Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Reason I Loathe My Job Number 6,937,082

I had to root through a dumpster for a customer last night. Twice. Yup. I wasn't going to complain about my job this time, but I just had to share. Coincidentally, I'm polishing up my resume. Anybody know of a company in southeastern PA looking for a professional, outgoing, creative person to do...something? No? Me, neither. But I'll keep you posted on the job search.

My taxes are filed! I feel like such an adult. And for some reason, I'm hardly getting anything back. Bah. And what little I will get back, I will probably put right into paying off some bills, or perhaps I will save it for an emergency or a rainy day. It would be more fun to treat myself to some fiber, or to scout out my own spinning wheel, but it would also be good to have a little bit of a reserve. That way, when the zombies invade, I have a supply of cash ready to go so I can stock up on non-perishables and other survival supplies. Paranoid? Me? No, not at all.

I have yet to frog the second bribe sock. I'm still slightly in denial--I keep thinking that if I just leave it one more day, I will have an epiphany as to how to fix it without having to rip out two month's worth of stitches. Why, yes, I am an extraordinarily slow knitter. I've been using the past few days to knit on the boss baby blanket, and to fondle my pretty, pretty roving. I'm fairly certain I suck at spinning, but then, I'm brandy-new at it, so that's to be expected. Not tolerated for long, but expected. I'm looking for a good tutorial online, I think I may be spinning it much, much too tightly. And I also have trouble keeping the weight uniform throughout, I'll have to use this for a novelty knit or something. There's tons of my brown beginner's roving, though, so it may have to be a big novelty item.

Speaking of knitting, I'm thinking I'd like to knit a wedding shawl for a friend who's getting married next June. I figure if I start soon, could have it blocked and ready by the night before. Have I mentioned I'm a slow knitter? I'd really love to knit something ethereal and floaty, but not too frilly, since she's not the very most feminine young woman that I know. I'm looking for some patterns that might work, and then I'll start looking for materials. Ebay, here I come. I'm thinking maybe some white silk, with beads either worked in, or along the edges. We'll see how much that'll run me, though, the budget's a little tight at the moment.

I think spring is making my knitting commitment issues worse. I'm bad enough at finishing things when the weather's gloomy and I'm bored, but now that it's sixty degrees and sunny out, I'm overcome with the need to cast on all manner of things. This is terrible. I've been slacking off on the sock-who-will-not-be-named, and procrastinating on the bribe sock. And I've only got about a foot of the boss baby blanket finished. The child was born in January! I think it may be time to crack the whip, and make myself do something productive. After these are all handled, I may have to give project monogamy a try. Or at least scale back on the polygamous urges.

Today is warm and sunny and bright, and I wish you could all have a slice of our weather for once. I'm thinking of retracting all of those nasty things I thought about how it's always raining and Pennsylvania in the spring must surely be the most miserable place in the world. Of course, NOAA says that by Saturday, it will be raining again. Figures.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Lest you think I am a terrible person...

...who only whines and complains about her life and is shallow and awful, I give you a happy, colorful post. Look at all the pretties! No yarn content today, just some pretty outdoorsy bits to celebrate that big, yellow thing I saw in the sky yesterday. I think it may be that mythical sun thing I keep hearing so much cool stuff about. This was the kind of day where the air is warm and sweet and smells like grass and there are people out and about enjoying life. The sun on your skin feels almost magical, because you haven't felt it in months, and wearing a t-shirt feels slightly scandalous, since your arms haven't seen the world outside your house in what feels like years. The whole world feels like it's waking up, and it's good to just be a part of that.

These, and the picture above, are the faux flowers planted in the yard. Well, some of them. They're clustered at the bottom of some shrubs that I can't identify. They will be coming out of the ground next weekend, and I will be looking for some things to replace them with of a more organic type. I'm still amused by them, though, to the point where I'm contemplating keeping them. They're so unapologetically happy looking. And quirky. And now that the rest of the yard is green, you can hardly tell that they're fake. Okay, it's not quite so blatantly apparent, at least.

