Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sharing the Season...

...because it's been a cold, miserable rotten day, filled with cold, miserable rotten people. So, instead of whining about that, I thought I'd show you guys how pretty part of my house looks. I've been decorating a little haphazardly as thoughts and ideas come to me, and as I think of new ways to use my dollar store finds.
You guys have all seen the chandelier, right? The lovely, classy, elegant chandelier? Coll covered it in that awful fake spider-web stuff for Halloween, so I retaliated this Christmas by covering it in garland and some fake light bulbs. We're very mature in this house, and we show it in our elegant, refined decorating scheme. Martha will be bringing the photo crew later to do some shots for the spread she promised me...



This is my endtable, which in and of itself is not particularly exciting. But look, it has a book on it! That is my very own Christmas book! My parents have a book that they write in every year after the holiday to keep track of what treasures were given and who we celebrated with and to capture the feel of that particular year's Christmas. We love to go back and read it, remembering past holidays and special moments. When I officially moved out for real this time, Momolla and Dadumms gave me one. Apparently, Dadumms picked it out, which touches me.

I found this little guy at the dollar store, and he makes me smile. He's so round and happy looking! The perfect Santa. The fake pine garland behind him came from the same place, and I'm really impressed with how well it looks sitting coiled up with my lights. Not bad for a buck!







My banister was just begging for some decorations, so I wrapped it in more of the pine garland and some ball ornaments I purchased at the dollar store (yes, i bought a lot. the fumes in that place, they make me lightheaded. i go in to browse and come out with a dozen shopping bags and no memory. it's probably better that way). And to cap it off, there's a nice big red bow wrapped around it. Guess where that came from? No, go on, guess!

And this lovely exhibit is my desperate attempt to cover what could be called the world's ugliest coffee table. I took the odd scraps of wrapping paper we had lying around and put them down on the mirrored surface (jim's mom trash picked it for us, we're pretty sure it used to belong in a coke house, and we don't mean the soft drink) and taped it. I added my usual tea lights and TA-DA! Instant holiday cheer. Martha will love this idea, but remember, you saw it here first! Oh, I almost forgot to mention the loveliness that is my centerpiece. I took a glass vase and filled it with the rest of the dollar store ornaments, some dollar store pine bits, and some other dollar store garland. Actually, the whole thing probably only cost me five dollars to make. I feel pretty frugal and smart now!


All right, I'm feeling better, and it's definitely getting on towards time for bed. I wanted to mention that these pictures are only possible because I cleaned the front rooms again. The kitchen is still waiting for me, but it'll keep for another day. I realized about a week ago, we've been living in this house for a year next week. Mike has never yet cleaned the bathroom. Or the front rooms. And I think he's taken the trash out once. He's never mown the lawn. Somehow, this offends me. I'm thinking of going on cleaning strike until we can establish a fair way to divide up chores. Any thoughts on how to present my feelings without being evil? I had an evil roommate for a while, I don't want to be her. Anyway, here's hoping your week goes smoothly and your weekend is lovely. Dadumms and I will be shopping Saturday, I'm excited!

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas...

...at least around my house. To be entirely honest, I wasn't quite feeling the whole Christmas Spirit thing until sometime today. Theoretically, I knew it was coming. Logically, I was starting to plan. And yet, I didn't have that special feeling.

I am, by nature I suppose, one of those people that love Christmas. I love the class, the kitsch, the smells and the excuse to buy everyone presents. I love the exquisite agony that is waiting for Christmas morning. I have heard rumors over the years that Christmas is for children, and I think it's a lie. Children aren't the only ones who can feel wonder and joy and anticipation. They're just cuter and less jaded (usually. there are some pretty jaded kids out there) and less affected by all the pressure and the noise and the stress. I have come to believe that Christmas is what you make of it. If you are spending time with those you love, surrounded by warmth and light and laughter, what's not to love and be excited about? If you are listening to the messages around you that if it isn't perfect, it's not worth doing, then you're bound to be stressed. One of my favorite Christmases was the one we all had the flu. We were all exhausted and muddled. But the day was peaceful and joyful in its own way. Sure, there was some puke. But I think it says something about your family when you can remember the less-than-perfect holidays fondly.

I don't mind the bustle of the mall, I don't mind the pressure to find the perfect gift. I am painfully broke, so I just ignore that. Most of the people I know are a little strapped for cash, and we're all on the same page about buying or making something small to let one another know we're all being thought of and cared for. I have knitted/am knitting scarves for my Jersey girls, who I'm hoping to get together with for the first week of January. I guess, when you don't have a lot of cash to spend, it's easier to tune out the messages about perfection and how you have to buy the it gift for everyone or they'll hate you for ruining their holiday. Truth be told, I wouldn't buy the it gift if I had money. Colleen and I went to the dollar store today and came away with some great finds. Who says you need to spend a fortune on tree trimmings and such? We bought toys for our landlady's holiday party, which they have to raise toys and funds for Toys for Tots. How can you say no to that? Everybody deserves a surprise, something special, at this time of year. I just took a little of the money that I'd meant to use for Christmas supplies and re-directed it. I will get by with fewer ornaments on my tree, especially if I know that I made a difference for somebody out there.

And call me naive, but I love that this is the season of light. Sure, people are greedy, selfish, angry buggers. But for a month or two out of every year, most of us can suspend that and believe that magic really can happen and that there really is room for kindness and miracles in our hearts. More than any other time of year (unless you're a knitter; the generosity of knitters knows no bounds and no time constraints, i have found), people are willing to open their hearts and their homes and to try to love and understand one another. That, dear friends, is magic. And there is hope, for peace and for safety and for all the good things that seem so far away the rest of the year. How can you argue with that?

And besides all the mushy stuff, there are Christmas lights, and giant inflatable things and reindeer that light up and move and trees that blink furiously through the night. And there are cookies. Who doesn't love a holiday with cookies? Personally, I'd get behind National Word Problem Day if there were cookies involved. Especially Momolla's cookies. And there are all the wonderful traditions we have. I almost prefer Christmas Eve to Christmas, because we get to trim the tree. Something about putting the lights and the tinsel and the ornaments up is magical and precious to me. When we were small, we were told that Santa decorates the tree every year. Just a little more magic for the season.

So, sorry to dump on you all. I think I've been feeling the need to defend the holiday to myself a little. There are a lot of folks I've met through work, both customers and co-workers, who think I'm not quite all there because I love this time of year. I maintain, Christmas is not just for children. It's for anyone who can still open their heart and feel the wonder and the joy and the and the magic and the possibility.

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play.
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had roll'd along th' unbroken song
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair, I bow'd my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song,
Of Peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With Peace on earth, good will to men."



That's what I wish you all this month, this Christmas, this year. Whatever you celebrate, wherever you go, whoever you are with. Peace on earth, good will to men. And the wild, sweet music and freedom to feel wonder and joy and hope.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving Thanks

Because by the time I get done work tomorrow, I won't be thankful for much of anything. And so, here it goes.

I am thankful for big, puffy clouds in a bright blue sky. I am thankful that I can pay rent. I am also thankful that I get to have dinner with my family on Thursday. I am thankful for the strong, beautiful women I am surrounded by, and for the strong, handsome men. I will forever be thankful for chocolate, and for hot tea with lots of sugar. I am thankful to be whole, and to be safe and loved.

I am thankful for my mother, who taught me to be strong and who shows me how to be compassionate and wise and to have fun. I am thankful for my father, who shows me that I have a sense of humor, and that you never have to actually grow up. And who lets me borrow his tools. I am thankful for my sisters, who teach me that I have some pretty killer DNA, and that there is always hope for us, and that we are never alone. I am thankful for my sisters of the heart, who love me completely without reservation, and who teach me about faith and love and art and joy. I am thankful for my man, who teaches me about being loyal and true and who takes such wonderful care of me, whether I like it or not. I am thankful for the internet, which has given me such a wide-spread group of friends. I am also thankful for those internet friends, who give me such a different perspective, who have taught me about generosity, and who share their lives with me so freely and graciously.

I am thankful for yarn, and that I have the time and ability to turn said yarn into something useful and (sometimes) attractive. I am thankful that I have all my limbs and that they are all in working order. I am thankful I live in a place where I have the freedom to go where I choose and to do as I please. I am thankful I have never known true hunger, true hate, and true loss. Mine is a charmed life, and I am grateful each day that it is so. I am grateful for the trees and for the sunlight and for the play of light off the water. I am thankful for the days when my alarm clock doesn't go off, because I hate that little bugger. I am thankful for each morning that I wake up next to the man I love, and each night I can fall asleep next to him. Even when he sneezes on my back at three am and I think I might have to kill him. I am thankful to live in a house full of people who like me, and who are willing to live with me without killing me or locking me in a closet every time I drive them nuts.

