Monday, September 24, 2007

My Baby Loves the Dirt...

...By which I mean, I took my Jeep through the local woodland tract, and she handled it like a dream. Sunday, Mike and Jim and Colleen took Mike's truck (a ford bronco) and my Jeep out to play.

The woods have always felt like home to me. Our local state forest is lovely and peaceful and I've been camping or hiking or driving through it pretty much my whole life. Georgie, I'm not sure what your forest looks like, but ours is full of tall, slender pines that have bunches of needles towards the top halves, and lots of scrub bushes that turn a gorgeous red color in the autumn and only come up about to your knees in most parts. This is no forest primeval, but it still feels right, somehow. It suits our state--a little different, but comfortable nonetheless.

Tomorrow, Mike, Jim, and I are going up to Pennsylvania to look at the potential neighborhoods we'll be renting a house in. Did I mention we're looking for a house? Jim's sister, Colleen, will be moving in with us, so we can afford the rent. And more space would be nice. The guys, somewhat stereotypically, are mostly sitting back and watch as I drive myself to distraction trying to plan things (can we say type a personality?). Thankfully, Colleen's been helping with ideas and such.

In knitting news, I'm succumbing to the phenomena I think of as, "I have three months before Christmas, surely I can knit one baby blanket, four scarves, two sweaters, and nine pairs of socks" syndrome, which displays classic, easily identifiable symptoms. Sufferers have no sense of time, nor of proportion. They are willing to sacrifice sleep, eating, reading, and even making eye contact with their family, to meet the (impossible) goal. Early symptoms include thoughts or sentences that start with, "well, if I don't do any reading/sleeping/breathing/spending any time with friends, and I hurry and knit a lot every day, I could maybe do another scarf or two..."

I say this because I'm seriously considering making scarves for two of my friends for Christmas. The ugly scarf is moving along pretty quickly, for me, but not quickly enough for all that. Plus, I want to knit a blanket or something cute and baby-related for my boss's impending infant, and something along the lines of a teddy bear for her son. My cousin's scarf is stalled, because I loathe novelty yarns. It's just really frustrating to work with, but it doesn't look half bad. All this is going on while I've signed myself up for Julie's strikke-along, having decided that I'm making my first (real) socks from a pattern with a chart (another first), on four needles (eep!).

Time for bed now, I'm feeling decidedly lightheaded at the thought of all this knitting...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Rather Shorter Post...

...because otherwise, I'm afraid I'm going to be responsible for giving people eye strain. Well, that, and I'm boring.

Not much to report on here, I'm just getting home from work. I would rather have stayed home and cleaned, at least that gives one some satisfaction. But then, I'd rather be stuck doing those horrid story problems (if farmer brown has six chickens on train a which is traveling from point r at a speed of x, and farmer green has thirty-nine gorillas traveling on train c which leaves destination w at a speed of mach 1, when will they collide? at what time will farmers brown and green be notified of the collision? extra credit: don't show any work) instead of going into work.

I'm beginning to think I hate my job not just because it's retail, but because it's retail auto parts. Don't get me wrong, I love cars. I like to work on them and get my hands dirty and fix things. I'm pretty good at it, too. But what I'm really tired of are the people. A typical customer looks at me and says, "oh! A girl! In an auto parts store! Imagine that!" or something along those lines. I absolutely loved training one of my younger co-workers, customers used to walk right past me to ask him questions, which he would then turn to me and repeat, word for word. I would then answer him, and he would repeat my answer to the customer. Yeah. Sexism sucks. But you don't wanna hear me rant about that, this would be another really long one.

Progress on my scarves is continuing, slowly (because i am but a lowly knitting n00b) but surely. I have about two and a half, maybe three feet of what I privately think of as The Ugly Scarf, which is publicly known as Jim's scarf. It's made of camouflage-colored acrylic yarn. It's ugly. But it'll make him happy and stand up to dirt, so it's all good. My cousin's scarf is coming along less quickly, but it can be much shorter, so it should be finished soon, I hope. Mom generously donated yarn for the socks I'm going to be embarking on, so it looks like all I have to do is sign up for the stricke-along.