There are violets in the bed in front of the house. They always look so pretty and dainty, I wish I knew how to keep them indoors. They're some of the only plants in the front worth cultivating to me, but then, that could be because they remind me of my youth. When I was in grade school, I used to walk by a house that had a huge, verdant bed of violets in front of it every day on my way to school and then back home. The sight of all those lush vines with the delicate flowers has stuck with me in the back of my mind all these years, and they still make me think of spring.

There are hyacinths scattered around in front of the house in the planted areas, in a random pattern. I think the last owner just got them for Easter and planted the bulbs wherever the mood struck her. I'd like to see where they all are and try to work in a few more to make it less, ah, chaotic, and more visually stimulating. They're beautiful flowers, you can see the purply-blue of the blossoms and how it's limned in white. Lovely, lovely things. And so spring-like.

And this is a bush with some lovely pink blooms on it. I've no idea what it is (my horticultural knowledge is nearly nonexistent), but the flowers are silky and small and very feminine looking somehow. Maybe it's the pink. Whatever it is, the clusters of flowers look very becoming, I could easily see them used in some pretty bouquets or a floating flower arrangement. They're next to this odd, leafy thing that I can't identify and that seems to be a houseplant left to its own devices for too long.

And here we have a close-up of the blooms on what I have thought of as the inexplicable sideways bush, it looks like it's growing straight out to the side, parallel to the ground. In the winter, we had no idea what it was, and so were planning on taking it out. I'm thinking those plans have to change. Cut it back some, yes. It does block access to the postage stamp of land behind the house. But take it out? Oh, no. Forsythia is so joyful looking, isn't it? It looks best when it's wild and left to its own devices. And the bush, despite the odd angle, seems to be pretty healthy. It's in better shape than the one in the backyard, anyway. Of course, this one gets more sunlight.

Here is the obligatory spring daffodil picture. It actually does the happy, sunny color of these flowers some justice. We have a half-dozen or so of them sprawling out by the porch steps, and they look so at home, and I haven't the heart to take something so pretty out of the ground so that something else can go there.

And here you see some of the tasteful, lovely things that have been forced on, rather, ah, gifted to us here. We have a birdhouse, painted rather festively, that my uncle snuck into Jim's truck when Jim was bringing furniture back up. To the right of the birdhouse is my very own piece of classy yard ornamentation, a flamingo. His arms flap a little when it's windy. He's actually kind of cute, and I'm fond of him. Like the penguin in the shower, he's friendly and kind of festive. I haven't picked out a name for him yet, any suggestions?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Dear Mr. Angry Customer

I'm very sorry that after we fixed your car, something different and completely unrelated to what we fixed broke. I'm even more sorry I can't prove to you that we didn't break it. I'm sorry that the technician who worked on it was an ASE-certified Mastertech of thirtyish years who happened to not show you his credentials first. I'm even more sorry he heard you call him incompetent. I'm sorry that your car is an unreliable piece of shit. I'm even more sorry you brought it to us. I'm very, very sorry that your wife is in the hospital dying--that is something nobody should ever have to watch. I'm even more sorry you chose to take your frustrations, fear, anger, and anxiety out on me--I had nothing to do with your car, from the time you dropped it off to the time you picked it up. I'm sorry you had to be somewhere in a timely fashion and that your car troubles may prevent that. I'm even more sorry you didn't think to get your car fixed until it stopped running--it would've been easier to fix if you'd maintained it. I'm sorry that the dealership you bought the car from did some crappy work to it and you lost your paperwork. I'm even more sorry you felt the need to yell at my co-worker about it--it's not his fault you lost the paperwork from the dealership. I'm sorry that my mechanic called you a fuckhead--it was unprofessional, no matter how deserved. I'm even more sorry you chose to act in a manner to us that made you worthy of the title. I am not sorry that I spoke to you calmly, but assertively. I am not sorry I did not accept your apology for screaming at me for ten minutes about how much your life sucks right now before stopping long enough for me to ask what was going on. I am not sorry about the work we did, it was justified, approved by you, and well-executed. I hope that someday, you realize you need a better way to handle your many issues than to yell at people who have nothing to do with them. If that doesn't happen, I hope somebody stands up to you, tells you to get the hell out, and that your engine seizes in traffic. You fuckhead.

