When I am an old woman

Tuesday, I was a chaperone for a group of third graders at the zoo, and as we were leaving I met the woman I want to be when I am very old.  Racing to the rendezvous point by our deadline I encouraged the kids, “We’ve made it this far and no one has lost a leg.  Keep going…”  Well the hurrying stopped and the kids proceeded to pretend body parts were falling off.  They limped, dragged and moaned themselves to the exit of the zoo.  Thankfully we had three minutes and I could see the teachers, so I just laughed and kept encouraging them to move forward while the zombie leprosy overtook them.

Of course, while my kids were emulating disastrous disabilities we lurched past a group of really old people in wheelchairs.  Some had oxygen.  All had a helper pushing them.  One was staring at me and my kids.  Her red lipstick both matched the smart red jacket she was wearing and framed the beautiful smile on her face.  She clapped her hands in delight and then held her clasped hands to her chest watching the loud silly kids parade past her.  I don’t think one of them noticed her, but she noticed them, and we noticed each other.  As I walked past she smiled at me and gave me a little wave while she kept laughing.

The kids weren’t being insensitive to people who couldn’t walk, or who were missing body parts.  They were just playing and having fun.  The old lady could have been grouchy.  She could have wished that those loud kids would quiet down so she could enjoy the zoo sounds.  Other old ladies might have shook their heads at me for not making my group of six urchins behave.  But she didn’t.   She recognized the joy of the moment.  The fun that comes after six kids and one grown up have spent the day watching peacocks dance their mating dance, learning about assassin bugs, and picking which fish resembles their daddy.  The excitement of getting to ride back on the bus.  The pride of finishing their whole packet of zoo worksheets before lunch.  It was a great day for us and it was like that old lady had a crystal ball and could see the entire joy of the trip in that last single moment our group had together.

While we were doing our last count of the kids before boarding the bus, the old woman was wheeled past our giant group of 82 kids and chaperones, and still she was smiling.  Even as the kids did obnoxious kid things like play with toys they weren’t going to buy from the gift shop and try to trip each other.  Then she saw me and reached out, so I stepped forward and held her hand, just for a moment, and smiled at her.  As her dry paper skinned hand pulled out of mine I thought, I want to be like her when I grow up.

Octothorp NewFavoriteWord

Prepare yourself readers, for your new favorite word.  It will change your modern day existence.  The word is octothorp.  Now, before you go rushing to Google or your dictionary, be honest.  Do you know this word?  I did not.  In fact, it’s even missing from my Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary: nothing between octosyllable and ocul-.  Now that I know this word, I love it.


What is an octothorp?  It’s a pound sign.  A #.  A symbol that has taken on such an important role.  Imagine with me, if you will, calling into any automated phone system.  Maybe you are refilling a prescription, joining a conference call, or calling your bank.  Inevitably you are requested to:

enter in your something followed by the pound sign

I bet reading that you can hear the computer’s voice in your head, and feel the anxiousness.  Was that the right number?  Should I have pressed the 2 menu instead of the 4 menu?  Now just replace that computerized request for a pound sign with the word octothorp.  It’s still accurate, but what would people do if such a request was made?  Imagine the chaos.

Octothorp confused.  Octothorp hatemybank.

Right?  People would race to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and write about their bad customer experience using the newest, most succinct way to convey emotion, sarcasm and cynicism.  The hashtag, which are denoted by the preceding octothorp.

Do it now, go to your favorite social media site and just enjoy reading all those octothorps.  My Twitter feed has Octothorp persist.  Octothorp champs.  Octothorp amwriting.

Oh yeah.   I’m writing.  About Octothorps.

Octothorp awesome.

#NewFavoriteWord #Octothorp

 

Afthead Takes Pictures

More Afthead upgrades came with the new year!  Can you believe it?  I mentioned in my last post that I started list of books I’m reading because I “can’t handle another social media time sucker like Goodreads.”  Well, I snubbed Goodreads because I had already started another social media time sucker.  Yes, dear readers, Afthead is now on Twitter and Instagram!  (Instagram is the new one.)  So exciting!

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Snow Chicken – Instagram Post

I picked Instagram because the past year I found myself taking pictures with the thought “I’m going to write a blog post about this.”  However, life and time move on and I don’t always write the post.  Instagram gives me a platform for writing microstories about little things that tickle my Afthead.

