You are viewing dichroic

an unexpected poem happened by

oar asterisk

This comes from a bunch of things. Elizabeth Goudge sent me to Rupert Brooke (and wow – I’d never seen that sonnet before. What a wallop it has!) which of course made me think of the end of his life, which got me curious enough to look up his American contemporary (born just 3 years later) Christopher Morley. I’m sure the war must have affected Morley somehow, but you can’t see it in a brief biography, and it just seemed so odd to be so apparently untouched by an event that ravaged half the world. Add to that Ken Burns’ documentary on the Roosevelts, which seemed to have a lot of uncanny modern echoes (great show – it’s the first time I can remember when everyone at work is talking about a TV documentary) and this percolated through.

The Unlearned Lessons of 1914-1818

what was it like when the storm unfurled
for those whose raft lolled in calmer waters?
Across the ocean, rip currents swirled
swamping and drowning the sons and daughters
of cousins and uncles left behind
by those who fled to a newer world.

What was it like in ’17,
when the currents threatened the other side,
when the winds of war blew cutting and keen
calling a new tithe to sail a tide
flowing back to wash the wounded land
with wrack-strewn waters, incarnadine?

And what are we like as we doze, lulled to sleep
by the news of atrocities far away
denying the tides that rise and seep
and undermine the lands we say
(we echoing fools!) will keep us safe
….meanwhile, the waters are growing deep.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.



oar asterisk

The litter box bit me! Then I made it worse myself.

At some point on Saturday I got a splinter from walking out on the wooden balcony barefoot. (In the lake house, we have real wood floors. They’re slippery enough that it’s fun to slide on them in socks – unfortunately there are enough rough edges that this sometimes results in splinters so I try to remember to wear slippers there. THe back deck, though, is made of cement “lumber” so no splinters. In our main Hilsboro house, the indoors is laminate so splinters are never an issue – but the small back deck is stained wood.) Anyway, I eventually got the splinter out of my foot, but apparently it imprinted in my brain. On Saturday night while I was cleaning the litterbox, I found that there was a split in the plastic, right where I always lean while scooping. That is, I “found” the split when a small fold of skin on my palm got caught in it. Afterward there was a small painful red bump on my palm.

Then somewhere in a semi-dreaming state that night, I thought I had a splinter in my palm. I was picking at it with my fingernails trying to pull out the imaginary splinter – I’m just not sure if I was really doing that or dreaming I was going it. Sabotaging yourself in your sleep is not a good idea!

That spot on my palm hurts. However, it’s going to be a good week, regardless – I get to work a short week, then it’s off on our first real vacation since coming back to the US at the end of 2012 (aside from a long weekend in Seattle).

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

who needs real clothes?

oar asterisk

It makes me happy that everything I’m wearing today from the ankles up is crypto-sportsgear: non-itchy wool tunic and tights from a women’s sports store online, underwear from a local sporting-goods place. (I guess Under Armour takes the “under” part of their name seriously. Also, the less-bombproof sports bras are a lot more comfortable than underwires for me.) On the one hand, you could say I overpaid for performance fabrics that aren’t really needed in an office, when all I really need are normal clothes. On the other hand, I was extremely comfortable biking in this morning (much more than if I’d worn trousers) and itchless wool is good under any circumstances. Also, I feel like I’m getting away with something, especially as my company’s new dress code, while very reasonable, says something about not allowing athletic clothing. (They just want us to look reasonably professional, and I do. That’s why I call it crypto-sportsgear.)

From the ankles down, I’m wearing socks knit by me and ankle boots that are comfortable enough to walk a couple miles in, so that’s also a win.

I have been wearing two fitness trackers for a few days now, and am almost ready to write up a review and comparison, but I will make that a separate post.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

slightly less see-through

oar asterisk

I’ve been feeling a little better, more connected, since my “cellophane” post last week – maybe I just needed to vent. Certainly the responses to the post helped, so thank you to those who commented, on WordPress and DW and LJ. Also, work has been busier – I’ve had a bunch of local in-person meetings in addition to the usual telecons, and having more human contact definitely helps.

I’ve had slightly more time on actual water lately, too, which is probably good for my general well-being. On Labor Day weekend, we planted a dwarf Japanese maple, so we went back last week to water it, and we’ll be returning this week again. Two and a half hours is kind of a long haul, which is why we normally only go every other weekend. This will be the last time for a few weeks, though – next weekend is the airshow here, and then after that we’re going to Hawaii. THat will be good; I feel like after all those years of travel we got back to the US and then we just stayed put. Much as I love Portland, I’m looking forward to going somewhere else for a change. Anyway, we’ve hired a neighbor kid to water the tree a couple times a week so hopefully it will survive.

