STR is sold about 8 blocks from his apartment, and that means no shipping charges like if I'd ordered from the website. He'd already agreed to buy me one skein of STR for my gift, and a second one for Big Bro to give to me (two brothers, both willing to give me yarn for Christmas; they're the best brothers ever).

So, that was two skeins.

I suggested to him that he could buy one for Mom, since she's getting back into knitting because of me, and she'd probably really appreciate it. Besides, she doesn't order off the internet, and there aren't many sources for luxury yarns here in our little home town.

That was three skeins.

Finally, I'd ordered a bunch of DVDs for Dad online (ones that are out of production - a really good find, although kind of pricey). So I told Little Bro that he could contribute funds to the Dad DVD selection, and that would take care of his gift to Dad. (Little Bro was so busy with school that he hardly had time to go shopping in the HUGE city that he now lives in, which was a bit of a pity.)

I then told L.B. to take that money that he was going to pay me for the DVDs, and put it to another skein of STR for me - since that's what I was going to spend it on anyway, he just happened to save me the shipping costs.

That's four skeins - four gifts with one-stop shopping. One for Mom, three for me (well, four in my stash if you count the Sealrock)

Ain't I a stinker? :-)

He picked out colors that he thought we'd like, all lightweight, and brought them home. I'd specifically requested a super-pinkety-pink, hence the Apple Valley Rd. The other two, Highway 30 and Rocktober, have orange in them, which both L.B. and I love, so he wanted me to have those. He chose the Rolling Stone for Mom, since she loves navy and wine and green, but we pooled them all together after Christmas morning and told Mom she could pick whichever she wanted, including the Sealrock mediumweight that I had from before.

She still chose the Rolling Stone ;-)


(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

Monday, March 5, 2007

Loopholes, part deux

Here are the two former useless dishcloths, now waiting patiently for this thesis to be completed so they can realize their true form.

We may look harmless, but just you wait!

A bonus - when I dug them out for their debut, I found these:

We're big, we're bad, we're big bad balls ;-)

I had forgotten that I'd convinced Mom to buy some kitchen cotton over Christmas - two gargantuan 12-oz skeins, one straw colored with speckles, and the other a garish rainbow - and we split both down the middle (these are hers; my halves are in the new apartment with Hubby).

(more STR tomorrow - I found Mom's Christmas present, which I'd thriftily wound for her before going back to work)

(All images copyright E. Boudreau)

Oh, how I love loopholes

(Or: "How I managed to fondle some yarn without technically breaking my vow of knitting celibacy")

This morning, I was chatting with Mom in the kitchen, making some tea before she headed off to work. I managed to bust a teabag, and was digging through one of the drawers for a tiny strainer, and came upon her stash of handknit dishcloths.

(FYI I have very strong opinions on knit dishcloths, although I've never spoken of them before. I love them, love using them, love how they look when they're new and fresh and pretty. I love their nice, soft cotton colors. I do not love the weird and wonderful stitches that some people use to make them lacy and pretty and flimsy - those are only nice to look at for a little while. If a knit dishcloth isn't done at a tight enough gauge, it stretches all to hell as soon as you get it wet, and can't scrub worth s#it. I knit mine in garter, usually with needles two sizes down from the recommended size, and just make them bigger. Yarn-overs are acceptable when making a border, but that's it.)

a-HEM.

So, I was sorting through, and I found the first one I ever made (awwww), along with two of the aforementioned lacey ones. They had garter borders, but were all twisted mesh on the inside. Very pretty, completely useless, but yet brand new. We pondered over them, and before Mom could say froggie, I had one half-unravelled. She hates to waste anything, and would probably have eventually used these, cursing all the while, before giving up after a week and throwing them out. Between the two of us, we took 6 minutes, ripped them both out, and wound them into two nice, neat little balls of cottony goodness. One is vareigated pinks (yay pink!), and the other is the nice, soft buttery yellow color that I want to make a baby wardrobe out of.

(If I can find Mom's digital camera, I'll take a picture... provided she lets me near them - they've already been hidden from me, since I know where she keeps her needles.)

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Melancholy

Today is one of those days. My husband warned me that they would come - for every day that I have where I believe that I'm on track, and can finish this thing, he told me there would be a day where it all seems hopeless, and I'm miserable, and I'll just want to give up.