I probably bitch about my life much more than is really necessary. It's always easier to dwell on the negatives than to highlight the positives. But really, mine is a pretty good life, full of wonderful people, beautiful scenery, and plenty of yarn.

I hope, whether you celebrate or not, that this Thanksgiving is full of warmth and love and really awesome food. You will all be in my thoughts and my prayers, such as they are.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Baby, it's Cold Outside...

...and I am more glad than ever of my fiber-lovin ways. I find it very comforting on some subconscious level to be making warm, fuzzy things when the temperatures drop. I don't know quite what to make of the weather we've been having; it was almost 70 degrees (21 C) on Saturday and today it's only 39 (3.8 C)! I've taken to keeping an extra jacket in my car in case I'm out somewhere and the weather has another absolutely crazed turn. There's already forecasts for flurries and for snow showers for later in the week, which reminds me, apparently we can get some vicious ice storms up here. I think I'll stock up on some basics like bottled water and such, in case we're without power. The odds are that we'll be fine, but since we had so many issues with keeping our power over the summer through the thunderstorms, I'd rather not risk it.

Jim and I had Saturday off together, and it was a wonderful day. We used to have Tuesdays off as our day to spend time together and relax, but our schedules are both too different for that now. I miss the ability to go out and have adventures and just explore together, and I made sure I wasn't working on Saturday. We woke up late, had a great breakfast, and headed down to Jersey to take a drive through the woods.

A huge tract of the pine barrens (about 1800 acres at the final estimate) burned a few weeks ago, and we wanted to explore and to see the damage. My family has been camping and driving and exploring in the pine barrens (so named because the soil is sandy and loose and good for pines, but not too many other types of trees) for as long as I can remember, and the section that was burned was our stomping grounds. We didn't see too much fire damage on the trail we took, and what we did see seemed pretty close to the ground. I was a little confused at first, looking around. The undersides of the higher branches were singed, but the tops were fine. It took a little while for me to realize that the tough groundcover must have been burning, but not the whole length of the trees. There was only one portion where a large group of trees were charred, and even then, there were fresh bunches of pine needles sprouting. It was encouraging to be reminded that even such a huge blaze can be healthy for a forest, and that nature comes back pretty quickly when it wants to.

Thanksgiving is only a week away, and I am excited to be going home for it. I love being out on my own, and having a home here in PA, but there's something so soothing about going back home to Jersey for holidays. Spending time with family and friends I don't normally see is all the more exciting and special. And, Momolla cooks! What more can a girl ask for from a holiday? I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the week, and that things to well and smoothly for you all.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

FONANZA!

It's been longer than I really care to contemplate since I've written for the blog. However, I make good on my promises, so here is a picture, which might just let you know why it is I've been holding out on you all.

Ta-DA! Three finished objects and one in progress. The astute among you will notice that only one of these was on my list of ufos. However, the weather here has been a touch psychotic, bouncing between seventy and thirty degrees. And in these uncertain times, my knitterly soul reacts instinctively. I feel a compulsion to make warm, soft garments that can be worn by my loved ones. I almost can't help it, the need to make warm snuggly things is there. I think of it as being a response similar to the geese flying off or squirrels building stashes of nuts and local folks' flower bulbs. I'm preparing for the real cold.



In other news, Jim had a birthday. A big part of the third week of October was spent in cleaning and shopping and various other company-having related activities. We had the great good luck to go the the PA Renaissance Faire in the pouring rain that Saturday (the next day was cool and sunny and gorgeous. of course.) and have an adventure. The whole experience was pretty interesting, and I think perhaps I'd like to go back when giant umbrellas weren't falling over and we weren't completely soaked. Oh, yes. Through all of the massive amounts of shopping, I forgot birthday candles. We, um, improvised. Instead of twenty three plus one tiny candles, there are two, three, and one candles on the cake. I don't think this will earn me the title of domestic godesshood any time soon, but it worked.

Okay, time for some detail shots of my lovely pile of warm. The first scarf, here modelled by my lovely roommate Colleen, is intended for Mr. Jim's Dad come Christmas time. Mr. Jim's Dad, much like Jim, ,works in a shop and is frequently cold come winter. I chose a lovely autumnal palette of colors that will conveniently blend with rust, grease, oil, dirt, and anti-sieze. Also, being acrylic, it's washable. I feel as though I cheated here, I got back to my roots and crocheted this one. It went so quickly, and the fabric is so thick and cushiony. I just couldn't help myself. Really.











A one-row scarf knitted up in some of my first-ever stash-enhancement yarn, this is intended for one of my Jersey Girls. I'm still not sure who the color will suit best, but I'm sure it'll speak to me before Christmas sometime. Honestly, I haven't measured it. Originally, it came down to just past my knees when I draped it without wrapping. Once I washed it, it stretched to my ankles. Mohair blends get tall when you put them in water. Must remember that for the next scarf. (no, really! i learn. honest!)











And last, but never the least, the original random one-row scarf. I finished it off, and decided it needed some fringe. This lovely little bit of color will be gracing Mrs. Jim's Mom's neck come Christmastime. I wish I had a better detail shot of all of these for you guys, but frankly, my camera sucks lots when it comes to close-ups. The colors in this picture aren't as true, the camera seems to have picked up a lot of the blue and the green, but the expression on the lovely model's face is entirely priceless. I think she's either about to sneeze here, or making fun of Jim. These pictures are all taken in my kitchen, and cropped so that the dirty dishes aren't showing. Ah, the magic of photo-editing. So far as the Bureau for Adults Behaving Like Adults knows, there are no dirty dishes. Kate, if you rat me out, I will turn them on you next!







On a much sadder, and not at all related note, one of my favorite grade school teachers died this past week. It may seem a little melodramatic for me to mention it, but honestly, I'm not even ten years removed from eighth grade yet; and growing up in a small town makes it impossible not to keep up with these things. Mr. Stubbins taught me, my older sister, my younger sister, and a part of me hoped he'd teach my own children one day. History and social studies were always interesting and fun, and always my favorite class of the day. Mr. Stubbins was the teacher that most unfailingly encouraged me to write. He had faith in me, and in all his students, and there is a sad, cold hole in the community now. My condolences go out to his family, friends, and the Somerdale school district. Mr. Stubbins, you will be missed.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Green Thumb...

...I like houseplants. They're green and pretty, and if you talk nice to them, sometimes they flower for you. They make oxygen, and they take up space much more attractively than, say, empty soda cans. There's a ledge in my kitchen that's filling up with plants. It gets more sun than the rest of the kitchen, since it's beneath a big bank of windows, and it's convenient to keep my couple of cooking herbs there.

Jim seems a little confused by my knack for keeping green things alive, and he keeps buying me more plants to keep around because he knows how much I like them. Most notably, he brought home a hanging spider plant which dangles faithfully in my biggest window. It was a clearance plant at the local hardware store and started out a little sickly, but once we put it in the window, it took off. And by took off, I mean it started producing a ton of little shoots with baby plants on them. I trimmed off the paler, less viable looking ones every now and then, and mostly just left the spider plant alone but to water it. About a week ago, I noticed that my friend the plant seems to be trying to take over the house. I pulled the plant down to rotate which side got the most direct sun, and the thing was full of shoots. I trimmed all of them off and kept the biggest, healthiest looking plants to try to pot. Even though I only kept the best of the lot, I had ten tiny plants. I must've tossed two or three times that number. I rummaged around in the kitchen, trying to find anything that i could viably put plants in. I scavenged the soil from some seeds I'd been trying to grow that I thought had failed, I filled in two small fishbowls, one vase, and a couple of various tiny pots and square plastic planters.

So far, all of them are thriving, so near as I can tell. And as a weird bonus, this seems to have somehow encouraged my seeds to sprout, since a couple of the plants have tiny green roommates with them now. I hadn't held out much hope, the seeds were about four years old and had been inconsistently stored at best. I wasn't really surprised when they didn't sprout after they'd been planted. So when I gave up and cannibalized their soil for my new plants (i also got some soil from my yard, since i don't normally stock potting soil. probably a houseplant faux pas, but the plants seem to like it) I was a little startled to see these tiny green shoots in there with them. I figure I'll let them get a little bigger, and then I'll do another toss of the kitchen to see what i can possibly put them in. I'm running out of options, I might have to break down and head to the hardware store. In the meantime, my spider plant hasn't started to put out shoots again yet, but I'm just waiting. If that happens, I may just have to start giving plants away to everyone I meet.

