While I don’t know if things tend to happen in sets of three like some people say they do, it does seem as though my knitting for pregnant friends always falls under the proverbial “when it rains it pours” umbrella. Right now I have not one or two but three good friends who are expecting, and I try to knit a special gift every time I know someone is having a baby. The latest FO is Baby’s First Aran, a pattern I’ve knit a couple of times previously for other friends. I’m quite fond of the result, knit in KP Comfy Worsted on 5.5mm needles and using all but a few yards of four skeins:

And, currently on the needles is the ubiquitous Baby Surprise Jacket, because after months of not knitting I need something cozy and familiar. (When I finally decided I was going to finish this Baby’s First Aran, I pulled it out of a bag that also contained a Real Simple Christmas magazine and a notebook I last used at the job I quit in December.)

So, that’s what’s going on in my knitting world for the time being. Second baby sweater out of three on the needles – any ideas for the third? The parents aren’t going to know the gender of the baby until birth. Oh! I also have a finished Wrenna to show off, but taking respectable photos of a chunky black sweater with one’s iPhone isn’t as simple as you’d think – my attempts to convince myself that the resulting pictures were “charming” and “artistic” were not successful. Also, I just realized that this post makes it sound like knitting babies is all the rage these days. But it makes me giggle, so it stays.

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This morning, my delightful, lively, and always totally off-topic Freshman Composition class got on the subject of the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) testing that apparently takes place in K-12 schools every year. (We had been reading about the Declaration of Independence, which led to mention of Thomas Jefferson, and in turn brought up the terrific Texas Board of Education’s recent idea to avoid any exploration of Jefferson’s philosophies or purported philandering.) Anyway. While I do remember taking a few standardized tests as a kid – especially in elementary school – the Texas version of making sure that learning is not occurring, at least according to my classmates, is to focus almost entirely on testing.

This single-minded focus is allegedly so intense that schools encourage their educators and students to wear “motivational” TAKS tee-shirts during testing season. Since the only education-oriented motivational shirt I’ve ever seen is one that a guy named Adam craftily spray-painted for an AP European History exam back in 1999 or 2000, I had a hard time believing that mass-market, test-oriented clothing existed. However, my trusty friend Google confirmed this, providing me with multiple TAKS-related clothing sites, including this one, which has the above gem for sale. Your’s for the asking? Are you fucking kidding me? I might be willing to dismiss the your’s as a placeholder for “‘s for the asking” were it not for the fact that said placeholder already exists on the design.Dear Texas, please shut up. Sincerely, history.

One of the things that my “52.5 in 2010” group has taught me is to seek opportunity in unexpected and often mundane places. While my photo of The Husbeast’s near-empty cologne bottle didn’t get more than a half dozen comments (I admit, I am a sucker for comments) in this week’s pool, I had a bit of inspiration realizing that I could take a semi-decent photograph of things in everyday life.

It’s been in the upper seventies through the entire weekend. With the exception of a thunderstorm predicted for tomorrow morning, the hot* warm weather is supposed to continue throughout the week. It’s still winter, and I’m melting. The Husbeast and I had The Air Conditioning Discussion yesterday evening and decided that we’d postpone turning on the window units until temperatures become unbearable. I have a feeling it’s going to turn into some kind of ironman competition to see how long we can go without cooling, seeing as how we’re both pretty damn stubborn. The seedlings, however, oblivious to conversations about cooled air, are very happy! Tomatoes, Swiss Chard, and Lupine have all started sprouting. This has me impatient about the peppers and the cacti, and I have to keep reminding myself that I just planted the little guys on Thursday.

After a trip to the Harley dealership yesterday afternoon (because we’ve now reached an age and status wherein going and looking at motorcycles and overpriced bike gear is really cool – God, if we ever have a kid, it’s going to hate us) we stopped by Lowe’s and I picked up some caladium tubers. This is shaping up to be a very exciting spring – I love knowing that I will never, ever have to give up my houseplants again, and that I’m free (within reason) to start an indoor collection that could last for years to come. Pretty cool. Hot. Whatever.

*The Husbeast says that weather in the upper seventies is warm. I say it’s hot. However, I’ll go with warm for the time being, all things being relative. That and my use of adjectives to describe temperature tend to be somewhat limited, unless you count creative use of the f-word.

Some of my classmates hate Blue Books because hand-writing essays in a digital age, without the advantage of red squiggly lines to point out obvious spelling errors, puts them at a distinct disadvantage. Others say that they dislike being unable to go back and edit a completed essay without prodigious application of an old-fashioned eraser. Personally, my only real objection to Blue Books is the fact that I have to pay for them. Well over $2,000 in fees alone per semester doesn’t seem to get a student very much these days. I don’t think I’ve gotten $10.00 worth of International Globalization Experience so far this term, and certainly not $83.00 worth of undergraduate advising, unless you could the lady who was kind enough to direct my to the bookstore. Where I bought my Blue Books, which are not covered under the $5.00 writing program fee – the writing program being the course for which I need the Blue Books. I wonder what that $5.00 goes to.