Yup, it was that kind of a day at the boys. I loathe my job sometimes. So, now that that's out of my system, let's talk about happy stuff. My computer is here! Mmmmm, technology of my own. It's all shiny and sleek and black and sexy. And portable. I am blogging from bed while I eat ice cream. How decadent is that? I love that I can curl up on the couch and play while Jim watches the NFL channel. I love so much that I can dump the pictures off my camera onto the computer. I can download books to listen to while I knit, I can install my games and my frivolous software. I can bookmark any page that strikes my fancy. I can change my homepage. I can do anything. Yes, my friends, life is good. To celebrate the basic goodness of life, I give you pictures. These are inspired by RoseRed, and her marvelous shoe collection. They're not half so lovely as some of the ones she's been showing off, but I think they're fabulous.

These beautiful creatures were fourteen dollars on clearance and once I saw them, I had to have them. The color in the pictures, despite the crappy lighting, is pretty true-to-life. They're a deep, vivid jewel blue and very, very shiny. The heels are tall, but not terrible so. They flare out slightly towards the heel, which gives them some support. They are great to walk in, since the sole and the heel are both made of rubber. Well, okay, they're as great as any heels ever are. I know they're not good for your feet. But they do make your legs look great. You can't tell from this angle, but I painted my toenails specifically for these pictures. My roommates think I'm crazy, but then, they're getting used to that. I think I will wear these to my friend's wedding in June, with a little black dress and a lovely shawl. I'd like to knit one, but there just won't be enough time for me to do that in a month and a half. Slow is my knitting style.
Here are my shiny blue shoes posing playfully on the bed--the white sheets give a much better color contrast than the shit brown of my floor. And it's so much easier to photograph shoes when they're not actually on your feet! RoseRed, I'm not quite sure how you do it so artistically ever week.

In other, less encouraging news, I have to frog the second bribe sock. I tried it on, hoping to offer you ladies some quality knitting photos, and to my horror, this is as far as it would go up my foot. Did I think to double check the size of this sock? No. Did I take it for granted that the same knitter using the same materials and the same pattern would produce the same finished object, despite all previous evidence to the contrary? Yes. Was that a stupid move? Yes, very. Do I feel stupid? Ohhhh, yeah, dumb as a box of hammers. Have I found yet another aspect of knitting to obsess and freak out about? Yup. Was I not OCD enough before? Obviously not, and this has only proven to me that one can never be too obsessed with something.

This is a very telling picture of the size difference between the two socks. The smaller one is on top, and there's a difference of about an inch. This is soooo not something I can block out and then fake. It's not even something I can call a design feature. Unless I want to give one sock to a poor/sick/injured child in a hospital/home/shelter and one to a homeless/unemployed/abused adult in a halfway house/street corner/supermarket, the second one has to come out. I can see the difference in the stitch size when I compare the two, now. It's blatantly obvious. But the original bribe sock went to the sock drawer to be socialized, because I'm an optimist, and I thought his brother would be joining him soon, and little more attention was paid, except for the occasional caress when taking some cheap commercial socks out to wear. And so here I am, preparing to frog my second-ever sock (excluding the sock-who-shall-not-be-named-because-naming-said-devil-sock-causes-it-to-misbehave-and-
drive-me-batshit-crazy). And that's the state of knitting affairs. I had thought the great and mighty suck that was today was over and done with when I got home, but just like always, life has given me a great surprise. The one thing I can really count on is that life never stops surprising me. The only good thing about it is that it keeps things interesting. After all, if I didn't continually screw up my knitting and find out two thirds of the way through, or do any of the other zany, bizarre things that I do, then I wouldn't have anything to blog about. And then what would you read to feel better about your life, eh? This blog serves an important purpose.

In other other news, I have health insurance again. Yay, insurance! Sure, it's pretty terrible coverage, all things considered, but on the bright side, if I become ill to the point where I'm considering the merits of the emergency room and wondering how long the waiting list for the free clinic the next town over is, I can just go to a local doctor, possibly even the one whose office I live next to. And if I should need some kind of doctor-controlled medication, I would not have to weight the benefits of food or timely rent payments against the benefits of modern medicine. In fact, I can probably stop sacrificing goats for my good health. I may keep up with that, since it's been effective so far, though. We'll see.