That's all for today, time to go grab a shower and clean a little before work. Next time (probably friday, but don't quote me on that), a finished object! The first off my needles in months! Pictures with it, I swear! Exclamation points are fun!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sharing...

...because this little bit of poetry has been stuck in my head for days now, and I am enchanted with the theme
The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre of pyre—

To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire

Consumed by either fire or fire.

---T.S. Eliot


Hopefully, having read it aloud to myself several times now, it'll be out of my system. Of course, that means that Shakespeare's Sonnet 27 will probably promptly take up residence. This, dear friends, is the danger of taking too many English courses in school.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sorry for the Lazy Blogging...

...I had some minor stomach issues on top of a cold on top of some lovely cramps. Anything I'd written Sunday or Monday would've involved more obscenities and rage than even I am comfortable with. Even I don't feel the need to share everything.

And if my post previous to that was a little emo, I apologize. One of my 101 things to do is to make peace with myself. It sounds lofty, but really, I spent a long time hating who I was and what I was doing. I am trying very hard to get to a point where, though I may not be my own biggest fan, I am at least comfortable with who I am and where I am. It sounds so pretentious for someone my age to talk about wisdom and finding self-acceptance. What, in the grand scheme of things, do I really know? But I haven't had an easy life, and nothing I've ever had has been handed to me. Even self-acceptance is something I've had to work for, a goal I've had to achieve on my own. I have had a wonderful support system, but the work has been my own. And so, if I sound overly emotional, or cliched, or even pretentious or arrogant, my apologies. This blog is more about my life and my experiences than any one other thing (so much for knitting, eh?), and I try not to censor or edit my thoughts too much. If there is one thing I am not, it is fake. This is me, love me or leave me.

And that's enough of the melodramatic self-examination. On to more interesting topics! The random one-row scarf nears it's completion. I'm just knitting until I run out of yarn, or get close to it. I'm debating some tassels for it, but I think it might look better plain. I spent two miserable days sitting on my couch drinking insane amounts of fruit juice and knitting, so I got a good couple of feet done. I am working the toe decreases of my (first) TDF (tour de failure) sock, and trying to remember to buy a scale to make sure I'll have enough yarn so I don't spontaneously combust on my couch. Everything else is still in stasis, but progress is slow and steady. Right now, that's just about all I can manage.

I am reading, though. When work gets too distressing, I find a little escapism is in order. Knitting is a productive, interesting hobby, and I enjoy it quite a bit. But reading, oh that's my passion. I go through books the way some people go through, well something they go through really quickly. My favorite room in the house is the library, because I can always find something to read. And right now, escapism is a good thing. My company is switching our service writers (that's me) to commissioned pay rather flat hourly rates. They tell us it's going to work out better for us all in the long run, but I am not stupid, and I have been around the whole corporate block a few times. My company is failing, and at this point, they are not trying to put more money in my pocket. I'm trying to keep an open mind, but at this point, I have a gut feeling that the company is doing this to weed out the people who aren't performing well. And if it does turn out we make more this way, it won't las much longer than it takes to get rid of the lower-performing employees. Ah, well. Just one more issue at work. And I have yet to hear from my employment agency in regards to a better placement. I think it's time to move on and try another department or another company.

And that, my friends, is about all I have for you today. I'm going to drive to the grocery store and buy a pre-cooked meal. Don't tell the Bureau of Adults Behaving Like Adults. I'm already on their watch list for spending the last two days in pajamas!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Lazy Blogging

Your result for Reincarnation Placement Exam...

Starfleet Crewperson

49% Intrigue, 68% Civilization, 59% Humanity, 52% Urbanization.


As Mister Spock would say: Fascinating. It seems you've managed to hit the edge of the curve on all metrics. An extraordinary life is almost certain.



According to your answers, you want it all, you want a lot of it, and you're willing to do what it takes to get it! Adventure! Romance! Technology! Challenge! You love civilization. You like people. You love the complications and joys of a big, weird crowd of humans plus lots of other beings wandering into dangerous and complicated corners of the galaxy.



There is an ideal place for you, and you are ideal for it: Welcome to the crew of the starship Enterprise. Captain Kirk would have welcomed you aboard himself, but his head was too big to fit in the landing bay.

Take Reincarnation Placement Exam at HelloQuizzy

Monday, September 15, 2008

Learning to Let go and Live

You know that person in high school who knew what they wanted and where they were going and had a Life Plan? The kind of obsessive person who didn't miss school because their attendance records might be considered when they applied to colleges? The one who participated in EVERYthing in the hopes of looking as well-rounded and accomplished as possible? The relentless one who never wondered, never questioned where they were going with their life, because they just knew? Remember that person? Me, too. That was me. And you know, I lived a charmed life. I truly believed that if you worked hard, you would be showered with financial aid and a school would try hard to educate you. I knew where I was going and what I wanted to do with my life. There wasn't any room for compromise, I had a tight schedule to keep if I wanted to graduate law school with suitable honors, plan the wedding, and pop some children out while keeping my fabulous career on track. In my defense, I worked my little butt off to make my life into what I wanted it to be. And for a while, it worked out.

Now, you've all been reading this blog for a while. You all know that that is now how my life has turned out thus far. For a lot of reasons, which stem from one main cause. I failed. I found my limits, and I couldn't move past them. I spent my freshman year of college working forty hours a week, doing my assignments, and trying to participate in my new sorority. And I actually made it through freshman year that way. I think I got four hours of sleep on a good night, and I learned the hard way that your body shuts itself off after about sixty hours without sleep, whether you want it to or not. Sophomore year, I moved into an off-campus house with my roommate from freshman year, completely ignoring the (logical, reasonable, rational) objections my family and friends made. For six or seven months, Reading, PA was my home. My financial situation was abysmal. My social life was nonexistant. I was still working forty hours a week, but I was taking more difficult classes. My roommate stopped being friendly and started being a little crazy and my living situation got terrible. Tense, angry, and miserable. I stopped going to class, I stopped doing my work, I stopped going to work when I could manage it. I shut down and started spending a lot of time in my room, because I was too afraid to come out. My professors, I think, noticed that something was not right. They gave me opportunities to make up work I had missed. I thanked them, and didn't. My life got worse and worse and narrower and narrower, and then the killing blow came--there was no way I could finish the year out at school. I needed an extra ten thousand dollars to cover my tuition before I could register for classes.

And so, armed with the knowledge that I needed what was (at the time) a year's wages in the matter of a few weeks, with terrible credit, no references, and no time, I cried, I begged, I pleaded, and I wrote some letters and essays. And in the end, I didn't get ten thousand dollars. What I got was one failure, two incompletes, a B and a C. What I got was a shaky, sobbing phone call to my parents, begging to come home because the idea of having to see or deal with my roommate filled me with such anxiety I was afraid to leave the room to use the bathroom in case she saw me and we argued some more. When I tried to send my landlady a check and a letter (she made me pay three months of utility bills at once, the week my rent was due, because she hadn't bothered to let me know what i'd owed her before and she happened to be my roommate's mom) explaining the many reasons I wanted to be released from my lease early, I got sucked into a rousing game of phone tag where I was told the landlady's local post office had collapsed and she had no idea what was going on, though I had sent the letter through a priority-certified service. And so, I did the irresponsible thing in the eyes of real estate law, and the only thing I could do and I ran home. Everything except my basics went into storage and stayed there. My dresser, my bed, and my clothes came to live at my parents' place with me.

I eventually got my old job at my old store back, but I was still miserable. I had failed. My life was ruined. I was worthless and stupid and probably a terrible person, to boot. I had spent my life leading up to this working for nothing. To say I hated myself would be wrong, at the time I was more interested in blaming circumstances for things I should have handled or been aware of. I hated the school, the landlady, the roommate, and most of the whole world. Not me, though. I had something better for me--contempt. I was so worthless, I probably wasn't worth hating. So I pushed my family away, I tried to push Jim away (he's a little persistent), and I was just broken for a while. I cried a lot for no reason, I had crazy bad mood swings, and I was just generally pretty rotten. But slowly, over time, I healed. Never really completely, I think, because I was still divided. Jim had moved to Reading with me, and when we moved back to New Jersey, moved back in with his parents. We were separated and it was terrible. I was trying to put myself back together, and my heart was forever torn in two. I started sleeping at Jim's place more and more often, alienating my parents even further, until having my bed in their house was a formality. And I was still torn. My parents told me I wasn't home enough. Jim told me I didn't see him enough. I muddled through a bad (though better than the previous by far) situation as best I could and I started this blog.