…actually, I didn’t participate in weeks five (seasons) and week six (close up). That brings us to week seven, water:

The Most Awesome and Excellent Husband took this shot with his iPhone. It was far better than anything I’d done for the week.

Then we had a collaboration challenge during week eight, to be done with a photography partner. The only real criteria given was that we had to come up with some sort of diptych. My partner and I chose the theme “church” and then combined images.

Week nine’s theme was flare. I took this photo with a few minutes to spare between post-morning coffee dash for the shower, application of intimidating makeup and rush to pack appropriate schoolbooks. I didn’t superimpose any textures to the photo or edit it, aside from cropping. I’m really pleased with the way it came out.

For week ten, our theme was work. Aside from studying, this pretty much sums up my working life.

This week’s theme is “blue”. I’ll keep you posted.

I won’t be back at school until March 22nd, which seems eons away. Bliss! Plenty of time to study and read and write, without trekking downtown only to be told that x lecture is cancelled due to the rain. I can hardly say that I’m pleased with my education at Big State School at this point, last-minute cancellations for unsatisfactory reasons being the least of my concerns. The break in classes is a welcome opportunity to sit back, focus on learning without distraction, and maybe even start that essay needed as part of my transfer application to Little Private School. (That being said, I also find occasion to remind myself on a regular basis not to be such a pompous ass when it comes to criticizing the school environment.)

But anyway. It’s spring break. Like, whatever, dude. Following classes this morning, in celebration of temporary freedom from Scantron oppression, I went to the local big box store to purchase more printer paper, having promised a fellow non-trad classmate (who is so non-traditional that he doesn’t even have a computer) that I’d print and share my notes with him. In addition to the paper, I returned home with this:

Well, with pretty much everything but Rory-cat, who was waiting at the apartment. As this household’s Chief Plant Inspector, he felt the need to get involved as soon as I tore the cover off my nifty peat seed starter kit. Buying plants always feels like a little bit of a luxury to me, but since I had to give up all of my houseplants upon moving back to the States last summer and having never acquired a full family of replacements, today (almostspring!) seemed like a good occasion for a little splurge. As I was waltzing up and down the aisle of seeds, confronted with the impossibility of growing squash on my steep apartment stairs but nevertheless feeling slightly adventurous, I had visions of homegrown tomatoes and chili peppers blended into an exquisite salsa, sustaining us beautifully through the Texas summer. Soon thereafter, with the heat in mind, it also occurred to me that it’s really sad there is no such thing as a margarita plant. Then I saw them. Cactus seeds.

Mixed variety cactus seeds! Contents include: Saguaro, Hedgehog, Fishook Barrel, Dollar Prickly Pear, Desert Prickly Pear, Christmas Cholla, Cane Cholla, Santa Rita Prickly Pear, and Cardo’n. Seriously. How could you not pick up a pack of cactus seeds when your potential future plants include things like Fishook Barrel? The seed packet informs me that there are anywhere from 7 to 56 days until the seeds germinate. I can’t freaking wait. I’ll update again in a week, because it’s so damn exciting that I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to know whether or not the Cardo’n will show any signs of life, and I know you must be, too. I’ll also update with pictures from the 52.5 project, which was the entire point of this little corner of interwebs in the first place. Oh! And there’s sewing to show! And knitting to model! Wow!

*Technically, vernal equinox this year isn’t until March 20th, so the majority of our time off school is actually winter break. Like, whatever, dude.

A yellow thumb tack on our bulletin board at work, where I have spent far too much of my time lately. This week I’ll be working six days. While a couple of my shifts are only three hours, it’s still exhausting. I’ll have to be more clear on the limitations of my availability for next week’s schedule.

Here’s a little bit more about me: I couldn’t remember who the Governor of Texas is today. I’m not a Texan, I haven’t lived here very long, and I really don’t care much about Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison or Kinky Crazyman. Sorry.  Inconveniently, I forgot this key piece of information this morning during an extra credit quiz in my Texas Politics and History course. I’m pretty sure that the excuse “I’m not from Texas, I just moved here, and I’ve spent the past three years living overseas” isn’t going to cut it, either, so I didn’t say anything. And now, after throwing me an especially scathing look, I’m pretty sure the professor thinks I’m a moron. Ironically, she gave out the extra credit quiz because an online extra credit assignment that was to be available from the 11th through the 15th was only up until the 13th, and the majority of the class, thinking they had more time, didn’t do it. Guess who finished it on the 13th?