Meanwhile, all those trips to the house mean we get to row every weekend. Last weekend I actually didn’t go out on the water on Saturday due to the combination of rough water and some vertigo, but I pulled the erg outside and at least got to face the lake as I “rowed”. I did get to go out on Sunday, and also had a couple short outings in the kayak, chasing after Ted’s new radio-controlled model seaplane. Until he flew it into a tree where it lodged high up, turning it instantly into Ted’s former radio-controlled model seaplane</i>. I must say I’m impressed at how cheerfully he took the loss.

The oddest thing about going to the lake two weekends in a row was that the season changed in between our two visits. When we went there Labor Day weekend, it was the end of summer, and then last weekend it was Fall, poof, just like that. The light was lower, the wind was higher and smelled of autumn, and the trees had actually begun to change color, just between the Monday we left and the Friday we returned. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it happen so suddenly.

I’ve started marathon training again too, because I felt like my endurance has been dropping. No guarantee I’ll finish out the whole six-month plan, but I’d like to get back up to doing half-marathons routinely on weekends. I’m up to the second 4-week cycle, and this Saturday I’m supposed to do 12 km, I think – I might need to do part of that on the water and finish it on land, if my hands aren’t callused enough for the full distance. (Ergs are easier on the hands – you don’t have to feather the oar, so you don’t get hand blisters.)

So yeah, doing a little better. I still need more socializing and more adventure in my life. I’m sure something

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

on goose poop and being Ms Cellophane

oar asterisk

I have two injuries from last weekend. The scrape on my elbow from picking up a kayak seems like a reasonable one to have, even if I did scrape my left elbow while picking up the boat on my right side. The other injury, though, is much more ridiculous: I had a blister and then ripped the skin off from sweeping goose poop off our dock. The first year, the geese avoided our dock; now they have found it. After two weeks away, it had a truly amazing amount of crap on it (“amazing amount of crap” is a phrase you never want to have to use when speaking literally). In case anyone cares, the best methodology for goose poop removal seems to be to start with a light sweeping (“light” being what I didn’t do and why I got the blister) to remove the dry stuff, followed by alternating buckets of water tossed with strategic aim and sweeping to get everything else off. Fortunately there’s enough of a current to carry it away once it’s washed or swept into the water, and I don’t feel guilty about sweeping it in since presumably geese poop there too.


I am feeling a bit invisible and isolated lately. Not so much online, really, but in meatspace. I’m grateful that I do still get responses here, considering how infrequently I post, and I do get a lot of interaction on Ravelry, my other main online space.

On the other hand, in physical space and even online areas based more on in-person acquaintanceship, things are different.

At work, I sit in an area with only a few other people. Most of my colleagues eat lunch at their desks; I miss the way my groups in Taiwan and the Netherlands would all go eat together. More more of my meetings are telecons than in-person, and I have somewhat fewer meetings and more solo work than in my last job. Lots of meetings get postponed, though always for valid reasons. I do get pretty good responsiveness to questions and requests.

Socially – there pretty much is no socially here. A lot of our social life both in Arizona and in the Netherlands was through rowing, but we don’t have any water close enough to make it practical to row during the week. We do have some rowing contacts at the lake house, but it’s not economically feasible to join their club when we only get out there every other week, or sometimes less (plus we use our own equipment and don’t need club boats). I take a longish lunch one day a week to go to my local knitting group, and that’s about it for social interaction. I try to go to work social events when they have them. I could do more knitting stuff – there are multiple knit nights a week around here – but it’s hard to drag myself back out of the house after I’ve gotten home and worked out, and the times I have gone were nice but not so great as to make me feel I’m missing a lot.

When we moved here, we did meet up once with an old friend of Ted’s but she’s way on the other side of town. I’ve tried to get together with a longtime acquaintance from the LordPeter list who lives very close by; she’s said she wants to but has pled illness for a year and a half. (No, I haven’t nagged. We emailed a couple times early on and then I checked back once recently.) If she wanted, she could invite me to come to her to to a neutral place close to her. I’d guess this is most likely an excuse but if not, then she’s clearly just not well enough to have new people in her life.

I’ve kind of run short on people to just call and talk to. I used to talk to my uncle and grandmother fairly regularly, but we lost her in 1997 or so and him in 2009. (Dad died a few months ago, but never liked to talk on the phone anyway.) Mom is a bit unsatisfactory to talk to these days because she focuses only on what and who she sees daily and isn’t that interested in much else – to the point that she’ll refer to “them” and “he” with no warning and I’m just supposed to know the former is my brother and SIL and the latter my nephew (because why would anyone want to talk about anything else?). I don’t really care what she ate yesterday or if everyone at her new place thinks her grandson is cute. (Of course I do talk to her regularly and listen to her talk about these things anyway, because I need to support her. And I don’t want to give the wrong impression, having met a few too many people with horrible uncaring mothers. She does try – she called just yesterday to check back because I’d mentioned on Monday that Ted wasn’t feeling well. It’s just the way her mind works – out of sight is out of mind, to some degree.)