Today is one of those days.

I felt it coming on last night. Even though I felt pretty good about where I was with everything, I went to bed missing Hubby terribly. It's a dull ache pretty much every day, but I can usually keep it at bay. We'd gotten the whole thesis-writing thing down to a system before Christmas, in terms of helping one another out with cooking, laundry, formatting figures, editing grammar, and those sorts of things. We work really well together, and most importantly, we work really well together while being in each other's personal space.

Here, I have Mom to help with the laundry and the cooking, and she does the grocery shopping. I have my own space, a huge room that's over half the size of our old apartment, and I don't have to work around anyone else.

I didn't realize how much I'd miss having Hubby around. Not to help with the laundry, or correct my grammar, but to just be. I knew he was the one for me when I discovered several years ago that not only could we talk for hours and hours, but that we could spend time together in companionable silence. Just looking over to see the back of his head, with its mop of brown curls, is usually enough to bring me out of the deepest funk.

I feel horribly guilty about griping, too, which doesn't help things. So many couples I know have been separated, for longer time periods and more drastic reasons. My brother and his fiancee are soon to be living in the same city for the first time in four years; one of my best friends is home with three children under the age of five, because her husband is training for the military to help give his family a better future. Neither of those couples chose the separation, whereas I did, in order to be productive. We'll be reunited after 9 weeks; my friend and her babies will see their dad after 12 weeks, and my brother has seen his fiancee on average only once every 12 weeks for thepast four years. I have no right to complain.

We're still talking on the phone twice a day, and with free long distance we can talk for an hour and not worry about the cost. It's a learning experience, too; I'm discovering that I miss his little habits, and that I miss contributing half to household upkeep. Because neither of us has a webcam, all we have is the phone; I'm learning how to look back on my day and bring him up to speed without complaining too much. I'm finding that I want to avoid complaining entirely, because the relatively little time we have should be positive.

(I gave up two things for Lent - I gave up my husband out of necessity, and I am trying my hardest to give up "driving the BMW" - bitching, moaning, and whining).

Most days I can see the light at the end of this tunnel, and the thought of being finished lights a warm little fire in my heart (a tiny fire so warm and bright that it almost hurts). I am desperately looking forward to just sitting down for one evening, without this blade hanging over my head by a thread.

Sitting in my favourite chair, with a big mug of tea on my endtable and a half-finished sock on my needles, and my husband next to me, reading recipes off the internets and planning our first real Sunday dinner together since Christmas.

Sigh.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Two chapters sent for review

... and I'm into Chapter 3.

I have to make sure I don't succumb to my usual "I've been productive, I deserve a 2-day break", so I'm plugging through.

:-)

Friday, March 2, 2007

TGIF

Well, I had a relatively productive day today, and that was after losing the morning to productive errands.

(Banking? Check. Paystub? Check. Lunch with Mom? Check.)

I'm sending the first two chapters to hubby tonight, so that he can read over them. I know there'll be editing to do, but I'm OK with that.

Let's just hope that this good, optimistic mood lasts!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Ok... so I went ahead and treated myself already.

I had a fairly productive morning, dealt with a crisis that involved hunting down missing protocol information, and didn't cry once.

So I went ahead and ordered my treats - my first experience with a few kinds of online ordering, too - and it was seamless :-)

Now I'll have two treaties waiting for me when I get to the new apartment, not counting the new apartment itself! Yay!!

I'm going to get me some treats

So, I've decided how to reward myself if I meet my Friday goal.

If I'm out of Chapter 2 by tomorrow night, I'm going to order some pretty-pretties on the internets :-)

I do read a whole bunch o' blogs, even though I haven't taken the time to list them in the sidebar, and I don't know how to use these blogline reader thingamajigs that everyone else seems to love. But, I read 'em all, and I like to follow links to stores and things.

*She rubs her palms together with glee*

I'm going to see if I can get a couple of patterns from Schoolhouse Press sent to the new apartment, along with some fancy stitch markers, provided they'll ship to a different address.

It amazes me every day how much time I can waste on my knitting, with my stash and needles and patterns all about 800 miles away.