So much for short, eh? I always did love to talk...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Because Change is a Good Thing...

...right?

So I decided to go with a change. It was time. Granted, I'd done this before, but nothing's ever exactly the same twice, you know?

I'm a natural blonde, and for most of my life, my hair's been pretty long; at some points, it was down to my waist. It's fun, but inconvenient, and I always keep it pulled back. My senior year of high school, I had Momolla cut my hair up to my chin, and then we dyed it red. Bright red. Hey, look over here at my hair isn't it red red. That's the color we went with. It was great, but I couldn't afford the dye a few years ago, so I went back to blonde and let it grow out. Yesterday I went back to short and red. It's a little more coppery than I normally like it, but it's so much fun. For the record, the old cliche is wrong, redheads have more fun. Trust me, I've done both. So yeah, the hair's different, and I love it. I feel more like me with red hair. The other benefit is I don't have to listen to people tell my dumb blonde jokes and get offended when I don't laugh.

In other news, I bought a new car. I'm selling my current car to Jim's mom, she needs a sedan, and I need something with four-wheel drive. It's not that I'm looking to go offroading or anything, but it's a matter of needing a way to get around in bad weather. As it stands, Momolla and Dadums both have four-wheel drive cars, so when there's three inches of solid ice on the ground, I can borrow one of their cars to get to work. Once I move, I'll be on my own for getting to work. I'm not expecting massive amounts of snow, but Pennsylvania's good for at least one or two good winter storms, and when you're the new person at a retail gig, calling out of work unless you're clinically dead just isn't an option.

My new baby is a 97 Jeep Cherokee two-door model. It's got the Jeep straight six cylinder engine, which is pretty powerful and pretty reliable. It's also a manual transmission, which I have reallllly missed this last year or so. It's got no power things, which is exactly what I wanted, power windows and door locks just break, and I'm not looking for a car that's going to need lots of parts replaced. This car is soooo clean, too. The body's straight and in excellent shape, and it doesn't have too many miles. I'm excited to start driving her, but I can't get down to Motor Vehicles to get her registered and all legal-like til Tuesday. Wednesday, though, I'll be a happy little Emmy. Most of the credit for the new car goes to Jim, he found the ad and contacted the seller. He and Mike came and looked at it with me, and I think the three of us scared the poor guy, who's not mechanically inclined at all. Still, he sold it to me. It was a little out of my budget range, but Jim's helping me pay for it, so I'll manage things.

I've found religion. At least, that's what it feels like. I'm going to cast on for my very second sock (i've got about three and a half inches of two by two ribbing on a set of mom's needles that's just not fated to be), just as soon as I order some yarn. I've picked a pattern, Conwy, out of Momola's Knitting on the Road book. At least, I think that's the title, I haven't got it in front of me for reference. It's by Nancy Bush, and Mom found her traveler's stockings in it. The pattern doesn't look too terribly difficult, but it's a chart, and I've never worked off a chart. Plus, it's written for four needles. That should be an adventure. All I need to do is find me some sock yarn. This will probably become a habit, as I have discovered a love of handknit socks, and the only way to get a lot is to make them. Wish me luck!

edit:damn, i talk too much...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Trolls, not of the "Treasure" Variety

I felt the need to post this because I feel like I've lost a little part of my innocence here. I found the online knitting blog community through my mom, and that has been such a friendly, welcoming group. And then, there was Ed. Ed is a particularly vicious troll. He's also apparently not bright. He went to Mom's blog and left a comment about how boring her life must be if she's blogging about yarn. Never mind the fact that Mom is an avid knitter. Never mind that it makes perfect sense for a craftswoman to be excited over getting new materials. He just felt the need to criticize. There's a difference between disagreeing, and being a jerk. This guy sure does fall into the second category.