You've followed me through the trials and tribulations of the search for a house, and the search for moving, we don't need to discuss those again. Fast forward to the present, to a little house in Royersford, that I share with Jim and Mike and Colleen. Not perfect, but good. Not where I wanted, planned, or really meant to be, but still safe. And talking to Mom a little while ago, I realized that for the first time in two years or so, I am comfortable with where I am in my life. I am okay with who I am. I am not perfect by a long shot. I still am not where I want to be, but I have set out realistic, achievable goals that (hopefully) won't burn me out. I have a family here with me, rather than being a hundred miles from my support network. For the first time in a long while, I am comfortable. I feel like my life is worth something. Like I am contributing, and like there is somewhere to go from here. I don't look in the mirror and see a failure, or an idiot. I just look in the mirror and see me.

I guess what I'm trying to say, through all this drama, I have learned a thing or two about Life Plans and plans in general. I have learned that I, too, am human. I can fail. I can fall on my ass--and fall hard. But I can eventually pick myself up. I can come back from losses, from anger, from pain. I can come back stronger and more determined. And I can learn to let go of the Life Plans, of the desperate need for perfection, and I can live my life. That life can be messy, and it can still hurt, but it can make me happy, too, and it can be worth some small measure of goodness. I am slowly, a little at a time, making peace with myself. I'm still a little fragile, sometimes, and still defensive. And I'm still not sure how I'm going to make everything work. And, looking at the pieces of me, they don't fit in the picture quite the way they used to. I will never "come back" to who I was. I've lost my innocence and my niavete and a few other things I will never get back. I'm not so optimistic, not so driven. I'm more timid, more shy. I'm less comfortable in new places and situations, because they are so ripe with potential for failure. I'm more indecisive and much less likely to blindly jump into a situation. But, at the end of the day, I'm still me. I've come back around to somebody I recognize, somebody who feels pretty good to me.

I was thinking about all this today, when I was looking in the mirror. I found my first wrinkles today. Wrinkles ("fine lines") were definitely not part of the Life Plan yet. Twenty-two, and already I'm finding them. In a few years, it'll be gray hair, and the dye will be for a different type of vanity. Looking in the mirror will be more aggressive, less passive soon--hunting for signs I'm too old for my years. But it won't be the end of me, or the end of the world, to stop looking like a teenager. And do you know how I could tell I'm doing all right? Those wrinkles? They're laugh lines.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

So Close, no Matter How Far...

...couldn't be much more from the heart. Jim and I had dinner out last night to celebrate our third anniversary. It's hard for me to believe sometimes that it's already been three years, because when I see him, my heart still jumps a little. We've had your typical tough times and your typical good times, and some of both that I like to think are unique to us. And here we are. Still together, still a unit. I think that may be what amazes me most. We are more than just a couple, we're a team. We love each other, but we also respect one another. Like any two people in close proximity, we drive each other crazy. But somehow, we do it in an endearing way... Mostly. Jim is amused by my penchant for freezing or microwaving yarn when I sight suspicious winged insects, and his ability to re-invent the English language (he likes to take an accepted term like "socks" and turn it into something else, like "foot mittens") makes me giggle helplessly while my brain leaks out my ears.

I mention the strong women I'm surrounded by all the time, but maybe I don't give Jim his due. He is a strong man, a good man in a time when there aren't a whole lot of those left. When we first started dating, I didn't think we'd last more than a few months--we have a lot of differences. I thought we'd end up as something light and simple and fun. And somehow, that tricky guy made me fall in love with him. He's the most amazing mixture of practicality and heartbreaking sweetness. He is strong and funny and smart and punctual (even under my influence) and generally amazing. I know without doubt there is nothing he wouldn't do for me, and he knows that devotion is returned. Simply put, we're stronger together than apart. And it doesn't hurt that he's cute, too.

And here I will leave you, before things get too mushy. We're dealing with a tropical storm today, so I hope your weather is better than ours, at least, and that the weekend is peaceful.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Reason I Loathe my Job Number 7,983,635...

...is that I have to go in early on my late day and probably not take a lunch/dinner break today. Chuck The Slimy Bastard (he's everything that's wrong with my industry, all rolled up into one person) never showed up or called today, so I have to go in early. And then I am working a disgusting amount this weekend, culminating in an eleven-hour marathon on Labor Day. You know, the American holiday where we celebrate the laborers of the country. Yup. But anyway, that's enough of that ranting and raving. Still working on finding another gig, and when I do, it will be marvelous!

Thanks for all the cheering and support for the list. I'm feeling pretty optimistic about it, like I can actually take this and accomplish something. Some of my goals are kind of frivolous, and some are pretty serious, but they're all aimed at making me more the person that I want to be and helping me live the life I want to live. More than anything, I want to be at peace with myself. There are some things I feel I need to do before that can happen, and I look forward to doing them and to exploring my reasons for feeling as I do. And the nice thing is that there's no pressure, aside from the knowledge that if I have posted my intent and mentioned these things publicly, I'll look kind of stupid if none of them ever get done.

Not much on the knitting front to report, as I'm still plugging away at all my many WIPs. However, progress is being made and I have not given up hope, nor thrown my commitment to myself away and cast anything on, even something tiny. I am nearly done the first sock of the pair, and am making nice headway on the random one-row scarf. Not much else has been touched, but if I can knock even two projects of of the WIP pile, it'll be a nice step forward. I'm closer to picking out a pattern for the wedding shawl, but I'm still torn over colors. I'm still operating in the dark as to what color the dress will be, apparently that's not being picked out til December, nor are the bridesmaids gowns. I'm thinking I may opt to try to match or complement the bridesmaids gowns rather than try to match white. With my luck, it'll be a shade off, and that would irk me to no end.

At any rate, time to go finish my laundry so I can head into work and save the day. Again. Hope your weekend is restful and fun!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cleaning house in real life...

... I recently discovered a meme called 101 in 1001, which is a pretty simple concept. To quote the day zero website:


The Mission:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past - frequently simple goals such as New Year's resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organising and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.


I found this traipsing through a blog, and am a little fascinated by this project. At first, I wasn't sure that I was interested in this, many of the lists all had a similar feel to them. But then I sat down and wrote my own list, just for kicks and grins. And having written the list and stewed about it for a few days, I see a list of achievable goals and maybe a way to help me quantify and achieve them. I've revised them a bit, but I think most of them are pretty sound. And so, we'll be looking at a new sidebar feature here. I'm posting my list today, but I'm going to keep in on the sidebar as a way to mark my progress. Today is my start date, and Monday, May 23, 2011 will be my end date. All of these things may not be completed by then, but I hope to be able to say that I gave everything on here a decent shot.

You'll notice that there aren't quite 101 things on the list. Some of these goals are private, and I'm not entirely comfortable sharing all of them. I firmly believe in a little mystery in life, and that there is such a thing as too much information, so I'm sparing you the more personal bits. Some folks have organized their lists into groups, and it occurs to me that this may not be a bad idea. So here we go! Without further ado, here is my 101 things in 1001 days challenge to myself:

The Schooling:
1. Go back to school at least part time in fall of 2009
2. bring all my student loans current and pay my accounts down as much as possible

The House:
3. Clean the library, determining what is trash and what should stay
4. Organize the books in the library so that they are displayed and accessible and so that you can actually sit somewhere in the room to read.
5. Paint the library and find a suitable rug and chair/small sofa for the room.
6. Paint the living room and front room
7. Paint the office
8. Determine which plants in the yard should be pulled, pruned, or saved and do so
9. Plant something that flowers and is pretty in the yard
10. Find or buy attractive, comfortable furniture for the yard and the porch
11. Rescue the tree growing next to the house, plant it somewhere safe
12. Clean/organize the basement so that things can be stored and accessed easily.
13. Re-finish the kitchen table and chairs
14. Re-finish all the woodwork the crazy woman painted white
15. Find/buy chairs/sofa/seating for front room
16. Create and maintain a fair chore rotation
17. Buy new mattress, box spring, and bed frame.