As for friends elsewhere, I never did spent much time on the phone with them anyway – more to make plans than just chat. A lot of people don’t email much these days. Some of my physical-world friends do or did blog, but I can’t read blogs during the day from this job. Somehow it seems to be easier to catch up with Facebook’s two-line updates and skippable memes than to read blogposts in my very limited evening free time, especially with fewer and fewer people writing those posts. (I realize I am a part of the problem here and I keep resolving to do better.)

Even on Facebook (where my friendslist is a blend of people I went to school with, people I’ve met along the way, dnd people from assorted online contexts) I feel a bit isolated. People answer when I comment on their stuff, and they ‘like’ or comment on mine some, but of course you rarely get real conversation there. And, though this sounds silly, I don’t get tagged for stuff. I didn’t particularly want to dump ice water on my head (and I’m perfectly capable of donating to a charity on my own volition) though coming up with ten books that have hit me hard might have been fun. But it’s not really wanting to do those things, which of course I could do on my own anyway. It feels stupid to even complain – after all, I don’t like tagging other people, because I don’t want to inconvenience them and because some people dislike being called out in public. It’s just, I don’t know, sort of a graphic demonstration that I’m not particularly in the forefront of anyone’s mind. (Don’t get me wrong; I am not asking to be tagged for anything, either – that wouldn’t really solve the problem.)

Of course there’s Ted as a constant in my life; I couldn’t be luckier or happier to have him there. I just don’t think it’s either effective or fair to expect one person to serve as the majority of my human contact.

It takes a while to make friends after you move. Moving frequently means you will be more isolated for a while. Some jobs have less contact than others. None of this is problematic on its own; it’s just all hitting me together, and not having a local rowing club cuts off one more thing that’s been a support for me elsewhere.

People at this company like to quote studies about how no one can really multitask and you (=everyone) get more done if you focus. I’m not convinced. I like being interrupted now and then. I like having people around to bounce ideas off, and I like conversations that meander. Without those, I think I get a little down – not clinically depressed, just mild situational depression – and I function less effectively. The other point is that I’m not *really* alone; I was happier when I was working at home on my book and could wear what I wanted, work on the schedule I wanted, lounge comfortably on a sofa, take time to relax and let ideas percolate if I needed to. Right now I have all the constraints of working in an office, without the fun of talking to other people much, and without much people contact outside work to make up for it.

There are some problems that can be solved by throwing money at them. I think this is one you can only solve by throwing time at it – wait, meet people, be friendly, and hope things change gradually.

Oh, and also: the complete lack of reviews on my book doesn’t help. Even if someone said they hated it, at least you’d know they read it.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.



oar asterisk

I just learned that Worldcon 2015 is in Spokane. I was thinking it might be fun to go, maybe take the train there. But first, who else out there is planning to go? It would definitely be more fun if I know more people.

I realize everyone’s got friends they meet up with at cons and don’t plan to hang around anyone’s neck like a millstone! But it’s at least nice to be able to say hi or have the occasional meal / conversation with others.

So far, I know one coworker is going. Said coworker has also made the sensible suggestion that I volunteer at Orycon, in order to make more connections, and has floated the fascinating idea of proposing a panel, related to my book, to talk about standard processes as they relate to organizing cons.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

new sweater!

oar asterisk

I always know it’s going to be a good day at work when I get to wear something I’ve made for the first time. No matter what happens at work, I have proof of my competence, right there on my back – “Well, you may have worked at this company for twenty years and know everything about it, but I made some of my clothes!”

I feel particularly clever in this case, because I wanted this sweater to be slightly loose and long and now, after blocking, it is. (Before blocking it fit well but clung more closely.) This one is pretty perfect, though. The pattern is called Organic:

(I really need to set up a better way to take full-body selfies.)

I’ve had the opposite happen a few times, where something fit well and then sort of wilted and went limp. The best example is my Banff – it’s supposed to be oversized, but not quite that oversized:


Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.



oar asterisk

Forgive me if this is long-winded and driveling; something just hit me but I’m not sure I’ll be able to explain it.

When I was a teenager in the 1980s, I was friends with some neighbors whose kids I babysat – still am friends, at least in a vague Facebook-and-holiday-card way. Obviously they were older, 30ish or so when I was sixteen. His parents were Holocaust survivors; I’ve seen their tattoos. My husband still has both grandfathers, lucky man; one was a conscientious objector in WWII, and the other was a bona-fide hero in the Pacific war, Purple Heart and everything. So the thing is, I’m old enough to know people who showed extraordinary valor in that war, but they are / were old enough that we don’t just sit around and swap stories. (My husband’s grandfathers have been willing to share more of their stories in recent years, but they do feel like history.) As a young engineer, I did work directly with people who made history as part of the Apollo program, but I don’t think that’s a common experience.