Threek – Instagram Post

So if you want to follow my Instagram feed you can either check it out on my blog – I added the Instagram widget – or you can click the Instagram button in my “Socially Inept” section or you can just look for “Aftheaded” on Instagram.  (This is all if you just didn’t click the links in the post already.)  Already there are sixteen pictures ranging from a snowchicken, bird poop, a threek, and inappropriate rocks: note only two of my pictures actually made it into blog posts, so my experiment is working.  (I mean, if you ignore this post…)  Join my 16 followers for a peek into the visual Afthead world.

 


Oh, and if anyone else has ever wanted to add the Instagram widget to their blog and ended up weeping in frustration, let me direct you to this support post.  I had to add the widget from the WordPress Admin, not from the page where you customize your theme.  Ah, the work I do to keep things fresh and interesting around here.  

 

 

Living Nightmare

Public speaking.  I know it’s something that gives some people chills, makes them sick to their stomach and causes dread to course through their body.  Personally, I’ve always enjoyed public speaking.  I like standing in front of a crowd, any size, and delivering prepared remarks, unprepared remarks, or off-the-cuff thoughts.  I don’t know if my ease is due to my years in high school drama, or a genetic predisposition, but public speaking is fun.

Today I had a presentation at 8:00a.m.  Before I got settled at the speaker table at the room’s front I ran to the bathroom, because we were going to be there for two hours between the presentations and time for questions.  My section went really well.  There were some laughs, lots of head nods, and good eye contact.  The other presentations were interesting, and the question and answer sessions provided insight.  It was a really good experience.

I finished and hurried out to get on a conference call with a colleague.  We sat on the floor, because all the chairs we could see were taken, and shared her Apple earbuds to talk and listen.  Then I confidently strode around the exhibit hall learning all about the wide variety of things you find in any conference exhibit hall.  Famished, I texted a friend, and we met up for a crappy lunch at the convention center food court.  After lunch I wandered trying to find the speaker ready room to complete my last speaker task:  making sure they had the right version of my presentation to distribute with the conference materials.

Cue the nightmare.

While I was inspecting a map of the conference facilities a strange man came up to me and softly said, “Your pants are unzipped.”

“Oh, thank you!” I exclaimed and reached down to zip.  The zipper didn’t go all the way up, I could feel the gap, but rather than mess around with my crotch in a busy hallway I decided to duck into somewhere private to fix the issue.  There was a restroom close by, so I pushed through the door, looked up and saw three men.  Crap.  I was in the men’s restroom.

My fly forgotten I bolted out and headed for the exit of the convention center doing math in my head.  Five hours.   I’d had my pants unzipped for five hours.  For most of the presentation I was behind a lectern or a table which was skirted, so probably no one saw my underwear.  The rest of the time?  Ugh.

End nightmare

Whenever someone afraid of public speaking asks me “How do you do it?  How do you get up there and talk in front of everyone?”  I always reply, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?”  Now, I’ll have a real world example to share with them.  Once I got back to my hotel room and appropriately dressed myself I grabbed for my phone and started texting my friends and family.  Really the story is hysterical.  I hope I never see any of those three bathroom men again, but thank goodness for the one stranger who was brave enough to tell me about my grooming lapse.  So…uh…yay public speaking!

Painting Knew Year

Lest you think knitting was my only New Year’s accomplishment let me show you my second completed project.  July 3rd I had a cockamamie idea to change the color of our basement bathroom from light Grimace to radioactive sea foam.  The old color was bad but the green was so bright it literally changed the color of other objects in the bathroom.  

Unfortunately, there is nothing like making a bad paint color choice to hamper the ability to make a new color choice.  “What if I pick something worse?”  (Like that’s possible.)  So the paint stayed, but I never took off the blue painters’ tape as an acknowledgement of my terrible mistake.

Then as part of our post holiday stuff-purge Mr. Afthead happened upon an almost full half gallon of paint we had from long ago: a color we both loved, but replaced when our daughter asked for a blue room.   It was eggshell finish, not my preferred semigloss for bathrooms, but I wasn’t going to be picky.  Thus it came to pass that I was sick on New Years Eve – too sick to party but not too sick to take to bed – and upon that night where an old year changes to new I did paint the dreaded bathroom.  It was glorious.  Note the toilet is again white!  A New Year’s miracle.  

If anyone needs most of a half gallon of paint for something that really needs to be seen, even in the darkest night, you let me know.  I probably won’t get to the paint store to recycle it for a bit.