The Me, Practically:
18. Create a budget, possibly with Jim's input, to be followed strictly and reviewed and updated every three months
19. For six months, cook at least on real, balanced meal per week (0/24)
20. Find a job that is compatible with my goals and skills and has a normal schedule
21. Write a will
22. Designate power of attorney
23. Write a living will
24. Make peace with myself, my life, my failures, and my successes.
25. Have an educated, well-argued opinion on current events/issues
26. Find/rent/buy software and improve my Spanish to conversational level
27. Find/rent/buy software and learn a little French
28. Read the Sunday Inquirer every week for a year (0/52)
29. Spend at least half an hour twice a week exercising, doing yoga
30. Research fair trade products and, where possible, gradually switch over
31. Purchase more re-usable shopping bags and recycle the plastic ones in the kitchen
32. Buy tires for the Jeep
33. Buy shocks for the Jeep
34. Switch my registration to PA by September 30, 2008
35. Switch my license to PA by September 30, 2008
36. Open a savings account as an emergency fund and build it to at least $500
37. Celebrate Earth Hour each year
38. Blog at least once a week for three months straight (0/12)
39. Write one entry in my journal a week for six months straight (0/24)
40. Meditate on my beliefs and design a system of worship/praise
41. Initiate myself into my faith
42. Practice my beliefs actively
43. Donate blood

The Me, Whimsically:
44. Learn to ride a bike
45. Using money I've budgeted, buy myself some great new clothes to wear when I'm not at work
46. Play my flute at least once a month for six months (0/6)
47. Buy/send myself flowers at least three times (0/3)
48. Plan and spend a day at a spa, being pampered
49. Read six fiction classics I've never read (o/6)
50. Read five non-fiction books (0/5)
51. Stock the bar and learn to make fun cocktails with coll
52. Spend at least half an hour outside once per week for twelve months (0/48)
53. Plan one birthday party for myself
54. Try a vegetarian diet for a week
55. Bake something entirely from scratch
56. Buy at least two cookbooks, one of them to be written by Nigella (0/2)
57. Take myself on a date to dinner or a movie, and enjoy the time out alone
58. Develop the cameras/film I have sitting around
59. Put the pictures in the office into albums
60. Share any good pictures with those interested
61. Buy an MP3 player

Friends & Family
62. Plan a black-tie themed tea party for my girl friends
63. Take Jim to a fancy restaurant to celebrate us
64. Travel to a different country with Jim
65. Go to a makeup counter with Coll and get makeovers
66. E-mail Ashley at least once per month every month for a year (0/12)
67. Call a friend once a week to talk, every week for a year (0/52)
68. Give ten gifts just because (0/10)
69. Plan one surprise birthday party
70. Go camping for a weekend or longer with Jim or other friends
71. Do something competitive (pool, mini golf, bowling) with Jim 5 times (0/5)
72. Have at least six girl dates/girls' nights with friends from home (0/6)
73. Have a sleepover with Amy, Kely, and Melissa
74. Have my family (or at least my parents) over for lunch/dinner 10 times (0/10)
75. Have Plum family over for dinner
76. Plan an awesome week-long vacation for me and Jim
77. Watch fireworks with Jim


Crafty, crafty
78. Find or design a pattern for Melissa's wedding shawl
79. Buy yarn, needles, etc. for shawl
80. Knit shawl in a timely manner
81. Buy needles and knit the sweater that's living in the bag on my floor
82. Buy fabric and make curtains for the bedroom, front rooms, and library
83. Knit a pair of socks in less than a month
84. Knit at least six items for the charity/charities of my choice (0/6)
85. Buy, trade for or find a spinning wheel
86. Learn to spin
87. Learn about plant dyes and try them on yarn/fleece
88. Find a knitting group, join, and attend at least one meeting per month

Personal

89.
90.
91.
92.
93.
94.
95.
96
97
98
99.
100.
101.


And there we have it! Welcome to the launch!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Getting Things in Order...

...because I finally reached my breaking point. I've hardly been online this week, because I've dedicated the vast majority of my time off to my house. I will be honest with you all, I am not by nature a neat person (mom, you may want to sit down. i know this shocks you to the core). But even I have my limits and my pride. And honestly, if anyone had come to visit me in my house, I'd have been ashamed to host them. This, I decided was not the way I want to live my life. I pay good money for rent each month, and I work hard to be able to afford to live here. I have a beautiful house and (mostly) attractive furniture. And yet, my roomies and I have been living in a shithole.

And so, the house (most of it, the third floor was out of the question, it needs the most work. but the work will be done, and soon. i am determined to be able to live in this house comfortably) was cleaned. Scrubbed. Polished. Organizers were bought for the bedroom, cleaning supplies for the whole house. Bags upon bags of trash have gone to the curb. Glass has been cleaned, huge hulking TVs moved. I have spent more hours than I like to think about cleaning, but the house looks good. If you were all to wander over (and you're welcome any time) and surprise (i like surprises!) me with a visit, I would be happy and proud to show you around. And this, this is how I would like to be able to live. So I have made a few changes, and a few resolutions to myself. I aim to spend a few minutes every day cleaning up after myself. I know, basic. But if I just loaded my things into the dishwasher after I'd used them, the kitchen would look a million times better. If the laundry went in the basket, I could walk to my bed. I aim to dust and otherwise maintain the house once a week, so that this level of clean is the norm. The roomies and I are working on a chore rotation so that nobody feels like the maid. I think our biggest problem will be training the boys to see dirt. But we will persevere. Because, ultimately, I'd like to be able to have people come over and be able to relax and take their shoes off (for a few months, i wouldn't walk in the kitchen in bare feet. it's summer, i live in bare feet) and settle into the couch without thinking it smells funky. So, yes. Cleaning will be done and maintained.

In order to do that, I am going through many of the things that have been left in boxes or just piled on the dresser or the floor, and I am paring them down. Things I am truly attached to stay. Things that I have no use for, won't miss, have duplicates of, and have forgotten about can all go. I'm collecting quite a bunch of donations for Good Will. So I'm trying to simplify the things I have and the way that I live, a little at a time. I know that if I go through and totally change everything, it won't stick. And I know there will be days that I decide I don't feel like cleaning when I get home, and I slip. But I know that each day is a chance to prove to myself that I can be the person that I choose to be, and live the life I choose to live. I can do this on my terms, and I can succeed or fail by my own will.

And due to this cleaning frenzy, there is not a lot of other news to report. I am still working away at my wips, trying to thin the herd a bit. I don't think I'll ever be into project monogamy, it's just not my style. But I do like to keep the number of things I'm working on down to a few small things or a small thing and a big (relatively. big for me) thing. Variety is good, but I have issues with seeing things through, so it's also good for me to stick with something until it's done.

And that's the news from the World of Em. May your weekend be peaceful and lovely.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Another Ditch in the Road...

...you keep movin'*. Still not much to report on, except that I've started working with an employment agency to find a job. There's a straight-up secretarial gig that looks pretty promising. It sounds like lots of filing, copying, and answering phones. It's a first-shift gig for a little more than I'm making now, though it's a little farther away. It's got set hours, and it sounds divine. Jim asked if I would be bored, being what amounts to a secretary. I gave him an emphatic no. After six or so years of customer service, this will be far from boring. In fact, a nice, stable job with regular hours and obvious goals sounds perfect.

In knitting news, I'm still plugging away at...almost everything I've got on the needles. Something Momolla said in her most recent post made me stop and take stock of what I've got going on with my projects. There are a few more than I'd thought. I have the TDF socks, the bribe sock, the sock that shall not be named, the boss baby blanket (yup, that one is still not done), and the one-row scarf all in progress. That's a lot of relatively small things that need to get finished. So, I have a plan. It is this: I will finish my TDF socks first, since I'm probably the farthest from being done those, then finish the bribe sock. After that, it'll be all bbb, all the time. Once those are all settled, the socks from hell and i will have a discussion and see if perhaps we can work something out. And while all that is going on, I will be using the one-row scarf to fill in any gaps (you know how it is, sometimes you just need a bit of a break from whatever you're working on.). Once everything (except maybe the socks that shall not be named) is handled, I will be free to start something more exciting. Or at least, something different. It'll feel good to finish up a passel of knitted things, and maybe once I have a real, regular schedule I can knit on, say, the weekends, and squeeze more time in.