Call me naive, call me foolish, but I was raised to believe that politeness matters and that being nice counts. I was not raised to be a pushover, nor to be cloying. I firmly support freedom of speech. However, freedom of speech does not guarantee you the right to be an asshole whenever and to whomever you please. It also does not guarantee you protection from getting your butt kickedif you're offensive, or from being told you're downright unpleasant. I am not making threats, I am not throwing stones. "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" (The Friends of Voltaire, 1906). Everyone has the right to express their opinion. Everyone also must live with the consequences of his or her actions.

At any rate, what you put out comes back to you in this world. Maybe not in this lifetime, and maybe not in ways we see or understand right away, but it all comes back to you. If you spew negativity out, then negativity is what you will get back. Nature loves balance. This seems so common-sense, but I guess maybe it isn't. Or maybe we've just gotten to the point where we've forgotten that nice matters. I don't think that's entirely true, either. Look at all the people out there who leave encouraging, friendly comments. Ah, well. I'll just stick to making my corner of the world and the net a happy, friendly, or at the very least, civil place. Sorry to rant at you all, unneccecary jerk-itude always pisses me off.

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's done!!!!

Yup, I finished the baby blanket yesterday. It is a thing of beauty, if I do say so myself. And after how long it took, I sure do! Now that it's done, I'll take some pictures and post a good one or two so you can see it. It's a really simple pattern, but I'm a really slow knitter.

Sorry for the horrifically long last couple of posts, I got a little carried away recounting the joys of vacation. I'll try to pare it down a little the next time I get to write one on the same topic (you've got a few years before you have to read another epic like the last, no vacations for a while).

Back to work today, in an hour, actually. Ah, reality. So vastly overrated sometimes.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Mmmmmm, part two

Sorry, forgot to adjust the font size. I'll get back into the swing of this, somehow.

At any rate, once we got settled in and Jim had a nice, long nap, we went for a walk on the beach. After all, you can't have a vacation on the beach and not walk on the sand when you get there, right? So away we went. And let me tell you, it was beautiful. I haven't been to very many beaches, but so far, Myrtle Beach is my favorite. The sand is soft and clean and fine, and the water is so clear and so green and so warm. I hardly knew what to do with myself. Once we'd had a nice stroll, we ate dinner somewhere truly exotic and fascinatingly new--Friendly's. Yeah, let me tell you how Friendly's is a national chain, and we have one all of five minutes from Jim's place up here in Jersey. Still, it was close to our condo, and we knew the food would be good. And besides, we were thoroughly tired, and really just wanted dinner and bed.

A few words about the condo: it was pretty neat. Other than that, I can tell you that it was definitely decorated by a woman, as there were sprays of fake flowers everywhere. At least they were fairly tasteful. There was a master bedroom and a smaller one, each with its own bathroom. We slept in the master bedroom, and basically ignored the second one. I wish we'd been able to convince some friends to come down, too, but I have to say, it was nice to have time just for Jim and me. Soon enough, we'll be sharing an apartment with a friend and trying to make that work without killing each other. So, yeah. This was wonderful. We were on the sixth floor, with a fairly nice view. You could see the ocean, but there were some other hotels between us and the water. The condo building is about a block and a half from the beach, not a long walk at all. The only downside I can really point out is that the kitchen was really terribly stocked. Obviously, there was no food (it is a rental area, we weren't expecting any), and there were lots of dishes--plates, cups, etc. But the pans and pots and spoons and such for actual cookery were just...sad. I guess Jim and I are weird, but we like to cook together. And when you're on vacation, it's nice to be waited on, but it's also pretty cool to cook dinner and eat something you've made. Ah, well.

Most of our time was spend relaxing; we really didn't do much. Don't get me wrong, that's certainly not a problem. We didn't have too many adventures, but the ones we did were pretty great. On our fourth day, we went parasailing. Basically, you get dragged out to a boat on a raft, hooked up to a huge parachute with a couple of feet of straps and some carabiners, and then they let you go. It was awesome to be up in the air, I've always loved being up high. We could see so much of the water, and so far inland. It was rather pleasant, and lots of fun. And yet, my stomach just didn't approve. Let's just say that there was some gastric unpleasantness, and that the crew on the boat brought us in and had us on our way back to the beach and some anti-nausea stuff pretty quickly.