Wow!  So productive!  What else could an Afthead accomplish in the new year?  Just you wait and see…

A Knit Dilemma of Presidential Proportions – Epilogue

It’s over.  Rather, they are both over.  The human election and the toy election are done and that makes me sad.  I’m still processing the results of the human election, but that is a different post.  Today I had to clean off my desk to start working on non-Tiny-Knit writing projects again.  Many toys have already gone back into circulation, and the knit creatures have been discovered by the cats.  I found Tiny Knit Zombie Trump in the corner with his hair ripped off – some feline was pissed and wasn’t afraid to take it out on the little green guy.  Before the favorite characters were put away my daughter and I made a final scene to let you know what to expect from the toys throughout Tiny Knit Hillary’s term in office.

Epilogue

Barbie, Knit Snowman, and Knit Owl are very concerned about the number of toys that didn’t vote, and the quality of the voting that did occur.  They are going to use the R2D2 supercomputer to help them model how to build a more informed electorate for the next election.

The Santas have loaded up their car with tiny knit Trump hair, ballots, and Santa’s very heavy sack.  The hair is going to the toy Smithsonian museum and the ballots to the toy National Archives so that the importance of this election can be remembered.  The North Pole is on alert that the naughty and nice list is coming in Santa’s sack and it’s gigantic.  Never has Santa seen so much naughtiness and niceness.  It’s going to be a tough job to get everything processed before Christmas, but the elves are prepped and ready.  Mrs. Claus has even stepped up her baking early to ensure that everyone will be will properly sugared up for the analysis.  The next big season is all on the Santas, and they are not going to let the toys down.

Tiny knit Vice President Zombie has put his acorn cap back on and is going to focus on the environment and climate.  He’s built a team of creatures impacted by environmental change plus Lego Green Troll to help him determine what policies need to be considered.  (Lego Green Troll is still not sure what the black and white creatures are doing on this green team is and getting ready to ask if he can paint them.)

The bad guys are planning to steal President Tiny Knit Hillary’s invisible supersonic jet and take it for a joy ride.  Tiny Knit Chicken is going with them because she has always wanted to fly.  She is hoping that Santa won’t find out about this last “naughty” act, because she asked for meal-worms for Christmas, and Tiny Knit Zombie told her that he could make that happen if she gave him her “I voted” sticker.

And the new President?  What is SHE up to?  Well, she’s appointed her chief of staff: Lego Hipster with Crazy Cloak.  She calls him Jonas.  (You know he’s a hipster because of the beard.)  Jonas was a strong supporter during the election, and he can also serve as her Secret Service and head of Department of Defense because of the laser beams that shoot out of his scary red eyes.  Having him serve multiple positions is a good way to keep her cabinet small and save the toy tax payers some money.  Their first job is to talk to the old polling place lady and see how to streamline the ballot and sticker efforts for the next election cycle.

Everything seems okay, except…  wait…  What is Lego Mad Scientist up to now?  It appears that one of the bad guys has another evil plan, and you know that Lego Mad Scientist still smarts from having his last evil plan thwarted.  If his expertly knit candidate were president Lego Mad Scientist would have had an important role in the cabinet.  But President Tiny Knit Hillary won’t even talk to him, and that Jonas guy keeps glaring at him with smoking eyes.  Undoubtedly Lego Mad Scientist is going to continue to cause problems for this administration.

So there you have it.  There are some good things going on and some bad things.  The new government is focusing on some issues, but with limited resources they can’t solve all the problems.  Hopefully they will move the toys forward more than they move them back, and the next election cycle maybe someone else will come along and focus on the things they let slide.  Then those toy elected officials will move the country forward in a different direction so that in the end all the toys feel that their critical needs are being met.  That’s the way it is supposed to work.

The End

Acknowledgements

This was about me having fun teaching Afthead Junior about the election process in my own quirky way.  I loved making up this story for her, and while I’m sad that we didn’t get to celebrate the first human female president together, I am tickled by how much she enjoyed the story building.  She told her class about our toy election and still giggles about the line “…the early bird gets the worm, and the ‘I voted’ sticker“.  In four years she might be too cool and I might be to lame for us to do this together, so I’m so grateful that we had this election together.  I’m also grateful for her help and ideas during our photo shoots. She’s also a great cat herder.  Man, nothing destroys a toy election faster than a one year old cat!

A huge thanks to you readers who went on this journey with me.  What a hoot.  I loved your comments and your likes.  I hope you enjoyed this half as much as I did.  Now, back to that novel that needs editing, that short story that needs submitting, and that other short story, and that really hard post about the human election.


 

Final post in a series of tiny knit presidential dilemmas.  See the fifth post here, fourth post here, third post here, second post here, and the first post here.

Thank you to Anna Hrachovec for the amazing patterns!  Please visit her site at http://mochimochiland.com/.