Dorothy GIlman is famous for her Mrs. Pollifax mysteries, but I’ve just been reading one of her older books, The Clarivoyant Countess. It’s a series of short stories about a clairvoyant in the 1970s; in it, people discuss psychic powers, reincarnation, and a lot of the other arcane stuff in fashion then. (Some of the conversation in the stories has the feel of the dinner parties Madeleine L’Engle describes in her nonfiction, so I believe they fit with the zeitgeist.) The story that hit me hard has a minor character who went through the concentration camps and saved his wife from them by a brilliant ploy.

And it sort of hit me: yes, the fifties were mostly a time of nesting and reaction, but the young (and older) people trying to change the world in the late ’60s and early ’70s had an intimate knowledge people who had done exactly that – changed the world and won out over evil through heroism, courage, and determination. They knew them as well as my younger coworkers might know me – I’m not old yet and I have clear memories of the ’80s. No wonder they believed in their own abilities to measure up and change the world again. If their parents could do it, why not then?

And the WWII generation had at least a head start; I don’t know that I could say that people who lived through WWI changed the world exactly but they had it change around them, dealt with it and survived.

Now, when we see a need for change as in Ferguson, those examples are farther back in history from us. The amazing leadership and perseverance of the Montgomery bus boycott, the lunch-counter sit-ins, the feminist changes that meant I could major in engineering and get jobs with no real resistance are all forty to fifty years in our past now. They don’t feel like yesterday to the middle-aged, let alone to the young.

On the other hand, we know through direct memory that we can survive massive change around us – just look at the Internet. The WWW has only been around since about ’92. We know that with a concerted effort we can make real change happen now – look how many US states allow same-sex marriage, illegal in all fifty states within the lifetimes of people who aren’t old enough to drive. it might be harder for us – especially our youngest – to believe we can change the world when we don’t have so many obvious heroes among us, because it’s harder to see history made when you’re inside it. It’s hard to have a historical perspective on current events, but I think if we can take that step back to be objective, there are plenty of examples to build those hopes on.

Does that even make sense?

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.


Penderwicks news, muse on vacation

oar asterisk

Nice way to start a week – apparently the fourth Penderwicks book, The Penderwicks in Spring, is due out next March.

Also, this, drafted on the lake last Saturday:

Puddles fade behind us
and a distant mountain rises
to overtop the tall tree
on which I center our stern
as we row the lake’s length.

I say “we” –
my boat possesses her own soul.
Like a lover,
All my work is to be worthy of her.

Maybe it’s because work has been busy and challenging lately; it feels like my well of poetry used to overflow, brimming with lines I could pull out at will, and now ia torpid, brackish puddle, more a remnant than a living thing. It’s not painful or terribly depressing; I have mental challenges and have even been making things. (I’m having a knitting pattern published in the book that will accompany next February’s Portland Yarn Crawl.) It just feels odd, as if something that used to be there isn’t. Maybe I just needmore time when I’m not really doing anything, like working or reading – these days I listen to audiobooks on the erg, so I don’t create poems as I did when I rowed on a lake several times a week. I did get out rowing on Saturday and kayaking Sunday, which is where the above poem grew). Maybe I need to be having more new experiences – I certainly wrote a lot both in junior high and when I was in Taiwan (though I also found work/school boring in the latter places). I don’t know.

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.

oar asterisk

A woman named Sharon Ann Burnston wrote this on Ravelry (reposted with permission) and I loved it so much I wanted to save it here. Tis is really the first thing I’ve ever read that makes the Judeo-Christian concept of a Messiah make sense to me, as anything more than idle wish fulfillment.

When I was a child, the idea appealed to me of a Moshiach who would show up some day and reward us for good behavior.

As I got older, that made less and less sense.

I have come to believe that when we have improved the world enough that we are ready for Moshiach, we will have created our own Paradise on earth, where all people are fed, clothed, educated, healthy, and living in peace. The Moshiach, if there is such an actual person, will be whoever is the leader of this initiative at that time.

Or maybe there is no personified Moshiach, just a Messianic Age, which we can create by our own efforts.

So, we will bring Moshiach, not by earning this, like good little children who get a reward for good behavior, but like adults who create a good situation by working for it, and then get to enjoy the benefits of it.

To paraphrase the words of the immortal Pogo, “We have met the Messiah, and he is us.”

To me, the Temple is irrelevant. And possibly a dangerous distraction from the tasks at hand. When we have earned that Messianic Age, then maybe it’ll be time then to think about that…

(It was in response to someone else’s question, “Would you want the Temple in Jerusalem to be rebuilt? Why or why not?” and I’d pointed out that in Jewish belief that only happens with the coming of the Messiah.)

Mirrored from Dichroic Reflections.