Monthly Archives: February 2006

Le sigh….

Oh, winter at a nw Iowa university. It’s 1*F outside. I have 36 freshman essay drafts to mark inside. I want to play with my spinning wheel instead. Amelia wants to play with me instead. Zeke is in full birdie springtime mode and wants to procreate with my left hand.*

Astrid, who’s all of four years old and completely jaded, is just sleeping next to the computer.

Last night, however, I got to eat Mexican on the university’s tab and chat with champion slam poet Buddy Wakefield. And I’ll go to his campus performance tonight, hopefully feeling virtuous for marking at least 25 papers.

On Friday morning, the dean of my department, my direct boss, came to my class to observe my teaching — he has to sit in on every instructor once a semester. I did my thing, a nifty little lesson on incorporating stylistic devices into papers that I stole got from T.R. Johnson, and then set the students to adding some of the figures to their drafts, working on their laptop computers. Of course, one girl spent the time playing solitaire, probably for 15 minutes by the time I worked my way around to her side of the room. And OF COURSE, she was blissfully and obliviously doing so sitting right next to my dean. Grrr.

In other news, that afternoon I went to get an eye exam and new glasses, having completely neglected my eyes (and my teeth — the dentist is next) during graduate school. Because they didn’t have frames that would shoot fiery lasers at students playing solitaire in class, I chose these

in coppery brown. I’m going to start dyeing my hair red again soon,** and that’s as much makeover as this little black duck is ever gonna get.

*never my right hand. What’s up with that?

**When I get rid of my extensive gray, my eldest sister can delude herself into thinking that I am younger, which means she’s younger, too. See? I’m not vain, I’m doing it out of the goodness of my heart…..

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VD Rears its Ugly Head…

Valentines Day and can you believe it — George Clooney didn’t send me flower again!


Zeke, Astrid, and Amelia, however, clubbed together to buy me two novels and two spinning books which, appropriately enough, arrived today from It’s true: the only love we can depend on is the imputed love of pets that belong to crazy, middle-aged, born-again-spinster* English teachers.

*I was married, but now I’ve discovered and embraced the single life — cat hair, cereal for dinner, and all.

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Monday swim

Got up this a.m. at 5:30 per usual, so I could hit the gym. Found my living room ceiling merrily dripping away. So I went back to bed, then called the plumber as early as possible (7 a.m., when I’d usually be sweating on the elliptical machine), skipped my shower (I had visions of the whole tub coming through the ceiling) and came in to work. Before I left home, I noticed that Amelia the Very Odd Kitty was already dunking her toys — various mousies and jingle balls — in the pan I’d placed to collect the water drips. I wonder what the plumbers will make of this?

So here I am, stinky and unexercised on a Monday morning. Great start for the week, eh?

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This Wheel’s on Fire

A couple of years ago, I enrolled in a Saturday workshop to learn how to spin yarn on a drop spindle. We also got to try to use a spinning wheel. I did okay on the drop spindle, but it wasn’t a big thrill for me. And I sucked on the spinning wheel, my suckage being a combination of my natural lack of rhythm and the less-than-helpful suggestions of the sarcastic woman looking over my shoulder. I *HATE* trying to learn fiddly new skills in public.

Now, however, I live in quiet little Storm Lake, IA. I just finished a 5 week winter break and I’m faced with 3 months off this summer. I’m not complaining, mind you, but one does need to fill the time with some kind of hobby and I can only knit so much. And I loathe gardening and George Clooney is taking his own sweet time coming for a visit. So I decided to try to spin yarn again. On a spinning wheel. Which are hideously expensive. What to do?

I love the Internet. After an hour’s search one afternoon, I found Babe’s Fiber Garden, makers of spinning wheels that get good reviews from spinners and which are constructed mainly from PVC pipe and wheel chair wheels. They cost 1/2 to 1/3 of the least expensive wooden wheels on the market and I ordered one last Monday and it arrived on Wednesday. The wheel I got, Babe’s Production Double Treadle in black sheep color, is a castle-wheel style. It’s pictured below next to a wooden castle wheel:

Schacht Matchless Wheel, $895.00   
Babe Production Wheel, $185.00
So, I’ve had the Babe less than a week and I’ve spun 2 bobbins of yarn. Well, "yarn" is perhaps too charitable a term. My first bobbin looked like the result of a bizarre sheep-on-wheel crime* and has been disposed of. The second bobbin, pictured, here, is somewhat better. Notice that last bit near the front (where the wooden flyer forms a V) that looks rather yarn-like?**
And so that’s what I’ve been up to. I have visions of buying a complete, skirted fleece*** this summer, cleaning it, carding it, spinning it, and dyeing it. Perhaps I’ll eventually convince my landlord that the newest cat is supposed to say "baaaa"?

*A drive-by sheeping?

**The literature that accompanied the spinning wheel says that handspun yarn, esp. that produced by a beginner, shouldn’t be expected to look like store-bought yarn. It goes on to say, "You will never again be able to recreate these first yarns again….enjoy them. They are unique!" Imagine such a text in 2105, appended to the instructions of the Acme Home Cloning Kit: "You will never again be able to recreate these first abominations…"

***"skirted" means that most of the dried sheep shit has been cut away.

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