The Final Knit Dilemma of Presidential Proportions – Election Day

At last the toys get to elect their leader.  Weeks have passed and everyone is tired of arguing with their relatives and watching political ads during live baseball games. At dawn election morning the extremely old ladies who run the balloting office open the door and find a line of voters stretching farther than they can see, even with their glasses on.

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The ladies quickly turn to their desk and start worrying:

“We don’t have enough ballots.  There are so many people.”

“We can make more.”

“We also don’t have nearly enough stickers, and I promised my granddaughter one.”

“Here, take one before they come in.”

After hiding a sticker under their desk, the two elderly ladies greet the first voter, Tiny Knit Chicken, who knows that the early bird gets the worm, and the “I Voted” sticker.

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Each toy steps into the voting booth to pick their leader.  With large amounts of disgruntlement and small amounts of election knowledge many toys pick the “Write in” option and enter invalid choices, misspell names, or forget to check the box.  The election commissioner will throw out all mistakes without a care.  It does not matter to her that it is really difficult to write without opposable thumbs and at most two fingers.

At last every ballot has been cast and the election commissioner arrives to tally. She is horrified by the state of the ballots, but in the end the results are clear.  There is just one last regulation to check.

Tiny Knit Zombie Trump admires the sticker Tiny Knit Chicken gave him while Tiny Knit Clinton chats with her friends the Old Lego Ladies.  Toys mill about waiting to hear the results.  As the commissioner approaches Lego Mad Scientist senses that something might be going awry with his master plan, so he moves closer to eavesdrop.

“I have some good news and some bad news for you Mr. Tiny Knit Zombie Trump.”

Tiny Knit Zombie Trump moans and strokes his sticker.

“Due to invalid voting processes 247 ballots were disallowed.  When the remaining nine ballots were counted you won our toy election by a margin of 5 – 4.”  Before Tiny Knit Zombie Trump can let out an excited groan she continues, “However, the regulations say you must have a registered birth certificate with the election commission and your records appear to be missing.  Unless you can produce valid certification I’m afraid you must concede.”  She adjusts her pantsuit and the watching electorate wonders if this might be a conspiracy created by a biased commissioner.

Tiny Knit Zombie Trump shakes his head and moans, and Tiny Knit Hillary, who does not wants to win on a technicality, springs into action.  She was a former Secretary of State.  She has friends all over the world who can help.  Boarding her invisible supersonic jet she begins scouring records departments all over the planet looking for Tiny Knit Zombie’s birth certificate.

While flying over the diminished Arctic, her phone rings.  It is the commissioner.  Lego Mad Scientist has admitted he created Tiny Knit Zombie Trump and, in his excitement, neglected to file the correct paperwork.  Tiny Knit Zombie Trump is prepared to forfeit his win to Tiny Knit Clinton.

Tiny Knit Hillary lands her jet and approaches her opponent.  In flight she has made a decision.  The toys deserve better than to be governed by someone who won only 4/256ths of the vote.  She can do marginally better.  Wrapping her arm around Tiny Knit Zombie Trump her first act as President is to allow for non-citizens to be Vice Presidents.  Together their 9/256ths will govern the toys, and find ways to help the marginalized, the scientists, the evil doers, the green, the knitted, and the non-knitted alike.  As the confetti falls the toys celebrate the end of the election.  Tiny Knit Clinton wishes she had her binder containing her first 100 day plan so she could add “Change Vice President rule” to the top of the list while Tiny Knit Zombie Trump strokes his sticker and breathes in the delicious scent of Tiny Knit Clinton’s enormous brain.


 

Fifth and final post in a series of tiny knit presidential dilemmas.  See the fourth post here, third post here, second post here, and the first post here.

Thank you to Anna Hrachovec for the amazing pattern!  Please see http://mochimochiland.com/shop/tiny-zombie-kit/ for the zombie pattern and visit her site at http://mochimochiland.com/.

The Penultimate Knit Dilemma of Presidential Proportions

At last the tiny knit debate.  The two candidates, dressed in their parties’ traditional colors, approach their lecterns with neither a handshake or even an acknowledgement between them.  They are rivals.  Santa was chosen as the moderator and the candidates and members of the debate audience have been forewarned that he will use his “naughty or nice list” if things get out of hand.  The list is in his bag and he’s not afraid to use it.

The debate is similar to the human presidential debates, but there are some marked differences.  With no mouths to speak the candidates must express their opinions though wild gesticulation, sighs, head shakes, groans and moans. So, basically what you would have seen on television if you had the human debate on mute.