And here we are, segueing into the weekend again. May the weekend wherever you are be filled with beauty and wonder. May you not have to think of someone as a fuckhead, wherever you go and whatever you do. And may you baffle at least one non-knitter with some inexplicable knitter behavior. Maybe if the rain ever stops, I will photograph some pretty yarn-type products in my yard. There are flowers of the organic variety out there, now, too. How cool is that?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Practicing my Delayed Gratification Skills

Well, Jim and I have finally picked a computer for me. There was much deliberation, and a phone call or two to my Dadumms, and a decision was reached. In spite of my general dislike of Dell products, I am about to be the owner of one of their laptops. Dell seems to make a good, solid, reliable laptop, which is what I need, especially for when I go back to school (fall 09 is the goal, feel free to nag/question/remind/encourage) and will have to have something portable and easy to work with. I ordered a Vostro 1500,which is actually designed for a small business. No, I don't have a business, but the options available to businesses were a lot more palatable and user-friendly. Jim could tell you all about the RAM and the front side bus speed and such. I can tell you that it's black and that the screen is a little over fifteen inches big. When it comes to computers, I can operate them competently enough, but I know pretty much nothing about them in terms of specs and requirements. I'm told this one will be as close to perfect as I can get for under bajillions of dollars, and I trust my technology gurus.

The only downside is that there were a few customized options Jim picked out for me. I know, that's not actually bad. He picked the upgraded bits and the important stuff. But it means that the wonderful people at Dell have to build my laptop before they can send it out. The estimated shipment date is the ninth. Shipping takes three to five days after that. This is actually pretty quick, and shipping is free. But I'm not sure my roommates can refrain from killing me for that much longer. See, I'm just a wee, tiny, touch bit thrilled about this. So I keep talking about it. And asking Jim about it. And talking about it. Fortunately, though, when the computer gets here and is deemed perfect for my consumption, I will gleefully disappear for a few days to acquaint myself with it. Ahhhh, technology.

I'm glad you folks all like the story of the Penguin Wars. The saga will continue, I assure you. And yes, that's precisely why I didn't look thrilled when I opened a box and found a penguin. Dadumms took my copy of his car key back over the weekend, to ensure that I can't give him any more gifts. This just means I have to be more creative. And I will. I will also keep you wonderful folks up to date. Don't tell my parents this (mom, stop reading, okay? just skip to the next paragraph. move along, there's nothing here for you to see) but this is kind of fun.

I find I have inherited a box of tatting materials from my aunt's aunt that, really, I pretty much don't know what to do with. I've always wanted to try tatting lace, but I'm intimidated by a size 000 hook and the thread. Plus, I can't seem to find any instructions for this type of lace-making online. I'm thinking I may have to try to find a local craft store and look for a book, or perhaps check Amazon for one. Are any of you folks at all familiar with tatting? Know anyone that is who could answer some questions? I have a pretty good grasp of crochet, but I'm not sure how that would work with something this small and fragile. In the mean time, there are some handkerchiefs in there I might try some edging on.

I have finally turned the heel on the bribe sock, which thrills me. I'm in the home stretch! It's only taken me forever and roughly a day to do this. By the time I actually finish my little pretty, it will be nearly too warm for them. Speaking of socks, there's a pair I want to make Dadumms for Father's Day. There is no pattern, so I will have to wing it. Yes, you should be afraid. A novice knitter, winging it. See, we used to run around in our socks a lot as children. You know how with commercial socks, you can get that big, flappy bit at your toes when they start slipping off? My dad calls them sock walruses. For Father's Day, I want to knit him some brown socks and put tusks and whiskers and eyes on them. It sounds a little over the top, but I think he'll get a kick out of them. I'm considering trying to make them more like slipper-socks, though, since I can't see him wearing them anywhere but around the house. So something warm and wool and soft, with maybe a felted pad on the bottom, and some silicone dots for traction? I have yarn I can use, I just need to sit down and plan this out. Any thoughts?

Time for me to hit the hay now, got a long weekend in front of me. Lots of work and extra-curriculars going on. I hope your weekend is fun and warm and bright. And if it is, I hope you tell me all about it, it's going to be cold and rainy again this weekend. Imagine that. Rain. In Pennsylvania. Who'd have thought?