In other other news, I'm aiming to be that smug person who has everything for the holiday season under control (you know, the one who has a schedule and follows it and is done the shopping and the wrapping and the decorating and the baking early and just sits back and enjoys watching other people {dadumms} struggle with the last minute stuff. i hate those smug people) this year. To achieve that aim, I've already started my Christmas shopping. I'm buying the small, less specialized bits and pieces now, so that when December rolls around, I'm not stuck looking at my bank account balance thinking "well, if I compromise and get everyone something for ten dollars, I'll be just over budget." I'm also building up my Christmas list of the larger, more fun things that aren't likely to be purchased by the recipients in the next four months. I figure in November, I'll start collecting recipes and decorations, so that come December, we can buy a tree and some holly and have the house look all festive. My goal is to have a happy, relaxed holiday, without all the crazy hassle and insane lack of money of years past. And it just might work. If I don't go shooting my mouth off and alert the domestic gods that this is my plan. It has to look incidental, or life will boot me in the ass. So yeah, that's the brilliant plan. I've already figured where we'll put the tree (it has to be huge) and Coll and I have some ideas for decorations already.

The boys? They think it's too early to think about Christmas. I, on the other hand, can already smell autumn in the air some mornings, and see the summer winding down. That makes me a little sad, but the span of time from October through to January is my favorite part of the year, so I'm not all that heartbroken. So I'm anticipating things a little this year. I'm not sure how the holidays will work in terms of spending time with my family here and spending time with my family in Jersey. But I think it will work itself out somehow. That part, I'm not worried about.

Anyway, off to work to go daydream about putting my notice in and leaving. Hope your weekend is wonderful!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Tour de Failure...

...which is the only clever name I could think of for this post. I know, it's a little punny. But it works better than "uhhhh..." which was my other option (feel free to make fun of me, just do it when you're pretty sure i'm not listening, eh?). What can I say, I feel a little brain dead.

It's been damn near a month since I last posted, and I have met precisely none of my stated goals. I have finished less than one sock (i turned the heel and ran out of steam.), and posted... Well, we won't discuss the lack of posting. But I have a reason, friends. The reason is work. I know, I know, that is my eternal reason for everything that is wrong in the world.

But it's not just my stupid job, it's my search for a job that is less stupid. I have been sending our resumes, filling out applications, and bribing voodoo priestesses to try and find a better gig. There seems to be a lack of jobs about, though. At least, there is a lack of jobs that fit my criteria, since I'm not really willing to take a huge pay cut (or even a wee one, really. i like to pay rent, it's much better than living in my car), work the swing shift, or deal drugs. However, there is hope. A local car dealership really, really reallllllllly wants me to work for them. The hours are better, with Sundays off each week, it's even closer to home (who thought someone who drives eleven miles each way would ever be able to say that?) I would finally have a dress code instead of a uniform (i could wear a different colored shirt every single day, and nobody would care! i could wear a skirt! i feel faint, better not even contemplate shoes...), and it would be much easier to fit classes into my schedule around work (the other big perk is that i don't feel so dumb imagining putting my two weeks notice in. actually, i savor every delicious, imaginary moment). The only problem is, the manager at this dealership really wants me to sell cars. The thought of selling cars has never even crossed my mind. I'm not entirely sure I'd be good at it. And yet, the thought's a little intriguing. I may actually be good at it. And if I'm not, I can become a salaried employee, rather than working on commission. If I really, truly, completely fail, there is another job available that they want to put me in, but it's mostly driving parts around and selling parts occasionally. I really feel a little overqualified for it, but the idea of a safety net is nice. So, what do you guys think? Could I sell big, shiny pretty things for a living? Is it worth the risk? I could make me some nice money if this pays off. Of course, I could end up making about what I am now, but at that point I haven't really lost anything, true? Or I could discover that I truly hate sales and that Pep Boys was my one true purpose in life, and that they won't take me back for love nor money.

Aside from the job hunt, things are relatively peaceful. The NFL Hall of Fame Game was on tonight, which marks the beginning of the pre-season (i think, maybe), which causes spasms of delight in Jim. Football soon (the american kind, jim hasn't got the attention span for any other type)! Know what that means? So much more knitting time (gotta do something while i pretend to watch the game.) . I mean, bonding time. Yes, lots of time for me and Jim to sit together and bond in front of America's favorite vice.

In other news, Dadumms flies this Saturday. Jim and I both took the day off to drive down and watch him, because it's going to be SO. COOL. to watch Dadumms do something he's always dreamed of. Kate and El have plans, so they can't make it, but I wanted to make sure there was somebody there to cheer Dadumms on. And to take tons of pictures. I'll see if I can get a couple of shots for you guys. If not, maybe I'll convince Jim to take me to see the fuzzies (alpackys, in aussie) and get a couple of shots for you guys. At any rate, it should be a good time. Jim and I are driving down to Atlantic City, New Jersey, the night before and staying at a casino hotel down there, which will make our ride quite a bit shorter come morning. Mr. Jim's Dad gets perks at one of the casinos, so the room should be free or ridiculously cheap. We figure we'll have dinner, play the slots, and relax after work, then head out early in the morning to get to the airport in time.

And that's all the news I have for you all at the moment. I'll keep you apprised of the job situation as I'm able. Thanks for you patience with the complete lack of posting, once things are more stable and I'm less wound-up, we should return to business as usual. That's right, three or maybe even FOUR posts per month!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Moving Along

Things here at chez Hendryburnswood (our last names make a neat little sentence, don't they?) are progressing nicely. I have put my money where my mouth is, as the saying goes, and am looking for another job. I am tired, absolutely tired, of being taken advantage of again and again. And so, I'm leaving. Just as soon as I find a job that doesn't pay me by commission, expect me to travel the great state of Pennsylvania selling insurance/bank accounts/beauty products door-to-door, or require more hours and less pay than my current job. I have time, I have skills. I can be picky, right? I'll keep you all posted, and any stray good-employment-opportunity vibes you want to send my way would be appreciated.

In other news, the sock. I adore this pattern. It's so easy. Have I mentioned how easy it is? Cause it's pretty simple. And yet, I only have the cuff done. I'm about to start the heel (i trimmed off a pattern repeat or two, just to make sure i don't run out of yarn two inches away from the toe of my second sock. i honestly believe that that would kill me. and everything around me.) and hopefully that goes as easily as the rest. I feel slightly bad for taking out almost an inch of sock, but I'd rather have slightly shorter socks that are complete than one long sock and one leg warmer with a foot and no toes. One of these days, I'm going to have to break down and just buy a small digital scale. I think it'll help cut back on the guesswork by a ton. And think of all the fascinating new neuroses I can amuse my roommates with! Yarn in the freezer? That ain't nothin'.

Visiting Aunt Joan was...good. Better than I'd expected, as I'd prepared myself for the worst, and we weren't--quite--there yet. My aunt looks better than I'd expected, in terms of color and her lips being purple rather than blue, but that was the first time in all my many years that I've seen her without her hair done. She's still got spirit, though. She insisted on showing the socks Momolla made her off. She loves them so much, I think I'll have to make her a pair or two, as well. I'd give her the ones I'm making now, but they're not machine-friendly, and she'd need something a little lower-maintenance.

Short post today, gotta go clean my house a bit and move all the furniture away from our windows. The landlady is springing for new glass and screens and pulleys, so we can open our (original to the hundred-year-old house) windows and let some air in. The nice window man is coming on Monday, so I'd like to have things in order by tomorrow night. It won't happen, but it sure is nice to dream. I hope the rest of your weekend is smooth and sweet and gently productive.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Shameless Yarn Pornography

...to distract you all from the length of time it's been since I posted last. There have been unreasonable amounts of work, and I have been ridiculously exhausted after them, so the Internet has been mostly a fond memory for me. However, I am marshalling my forces, and posting pictures of yarn in the sun (there is no sun here today, they were meant for a post last week. my neighbors think i'm pants-off nuts, taking pictures of yarn on my front steps. in broad daylight. and this used to be such a nice neighborhood.), and WIPs in the gloom (thunderstorms and rain for the forseeable future. seriously, like the next eight days. and this weather started last week. i love pennsylvania.)

