WIPs, FOs, and IPs

I’m struggling (once again? as usual?) to get into a solid exercise and healthy eating routine. As I age, it becomes harder and harder to get the physical body back into good working order after every break from the routine, no matter how short. I’ve found that my reading muscles get out of shape quickly, too. I have to exercise my brain to get it back into deep reading shape; skimming headlines, flitting about the internet, and scrolling thru my twitter feed do not use the same reading muscles as a good novel or non-fiction tome. So despite having finished a solid book of non-fiction essays and started on a great novel, I remain in a bit of a reading funk.

Fortunately I’ve been able to direct a decent amount of energy into knitting lately so I thought it was a good time to share my current WIPs, FOs, and IPs.

WIPs (Works In Progress)

This years Crackerjack panel is almost complete as the Astros have only 4 games of regular season baseball remaining. I have already dug out the contrasting color that I use to indicate the post-season wins and losses since the beloved ones have clinched the ALWest and will be playing in the ALDS starting next week.

I’m also working on a scarf for a niece. (I am assuming that neither she nor her mother is a reader of TFTB, I do hate ruining surprises.) She requested green, but I thought this yarn looked so fun to work with that I couldn’t resist. And there is some green in there…

FOs (Finished Objects)

I’ve finished two projects in the last month. The first is a baby blanket knit on “commission” for D#2 who has too many friends having babies at the same time for her to keep up with handknit gifts.

And since the daughters are of the age that their friends are having babies, I am obviously at the age where my friends are becoming grandparents. So since the dreaded shower invitations keep arriving, I have come up with a cute handmade gift to accompany a book or two and a gift card. I think the crowns are more practical than a hat (at least in Houston), cuter than the usual headband, and appropriate for both sexes.

IPs (Imagined Projects)

I try not to buy yarn without a specific project in mind. I am not always successful. In contrast, I am practically compulsive about saving patterns via Ravelry and Pinterest, most of which I will never make. Sometimes, it all comes together. Here is some yarn that I have scheduled for some projects to get on the needles soon. (One is actually already a WIP, but for a regular reader of TFTB and, like I said above, I do hate ruining surprises.)

All-in-all I’m feeling pretty good about my knitting projects of late. Although as I was pulling together the yarns, patterns, and needles for these IPs, I uncovered a WIP that has been in the works for over 2 years and two IPs that I never got around to casting on. Good thing my knitting muscles are in top shape these days.


What shall I do today?

Maybe a yoga class.
I do need to go to the grocery store.
I think I’ll treat myself to an afternoon Starbucks salted caramel mocha frappacino.

Meanwhile, two blocks away…










Geeking Out

Neighborhood Update: Water continues to recede. There’s a lot of activity as more houses become accessible and dry enough to actually begin cleaning up/salvaging/tearing out.

I need to point out one thing to those of you who don’t live in Houston: This long-term flooding situation is especially awful/weird/unbelievable because Houston drains very quickly. Flooding rains and street flooding in Houston is common, but it rarely lasts pasts the actual rain event. Even most of the areas that flooded during Harvey drained within a day or two. We are in the unusual situation of being flooded by releases from the reservoirs that usually protect us.

Personal Update: Still not doing much of anything to help. Still somewhat waiting to be asked. Still not proud, but still being me. Husband is heading downtown to work everyday. He sets his own hours to stay away from the worst traffic during his commute. There is still no bus service in this part of town due to all the road closures. Milo the guard dog has developed some sort of fear of the kitchen…which is especially odd since that is the place where his food, water, and bed are. Stella the emotionally needy dog is coming by for an extended stay soon. She will keep me busy and test my sanity levels in a different way.

And now on to geeking out.

I can’t help but be fascinated by all the facts, all the numbers, all the stats, all the science, and all the engineering around all of this.

The weight of all the water caused the earth to temporarily depress 2 cm here.

Irma is so strong that it was picked up by equipment used to measure earthquakes.

The advances in satellite imagery, forecasting, and modeling are AMAZING – and yet mother nature still can be unpredictable.

I’ve learned that nowadays, dams and reservoirs are designed in part with a metric known as Probable Maximum Flood (PMF). Barker-addicks was designed prior to that metric coming into use, but even so, they think Harvey might have blown apart the current PMF modeling criteria.

I’ve read more about the history of the reservoirs and also followed closely how the Corps of Engrs handled/are handling everything before during and after the storm. We went to a short talk at the reservoir several years ago. Everything is 100% consistent with what the head of operations told us then. There’s going to be lawsuits and investigations and blaming, but the engineer in me says that they acted properly and that everything performed as it should have.