The toy debate turns to the topic of the environment and climate change.  The question is directed to tiny knit Secretary Clinton. She comes armed and displays her tomes of knowledge.  Passionately she points out picture after picture of ecosystems decimated by changes in the climate.

Tiny knit zombie stops his moaning and stomping when tiny knit Clinton mentions trees and listens intently.  Tiny knit zombie Trump loves trees and the more tiny knit Clinton talks the more he fears for his friends the trees.  When Santa asks if zombie Trump has anything to add he reaches beneath his lectern and pulls out his favorite hat: a double acorn cap he found in the forest.

A melee ensues.  The evil toys cannot believe that their hand knit candidate is willing to side with his opponent.  Fights break out in the audience and even Santa’s shouts of “naughty, naughty, naughty” don’t stop the combatants.  Tiny knit chicken tries to hatch Viking’s head.  Witch knocks Snowman over and threatens her with a melting potion.  In short, it gets ugly.

While Santa tries to regain control over the audience, something amazing happens on stage initially unnoticed by the crowd.  Tiny knit zombie Trump and tiny knit Clinton turn and actually look at each other.  She admires his hat.  He admires her pile of books.  They each wonder if the difference between them are really that great.  She’s always been an outsider because of her love of research and policy.  He’s always been an outsider because he has an unnatural palate, hair and skin tone.  Tiny knit Trump realizes he’s a infant in the political arena compared to her, while she considers that his fresh perspective might be good for the toy community.

Slowly he reaches out his hand.  She responds by reaching out her own.  Together they stand and one by one the toys stop their fighting and watch what their chosen potential leaders are doing on stage.  Some are horrified, but others are impressed by their candidate’s willingness to reach across the aisle and put aside differences to find commonality.  The election takes an unexpected turn days before the vote.


Forth post in a series of tiny knit presidential dilemmas.  See the third post here, second post here, and the first post here.

Thank you to Anna Hrachovec for the amazing pattern!  Please see http://mochimochiland.com/shop/tiny-zombie-kit/ for the zombie pattern and visit her site at http://mochimochiland.com/.

A Continuing Knit Dilemma of Presidential Proportions

Frustrated with their tiny knit presidential candidate situation the bad guys and evil Lego figures took matters into their own molded plastic hands, as evildoers so often do.  If no tiny knit Trump was going to be an option for them, they were going to create a leader they could follow.  As a surprise to everyone, mad scientist Lego has some pretty decent skills with the double pointed needles.

Voila!  Tiny knit zombie is complete and was presented to the leaderless toys, but something didn’t seem right.  While tiny knit zombie was evil and green he just didn’t seem presidential.  How would he attract undecided voters?  Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of a zombie – even a mouthless zombie who can’t eat brains – as president.  They needed to do something to improve his image.  

Mad Scientist turned to the real human election for inspiration, and with just a few stitches tiny knit zombie became a viable candidate.


Complete with red tie and a distinctive toupee, the toys present tiny knit Trump-like zombie candidate!  Now there is a brain enjoying leader any toy can support, or that’s what these guys hope.  Let’s see how he does against tiny knit Hillary in the debate.  In the meantime, we are going to keep him away from the baby toys, because the way he “kisses” their head makes the mommy toys a bit uncomfortable.  It’s like he’s smelling veal as he caresses their little heads.  Hopefully he can overcome that flaw.


Third post in a potential series of tiny knit presidential dilemmas.  See the second post here, and the first post here.

Thank you to Anna Hrachovec for the amazing pattern!  Please see http://mochimochiland.com/shop/tiny-zombie-kit/ for the zombie pattern and visit her site at http://mochimochiland.com/.

Another Knit Dilemma of Presidential Proportions

I just couldn’t make a tiny knit Trump last night.  I turned my back on my plans at the last minute.  The debate started and my double pointed needles refused to be sullied with Trump yarn.

Then, the unexpected happened when a certain subset of toys revolted.  It turns out some Lego figures – with ringleaders mad scientist, witch, and Viking – joined with The Joker, Little People The Joker, and Two Face to violently protest tiny knit Hillary being the only candidate in our household.

It’s chaos here.  Tiny knit Hillary is safe, and recovering, but we need a second tiny knit option for president.  Who could have anticipated this turn of events?


Second post in a potential series of tiny knit presidential dilemmas.  See the first post here.

Thank you to Anna Hrachovec for the amazing pattern!  Please see   http://mochimochiland.com/2016/09/free-pattern-tiny-trump-and-tiny-hillary/ for the pattern and visit her site at http://mochimochiland.com/.