Our other big adventure was mini-golfing. Sure, it doesn't sound very exciting, but the courses down there are so elaborate, so huge, it's always an adventure. We picked one with a silly name and a huge complex, called "Mt. Atlanticus Minotaur Goff" because, well, we're suckers for silly stuff like that. Jim, being somewhat coordinated, likes to play and be competetive. Me, having just enough coordination to walk, and sometimes run (but only in life-or-death situations), I just thwack the ball around til it makes it into the hole. Aim? Nah. I just thwack it. I don't even let it come to rest before I thwack it again, sometimes. Once I even toed it into the hole, when I thought Jim wasn't looking. It's not cheating if we're not keeping score, right?

Other than that, there was a fantastic dinner at a local restaurant called the Aspen Grille. It was definitely a "nice" restaurant, and not one we could normall afford to patronize. But hell, this was vacation, right? The waiter was nice without being obsequious, and the food was phenomenal. We started with a bruschetta which was tasty, and just a bit sweeter than we were used to, then Jim enjoyed his NY strip steak mightily. I opted for the surf'n'turf, and I enjoyed every bite of that filet and the lobster (surf and turf is a smallish filet mignon and a lobster tail, along with some sides and some pretty garnish-y things). The presentation was gorgeous, I almost felt bad taking it apart to eat it. And yet, it went down pretty easy. We split some bananas foster for dessert (bananas sauteed with butter, brown sugar, banana liquer, and grand mariner, then served with ice cream), and feeling stuffed, headed back to the condo to change and take a stroll on the beach.

I feel not at all guilty about the food we ate down there (not what one would normally consider healthy, balanced meals--we had cheese fries and ice cream for lunch at least once), because we did a lot of walking on the beach and on the strand. We stayed up late watching movies, slept in every morning, and then took naps. We wandered on the beach, we wandered in the town. We used copious amounts of sunblock. All in all, it was a fantastic week, and I have no regrets, nothing I would've changed. Okay, I lied. I would totally have gotten Momolla something made of shells, or maybe a hanging thing with lots of dangly shells. Except, of course, that Jim wouldn't let me, as we've been informed that such a gift would actually be considered an act of war, and met with extreme retaliation. At any rate, it was a fantastic trip, but it's good to be home now, where there's an internet connection. Oh, and my family and friends. Them, too.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Mmmmmmmm...

That's the sound I seemed to be making a lot this past week, as I was on vacation with my beloved Jim. If I haven't mentioned, we went to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. That's a good ten hour drive if you start out early, but we left at about eleven on Friday night, so we ended up not getting down there until one the next day. Hey, we had to sleep at re-fuel and such, you know?

Day one was dominated by the drive. I tell you, I have almost never spent so long in a car. Jim and I switched off for driving, and it was really not a particularly exciting drive. The directions are simple, one takes I-295 to I-95 and one drives. And drives. And when one thinks surely one should be in Mexico by now, one continues to drive. About six hours after that, one drives a little more. After so many hours on the same road, one finally gives up, and then, that is when one gets onto S.C. route 501. Once again, one drives on the same road for, oh, eternity. This isn't to say that the drive down on 95 is hopeless. No, no, there's entertainment. Take, for instance, the traffic jam around Washington, D.C. at two thirty a.m. Or, (my personal favorite) the signs that are scattered about saying, "speed limit enforced by aircraft." There is, of course, lots of scenery. I have never seen more chunks of ruined tires and cars on a road. Ever. And let's not forget the lovely truck pulled over onto the shoulder, merrily alight. Thank goodness the man driving it got out before it caught. But even so, you know he's not having a good day.

And I leave you with that. It's late, I'm tired, and it is time for me to get some (more) rest. I will tell you the rest of my wonderful stories tomorrow, when there's been time to unpack and relax and settle in.