Saturday, August 09, 2008

Congratulations to my Brother

Whenever I go on a long trip, I take my knitting. In fact, I tend to take more knitting than clothing most of the time. This is how I packed for my most recent trip:

Who knows what project you're going to need?

I have just returned from that trip, a long but satisfying drive, for my brother Alex's graduation. He got his Ph.D. from Auburn.

Among the three of us children, he is the one who got the most "what are you going to do with that" undergrad degree--history--without even the education option fall-back plan. And among all us, he is the one who has been the most steadily employed, at the same place, for the longest period of time. He works here.

In case you're wondering, my other brother, Todd, works here. He is the coolest of the three of us:
(That is little Mickey the dog in his backpack.)


Kevin and I didn't have a lot of extra time for this trip, so we drove down and back to Auburn in the space of 5 days.

The night before graduation, my dad treated us all to a wonderful dinner at a restaurant called the Warehouse Bistro. There, I was able to give my brother his presents.

It was a quiet, dignified restaurant, so I decided that this was the best place to give him a loud, dancing, stuffed chicken. As you can see from the low-quality video I took, it's very hard for Ph.D.s, with their "theoretical knowledge," to understand how to work a stuffed chicken. (That is my mother's hand reaching in to show him how to turn on the chicken.)

Since he reads this blog, I have not been able to show you this quilt that I made for him until now. I admit that I didn't plan for it to be his up front. I did it to make a sample for our braids workshop--but when I had finished it, I realized that it was perfect for my brother. He likes fancy stuff.

So my ecstatic parents got him all graduated....

He finally learned how to work the chicken....

And Kevin and I drove home. And drove. And drove some more.

It's hard for me to quilt in the car, even hand stitching (I can't do anything that I really have to look at, or I get carsick), but whenever we go away, and it's not my turn to drive, I get a lot of knitting done. I have trained myself to knit while looking up.

Although I took 6 projects along, I decided to work mainly on a 1950s-style sweater called "Breakfast at Tiffany's" out of Cherry Tree Hill's Oceania. It was one of those projects that had been sitting around for over a year.

My mother wouldn't let me knit during graduation on account of wanting to keep our family's dignified demeanor during such an occasion. (Yes, I am 49 years old, and my mother still will "not let me" do stuff.) With all the knitting I did in the car, I finished the back of the sweater. The fabric so far looks like this:


If you think about it, graduation is all about completing something that you'd been working on for a long time in little bits and pieces. You get rewards along the way: Classwork finished--check. Comps--check. Dissertation--all done.

Working on a sweater is easier than getting a Ph.D. But in my mind, they're different only in scale. The idea of "gradual" underlies the tasks in much of life. There are always roadblocks, and the secret is to persist on through them until you graduate. Some of the roadblocks are tougher than others. In this case, the roadblock was a simple one: starting the sweater. I'm not done with it yet, but now it's coming along. I'll keep working on it, and when it's finished, I'll graduate to the next project. In the meantime, getting a little subgoal done sure feels good.

What project are you making little bits of progress on?


Kelly said...

Just getting a dancing chicken is reason enough to get a phd! Congratulations Alex - how lucky are you to have Cynthia as a sister!

pfordcj said...

Love your blog, Cynthia! I just added it to my bloglist on my blog, which I just made today.

Congratulations to Alex. It seems just yesterday that he was my friend's kid brother. Paula