I finally have a clear definition of the poorly named “100 year flood” statistic. Not that a flood of some magnitude is expected once every hundred years, but a flood that has a one percent chance of happening in any year.

Does something that seems as huge (in my little world) as Harvey make a dent on a big scale? What is the effect on landfill lifetimes from this amount of trash and waste? Is the amount of new building materials needed to rebuild Houston a drain on natural resources or just a boon to those economies? Are there going to long-term environmental impacts to the Gulf of Mexico from the run-off?

Here’s one of my favorite sentences trying to put some perspective on the quantity of rain that Harvey produced:

The 19 trillion gallons of rain in the past few days over Texas would raise the entire Great Lakes 11.66 inches. That’s almost a foot of water over the entire surface of the largest fresh water lake system in the world.

I’m afraid that politics and emotions are going to take center stage in the aftermath of Harvey when what we really need to focus on are facts and science.

That being said, I’m ending this disjointed post with one link, not to a set of facts, but to an emotional essay. Human emotion is always part of the equation, no matter how geeky we are.

Slowly and surely

The neighborhood update: Water is falling, slowly and surely. I walked a little farther this morning, I actually didn’t get on Dairy Ashford at all yesterday and it was positive to be able to go a little further in that direction this morning. (So…further? farther?…I guess I need to look up when to use which since I see that I have just used both in the same sentence.) Lo and behold, I could actually see the bridge! You still can’t get to the bridge, but it was nice to see some grass and pavement peeking up above the bayou.

The personal update: Back in my college days, a friend and I had this ongoing exercise of picking people for a team. It was a black and white sorting option for people. You could have them on your team or not. A quick judgement of people based on something or nothing at all. The more I try to explain it, the weirder it sounds, but I have to tell you, the whole idea of it has never left me. (Perhaps I should have grown up to be a jury consultant – it’s like voir dire for life.) After going thru “something,” the questions pop up: “What did you learn from this experience? How did this change you?” I’m not changing and I’m not learning anything new about myself, but I am seeing myself and judging myself and wondering, “Would I pick me for the team?”

When the going gets tough, I am a uni-tasker. I stop seeing the big picture and I only see what needs to be done now. My world shrinks down. I will go into a holding pattern until the next thing that needs to done becomes apparent. I will jump into action if asked, but I will not go outside my bubble to look for the action.

I am an introvert unless communication and community is important. The husband laughed, “So I see that it only takes a disaster to turn you into an extrovert.” I sensed that people needed to be talking. Not only to share information, but because connections with each other is the only thing that is going to hold together and rebuild this neighborhood (and this city.) I’ve had more than one person approach me with, “I couldn’t say this to just anyone, but I can say it to you.”

I can move on. Which is an odd thing to say since I just confessed I’m still playing mind games from college. I don’t move fast. I spend a lot of time waiting. But I don’t spend a lot of time looking back. Right now I feel like I’m still waiting. Waiting for the water to recede. Waiting to get back into a routine. Waiting to find the best way to help. I know, tho, that when I do start taking steps, every step will be forward.

Harvey has changed my world, but it hasn’t changed me. I’m not proud of myself, but I know there’s a place for me on the team. #houstonstrong



Getting back to (a new) normal

Ten days ago, Harvey barreled into Rockport, TX. This morning, this is the view down the streets at either end of my block, looking towards Buffalo Bayou.

I haven’t been posting pictures because my iphone photos just don’t really capture the reality. Those houses at the end, three blocks down, have 3-4 ft of water in them. Still.

They are lowering the release rates from the reservoirs today so we should start seeing the water in the neighborhood falling soon. Stores and gas stations are open and restocking. If you look away from the water, and away from the piles of trash in front of places that are already cleaning up, things look pretty normal. But it is going to be a new normal.

Yesterday started to feel like a normal day for me. I did normal things: yard work, grocery shopping, laundry, kitchen cleaning. All while I watched and heard boats going into the flood zone, people trying to retrieve one or two prized possessions and people just grabbing everything they could reach.

I know some of the people who read this blog. Some of them are far away from Houston, some of them know me personally, some of them lost almost everything in the last ten days. For me, journaling is a way to think things thru, an outlet for both creativity and emotion. I chose blogging as my format for journaling, and I chose to do it publicly. So it will continue. I’m not looking for sympathy (and for what? I lost nothing!), ┬ábut I’m hoping not to be judged (whiner! ingrate! lazy! ignorant!). I’m just recording my impressions here on the sidelines of just one of the epicenters of Harvey’s wrath. OK, enough of that. I won’t apologize for what I’m thinking and feeling. More posts on a new normal to come.