These luscious darlings were my sock yarn options for my Tour de France Knitalong project. Decisions, decisions. I love them all. There are a couple of skeins of Trekking in there (far left and far right), plus some Claudia handpainted (the electric blue and black third from left), as well as some lovely Knittery yarn (second from left. i am almost afraid to knit with it, it's so soft and gorgeous. but i am not at all afraid to pet it. a lot.) and some plain blue in a wool/cotton blend (right smack in the middle) as well as some Heirloom Australian yarn (behind its exuberant blue cousins) In the end, Jim was the tiebreaker for me, and he chose the perfect yarn. I am making lacy mock cable socks made from Happy Spider yarn in Forecast. You can see it there, smushed in between all the blue, fourth bundle from left. The colors are amazing. It's variegated, not striping, and I just love looking for what will come next.

This is a dead easy sock pattern. After one repeat, I had it memorized. And it flies by! It probably means I'm simple, but I love watching the little mock cables take shape. And it's so easy, I'm not scared to take it to work and knit when I have down time. That should help with the whole speed thing, eh? These were cast on Saturday night, in accordance with the rules, and I already have a good two inches done. I know, not a lot, but for me, slowest of the slow knitters, that is a ton! We won't discuss how long the bribe socks have been on the needles.



And look! It even fits over a foot! We are not taking chances with this sock, oh no. We have ten days to finish it, and so there can be no frogging.

I have determined that after a spinning wheel and an mp3 player that isn't dead, I am going to have to buy a new camera. That's because mine just doesn't do closeups. And what fun is posting knitting pictures if you can hardly see the stitch pattern. What? No, it's not my lack of photography skills. It's totally the camera. Yes. Definitely. Very much the fault of the equipment. Trust me on this one. What? You beg to differ? Well, what's that over there?







More yarn? Yes? Look at the pretty yarn. I have no idea what this is. Momolla sent it up here with me for a bribe for Colleen, thinking she would enjoy the bright colors, but I stole it from her. Coll got some gorgeous alpaca as a bribe, though, so don't feel too terrible for her (i learned that trick from mom. bribe with gorgeous, soft yarn and a person can't help but knit.) . She's making a one-row scarf out of it, and her work looks really good, especially since her first efforts at knitting had inexplicable holes. The crispness of this picture is lousy, too, but you can really see the colors. They're bright, practically jewel-toned, and just a joy to knit with. At this point, mindless knitting is my friend, which is why I am making another one row scarf. Of course, I'm paying attention to tension on this one, so it's mostly the same width (no design features on this one. honest.). See? I can learn. The hard way. The scarf is on the back burner for the time being, since I'm determined to get these socks done in time. I'm not sure what will become of either project once it's finished, I think they might both end up as gifts. The Happy Spider yarn was a gift, and it seems oddly right to pass on the Australian Fiber Fairy love.

This is not so much a picture of the yarn, as a picture of where I knit. Yup. I sit on my little butt in my big, cozy bed and knit. If I'm feeling whacky, I listen to a recorded book while I knit. I'm still very slowly working my way through all nine million hours of the Mists of Avalon. Worth every minute, too. What a great re-telling of the Arthurian legend. If you haven't read it or listened to it, give it a shot. Davina Porter reads the version I'm listening to, and I tell you, she's magic. The words just seem to have more power and imagery when she speaks them. And all the awesome names just roll right off her tongue.


This is George. George is the alpaca who lives with me, and is related (distantly. he swears they're no closer than third or fourth cousins at least twice removed) to Kate's fiber-thieving friend. He sleeps on the bed with me and Jim so that he can be close to the yarn basket, which has its share of alpaca fuzz (who doesn't sleep with their yarn at the foot of the bed?). He says it makes him feel closer to home. I take him at his word, for now. But if the fiber-y goodness starts to wander off, he and I both know who's the prime suspect.



In totally non-knitting related news, Jim and I spent the Fourth of July with my parents having a barbecue. There was grilling (dadumms loves his shiny new grill. loves. it.) Notice that when asked to "smile for the blog" Dadumms actually does...








...and swimming. This is the face Momolla makes when you tell her "smile for the blog!" Sweet, no? And there was eating. My goodness, there was eating. Shrimp and chicken kabobs, pasta salad, corn, pitas, some tuna steaks, and mini brownies to fill in the cracks. Jim and I left feeling even more stuffed than usual. And of course the company was great. It's always a pleasure to visit my family again. I find myself in the odd position of thinking of two different places as home. The house here is definitely home. It's where I live, it has a big part of my heart. And yet, the house and neighborhood where I grew up and where my family lives still pops into my head as "home" when I think about it.
"I miss that town/I miss their faces
You can't erase/You can't replace it
I miss it now/I can't believe it
So hard to stay/Too hard to leave it "

--Nickelback "photograph"

And, for your viewing pleasure, a rare picture of Jim sans obscene gestures towards the camera. I figured out the trick to getting him to not flip me off whenever I pull out the camera. I just threaten his life a little bit, and he behaves long enough to get one picture without obscenities.



I'm heading down to Jersey soon to pick Kate and maybe Momolla up to visit my Aunt Joan at the hospital. I want to see my aunt (actually my great aunt), but I know that if I do, it's going to ruin all my carefully crafted denial. My Aunt Joan and Aunt Elsie have been my two grandmothers throughout my life. For a variety of reasons, I've never been close to my biological grandparents, and because of these two ladies, I have never felt that to be a bad thing. They're two more of the strong women I keep telling you all I'm surrounded by. They're in their eighties now, I think, but until just recently, they've acted half their age. Aunt Joan has a lot of heart and other health problems, though, and we're afraid she won't be with us much longer. Aunt Elsie has just had a pacemaker put in, and she moves like an old lady now. I've been able to ignore these thoughts until now, because I haven't been letting myself realize them. But we go see Aunt Joan today, and I do believe it will break my little heart. See? Mindless knitting is good.

At any rate, it's time for me to go shower and get ready to go. Once we visit my aunt, Kate and I are going to do a little shopping. I got my Bush Money check recently, and some of it needs to go towards retail therapy. I hope your week is short, productive, and fun. And if it can't be, I hope that you get to knit lots and eat good quality chocolate.
"There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands"
--T S Eliot

Friday, June 20, 2008

Following the Leader

Because I am ever a follower (at least, when the people leading are doing cool stuff, anyway), I have joined the Tour de France Knitalong again. I'm on Team Slipstream-Chipotle. How cool is that name? This year, I'm aiming to knit a pair of socks in the allotted time. For me, it's quite the challenge. I lost track of how long it's been since I started the bribe socks. I have so much lovely sock yarn, I need only pick a skein. A pattern should be more challenging. I want something easy, but not quite a plain vanilla pattern again. Looks like it's time to hit the Internets! Right, because the very last thing I need is another excuse to spend time on my computer. I see my timing for joining Ravelry was pretty good, eh?

Today, I am being remarkably lazy. I laid in bed reading til about noon, and I'm not sorry for it. Today is my first real day off in a week or two, and my last for about the same. I think I'm working six days and some crazy hours for next week--my manager will be gone and we're not sure who his replacement will be yet. Our third service writer left a note telling us that he wouldn't be in town this weekend, but that we should call him if we needed him to work Monday. I'm thinking of finding him and relieving him of a few appendages. Without a definite manager, this is pretty much the very last thing we need right now. But, we'll cope.

At any rate, the house is mostly clean, the weather's a bit iffy to be out in the garden (thunderstorms are being called for) and the most I have to do today is some laundry and a bit of shopping. Not such a bad deal, eh? I'm pretty much caught up on life, and that's a lovely feeling, isn't it? The most worrying thing on my plate right now is waiting for my test results from the lady doctor. I should be hearing back sometime next week. Fortunately for me, Dr. Paula is great, and she appreciates my sense of humor. As a Wood, if you present me with something serious and potentially worrisome, I feel myself obligated to make smartass remarks about it. When I told her I was the envy of all the girls back home, she told me that if I wanted to have a colposcopy party, she'd give us a discounted rate. And this, my friends, is why I drive back to New Jersey every time I need to see the lady doctor.

And for the moment, that's all the news there is from over here. I'll be trying to post more often for the knitalong, and to keep the habit up. No, no. Really. Yes, I mean it. Honest. I swear. (i give it a month, any bets on how long the frequent updating lasts, ladies?) Welcome to the weekend!

edited to add: I spoke too soon, I ended up getting called in to work for a few hours because my assistant manager needs to pick her daughter up from day care. I had to cancel a date with Jim and everything. I'm not normally a vindictive person (stop laughing momolla, it's true!), but when I find Mark the Errant Service Writer, I will harm him severely. In a thoroughly professional and friendly way, of course.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ick...

