Knitting! Plus some gardening, cocktails, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

All About R

I took Cara up on her offer to assign letters for the new meme journeying around the blogosphere. She gave me R. So here are 10 things, ideas, themes, theories that pertain to me that start with R.

1. READING Compared to today’s children, I was a late reader. I started first grade two months before my seventh birthday, and I couldn’t really read. By the end of third grade, I had finished eighth grade spelling and reading. I started a little late, but I was primed and took flight. I can’t imagine life without reading. In addition to all the science reading I do, I read fiction, non-fiction, poetry, blogs, newspapers, food labels, you name it. Usually, I read between 50-70 books in a year. Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion are my two favorite novels, but I am also a big fan of the hard-boiled detective mysteries of Raymond Chandler featuring Philip Marlowe. Currently, I am reading several historical series of mysteries including Susanna Gregory’s Matthew Bartholomew Chronicles (14th century Cambridge) and the Sugawara Akitada mysteries set in 12th century Japan by I.J. Parker. I am also reading my way through Freya Stark’s travel memoirs through the Middle East in the 1930s. My father was an American Literature professor and my mother a high school English teacher, and I have always received books for birthday and Christmas presents. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

2. RED Red is best. My sofa is red. I always carry a red purse and wallet. I prefer red wine to white. I tried to eat vegetarian during Lent one year; I ate lots of protein, but I still ended up dreaming of red meat. In my stash, I have red alpaca sport weight to make a cabled scarf, red fingering weight suri alpaca for a shawl, red worsted weight wool/alpaca blend to knit a jacket, dark red bulky weight to knit a sweater, and berry sea silk for a lace scarf from Victorian Lace Today (we won’t go into the sock yarn). In high school a snotty male classmate criticized me for wearing red lipstick one day. “Smart girls shouldn’t wear red lipstick,” he said. I wore red lipstick almost everyday of high school after that. Whenever I wear red, I am guaranteed that someone will tell me that “red is my color.” Indeed.

3. RASPBERRIES Perfect fruit. Perfect flavor, texture, shape, juciness, and of course, color. Raspberries are served for breakfast in heaven. Need I say more?

4. RESEARCH We all do research to a certain extent in our lives. We gather and analyze information even when buying toothpaste. We live in an information age. But I get paid to do research. Biochemistry, molecular biology, DNA, proteins, genomes sort of research. I grow cells, isolate DNA molecules and proteins and then mix them together in various combinations under multitudes of conditions, and then I meticulously record what happens. I repeat and repeat experiments until my data are statistically significant. I write my findings up into scientific manuscripts which get published after peer review. I love it.

5. RELAXATION When it comes to relaxation, I flunk. I’m good at doing nothing, but not in a relaxed manner. A couple of years ago my quotidian battle with anxiety got bad enough that I needed pharmaceutical intervention for a while. A couple of weeks after starting the medication while M and I were out grocery shopping together, I noticed that I felt very strange: sort of limp and floppy. However, all my muscles worked just fine. I wondered if I needed to go to the ER. I puzzled and puzzed til my puzzler was sore (ala the Grinch) and then I thought of something I hadn’t before. I was actually relaxed. M is the one who helped me reach this conclusion. I was pretty embarrassed; he thought it was hilarious. Now I work pretty regularily to be relaxed. How screwed up is that?

6. RUSSIAN I minored in Russian in college. I took Russian to see if it was hard (German in high school was too easy). Russian was easy too, until I started reading true Russian literature. I don’t understand Russian literature at all. I could translate the words and sentences just fine. But what does it mean when a nose is found in a loaf of bread, and then later in the day is seen walking down the street dressed in clothes? I’m stumped. The Nose is a short story by Gogol.

7. RAIN Here in the Central Valley of California, it doesn’t rain during the summer. Not a drop. Sun, sun, sun from sometime in April until late October at least. Then it’s rain, rain, rain in December and January. I used to love rain when I lived in the Midwest and it rained every several days through out the year. Now I pine for rain in the summer (and thunderstorms!) and loath it in the winter. I clearly have rain issues.

8. ROUND Round is probably the best adjective to describe me in so many ways. My face is round and has full cheeks; my body is round like a bosc pear. People have complimented me on being well-rounded intellectually. When I am anxious my mind races round and round in frantic analytical circles. My favorite Christmas tree ornaments are round balls. Green peas are my favorite vegetable. I haven’t yet been around the world though. Someday.

9. RISK Anxiety keeps me from being a big risk taker. The fear of devastating failure keeps me pretty prudent. But that is why I like knitting and beading so much. I can always rip, frog, unstring, unweave with usually little risk. It’s like a get out of jail free card or being able to beat entropy. As I’ve grown older I can take more substantive risks without fear, but you won’t find me operating M’s table saw if I can help it.

10. ROSE The rose is a beautiful flower and I love so many of their attributes. The sweet spicy smell. The velvety petals arrayed in a perfect logarithmic spiral. The tight buds that slowly unfurl to the full blown flower. The funny thing is that the one color of rose I don’t really like is red. Yellow roses, white roses, pink roses, all gorgeous. Red roses? Funeral flowers. Go figure.

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