I'm finally done my delightful seven-day work marathon. There's some good news in there--my manager put his notice in. After this Saturday, he will no longer be working with my company. Huge sighs of relief are being heaved all through the store. The only down side is that now that he's decided he's leaving, he doesn't give a shit about anything. At all. But then, that was the case before he put his notice in, too, so it's not really much of a change.

At any rate, tomorrow is my first island of freedom in this busy ocean of work, and I will be spending it in Jersey, so as to visit the doctor. I went in for my regular lady doctor checkup and was told I needed a colposcopy because (once again) my pap smear was abnormal. Not to give you folks too complete a history, but my paps are always abnormal (seriously, in four or so years of seeing the lady doctor, i have had one normal test) and even though they're not the alarming sort of abnormal, the doctor is recommending more testing (this has a lot to do with the huge rates of cancer in my dad's family). A colposcopy is basically just a test to screen me for any pre-cancerous cells, and it's nothing really major or life-changing, but it is no fun. I've had one before, and I was crampy and uncomfortable for a few days afterwards (why does the doctor always say "there will be a slight pinch" when she means "this will be quite an unpleasant feeling, the likes of which you will hope never to experience again"?). Jim has graciously agreed to drive me to Jersey and Momolla will be taking me to the appointment and back. Momolla is also bribing us to stay for dinner, there will be grilled meat and homemade potato salad. Who can argue with that? I'm planning to take some good painkillers and knit a few more inches on my second bribe sock. All in all, it won't be a bad day. Just not quite as restful as I'd originally hoped. But hey, there's potato salad.

And sadly, that's about all I have for you folks tonight. Sorry for the lack of meaningful content, my brain is a bit (more) scrambled (than usual). I promise to post a blog with something interesting, or at least some pictures, later in the week. I hope this week goes along smoothly and well for you all.

Oh, and I've joined Ravelry. My username is Emmyjane4286. Stop on by to say hi.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Lovely Weekend

In spite of the ridiculous heat. I'm sure everyone is tired of hearing how hot it suddenly is up here, but our temperatures jumped from the mid-60's to the high 90's in the span of two or three days. Nobody was prepared for this, and my goodness, EVERYone is miserable.

Nonetheless, this past weekend was lovely. Jim and I went to my sister Carolyn's wedding on Saturday, and managed to get there on time. I had to pull a Clark Kent maneuver and throw my dress and makeup on in the bathroom, since my boss is the devil and made me come into work for three hours so I could leave for the wedding. The ceremony was short (a methodist ceremony, i'm only familiar with catholic types. twenty-five minutes and everything was done. amazing! someone should tell the catholics about this stuff. my butt hardly had time to fall asleep), and the bride was radiant. Here's Carolyn and John, the lucky new husband, on the steps of the church. I love this picture, because Carolyn looks so thrilled. And the big princess dress fits her to a t.


The reception was held at Historic Prallsville Mill in New Jersey, and the venue was lovely. There was even some shade, thankfully, though the ladies of the party all ended up sinking into the soft ground at some point. Ladies' shoes are not meant to be worn on un-paved areas (i was the object of much jealousy. i switched my fabulous blue shoes out for some boring black flip-flops and was probably the happiest girl there). The food was wonderful, the dj friendly. All in all, it was a wonderful day, and I feel so blessed Carolyn asked me and Jim to be there. The wedding was very small, perhaps a hundred people, including the bridal party and so forth. Seems like a lot of people, but really, it seemed very intimate and sweet. Carolyn, if you ever read this, thank you. It was a pleasure to share in your day.

This is a picture of the Albright crew, as we're called, all the people who went to school with Carolyn. With the exception of the single male, everyone present was a sorority sister. I have never quite gotten the hang of looking good in group shots (or solo shots, let's not lie here), so I look rather dorky. But there I am in the black dress looking short and generally tiny (especially when compared to the young lady to the left of the bride. i tell you, she's built like an amazon. life is cruel, isn't it?) and you won't be able to notice, but the hair is much improved. Colleen chopped some layers into it for me Friday night, and now I at least look like an adult. (thanks so much for the support while i was freaking out. i feel silly, but a crappy haircut is really damaging to my fair, fragile flower of femininity psyche. stop that giggling, mom! it is!)

And, being the terrible blogger/photographer that I am, this is the only picture I have of me and Jim from the whole sweaty, sticky day. You'll have to trust me when I say that he cleans up extremely nicely (goodness, i love a man in a tie!), and that I wasn't looking too shabby, myself. I like to think Jim had a decent time, though he looked a little overwhelmed by my sisters at some points.



Saturday was a day of celebration and joy, but Sunday, my friends, was a day of bounty. It turns out that there is an alpaca farm in Cape May, NJ. This is not too terribly far from where Jim and I used to live, and he heard about it on the radio and suggested a trip down on our day off (no, you can't have him, he's all mine) even though Jim has no particular love of alpacas or of fiber.
And so, a plan was born. We were going to see the alpacas (or, if you're like me and are easily excited by large, fuzzy things of incomparable cuteness, the FUZZIES!), maybe wander the local boardwalk or see a movie, and then have dinner with my family. The day went pretty much according to plan, except for some unfortunate navigational maneuvers. Mostly, these weren't really our fault, as the road that the alpaca farm sits on is not marked on the main road. (there are no pictures of the fuzzies, i am a bad, bad little blogger and left my camera at home. however, this website has great pictures. fuzzies on the beach!) We finally found the place, and spent a while outside in the heat, watching the alpacas roaming. Goodness, they're cute! Even when they're laying in the dirt, they're cute. They try to roll over, and they get kind of stuck on their backs halfway over like a turtle and have to really heave themselves to finish the roll. Sooo cute!

And then, we saw the store. I bought Momolla and Kate some fleece, so as to share the wonder of the alpacas with them, minus the heat. None of us has ever carded a fleece before, so this should be an adventure. The woman who runs the shop is lovely, and gave me all kinds of information about the different fleeces and the animals they came off of, and she added me to her mailing list for when she has sales. And through it all, Jim was wonderful. He was certainly not sharing my joy in talking to a woman I'd never met before about how amazing alpacas are, but when we left, he nonetheless made a comment about the next time we go back (no, you can't have him. really. do you know how hard it is to find a man willing to drive for three hours and almost two hundred miles one way to indulge you?), and he even dutifully petted the fleeces.

This is the skein of yarn I bought, which is handpainted Paca Paints in Seaglass, just my colors, all wonderful blues and greens mixed with a tiny bit of gray. The colors are less muted than in this picture. (please ignore the shirt that the yarn is posed on. the white pep boys shirt contrasted much better than the bowel movement green of the couch) I think it shall be a lovely scarf, when I'm feeling up to touching yarn again.


And as if all that and a delicious steak dinner weren't enough, Dadumms made me sock blockers! I can now get rid of the ridiculously misshapen wire ones I made, and use these pretty wooden ones. And in true handcrafter's form, they're not quite finished yet. He's so good at this handmade gifts thing! Here they are posing with my fleece and my yarn, getting cozy together.


The picture here actually gives a good idea of the color the fleece I chose for myself is. It came off of Regalo, who is pretty new to the herd, and I do believe it is the softest, squishiest, most beautiful thing I have ever felt. It is just too lovely for words, and it will wait for me to get a wheel, I think, because this needs to be spun up properly. No placemats for this lot!

And that right there was a wonderful weekend, full of family and friends and food and love and fiber. And you know the best part? I got to spend a weekend with Jim, out and about having adventures. Sure, we were hot and sticky and not quite pleasant the whole time. But we got to bond, and spend more time together than it feels like we have in ages. And that, my friends was great. Welcome to the new week, I hope things to smoothly and sweetly for you all.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Drive-by...

...I just got the haircut equivalent of a fifteen minute oil and lube job for a car. When I gave the nice woman my preferences (no shorter than my ears, long enough to be pulled back if possible but not a requirement, and will look good when parted on the side), which, to be fair, were pretty vague, I sat back and let the nice lady do her job. And now, I look like a fourteen-year old. I've always looked young, but this is just bad. Do a google image search on Mary Anne from the Babysitter's Club movie. I haven't done one, so watch out for porn and such. But if you can find it, that'll give you an idea of the blunt, perfectly even dome of hair that I have. It is completely symmetrical and just too lovely for me to post pictures of. I'm considering trying to chop some layers into it myself tonight. Because, really, didn't the all-one-length shoulder bob go out in the '90's? Any thoughts on hairstyles to disguise the mess that is my hair? This all started because my hair refuses to curl ever.