Friday, May 25, 2007

10 Great Things About Today

Sometimes the box of crackerjacks has the prize you really really wanted, and sometimes the box has that and an extra surprise and the crackerjacks are particularly fresh and crunchy and there's a rare triple peanut cluster waiting for you to boot! That was my Friday, May 25, 2007.
  1. I attended a meeting with a whole bunch of people who wanted to hear what I had to say (this has never happened before at this job, not once).
  2. At the end of that meeting I got to meet the man I would most like to work for in the whole world (I've known about him for a while) and he took time to shake my hand warmly and inquire into my background and, upon finding out that I will be applying to UC Berkeley this fall, offered to help in any way that he could and even offered some suggestions for how that might work.
  3. I got to finish completely catching up on the job I'm leaving - completely caught up. I was thumb twiddling by the end of the day.
  4. My children all got where they needed to go via the efforts of other people! Yes, responsible adults remembered times and addresses and drove them around. (TP is off on, get this, a river rafting birthday party weekend! Makes the old pizza and pinata thing seem a little weak, eh?)
  5. I got home to find out that one of our very favorite children in all the world landed a coveted spot in my children's school for next year. This is a child who has struggled dreadfully socially at her current middle school, so she was shrieking and running around in circles with joy - it was lovely to watch.
  6. Her mom also works, but different hours than I do. And - ready? - they LIVE NEXT DOOR. Given that the school is a 15 to 20 minute drive away, this is so fabulously exciting, I can't even tell you. Like winning the carpooling lottery (if you don't live in California, here's a news flash - we don't do school busses, nor is there decent pubtrans - it's BYOKid). When I heard the news I shrieked and ran around in circles with joy.
  7. It's pizza night - just heard the door slam, spouse has hunted/gathered for us.
  8. I found some sock yarn in my stash - lovely superwash in a navy blue from Knitpicks - and after trying and failing to get the seamless toe up sock going at least 20 times last night (fer real), I finally got it and have a very nice toe to show for it. If you look carefully, the needles are different sizes. Amazingly, I get gauge with this technique (three 1's, two 2's) where I couldn't with all 1's or all 2's. Will I regret this decision? Knitters, please advise.
  9. My adored skincare products were stolen with my suitcase, and replacements arrived today - huzzah!
  10. It's a THREEEEE day weekend (I'd forgotten) and it's filled with things I like to do! An acupuncture appointment, knitting, a hockey game with JMan, pedi/manicures with the TP and 2 friends to celebrate her birthday, and finishing up that dastardly bathroom.

Ahhhhhhh. It's a good life.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Subscriber Number 6

Thank you, whomever you are. It really wasn't necessary, but I'm appreciative.

I haven't posted for a long while about why I'm not creating, so I'll splurge: we have a 21 square foot half bath under our stairs, at the way back of the house. For 8 years it has been the ugliest room I have ever seen in my life. No, seriously. Don't tell me about your Room of Fame. You can't beat it. I don't even have before pics, because it was so hideous we just used it as a closet for most of the time we've lived here.

It had stuff glued on the walls: plastic delft-style tiles, and some strangely arranged lathing that had been stained a dark brown. Those two surrounded the medicine cabinet, in no particular pattern or plan. Apart from that, there was yellow paint, and there was pink paint. And over the yellow and pink a single, thin coat of white gloss paint. But not so thin that it didn't manage to drip quite a bit.

The floor? Nearly indescribable. Three different patches (approx 3 x 3 ft each) of different tiles. No, they didn't match, or accent each other, or anything you might expect. They were just tiles. Different types of tiles, in patches. With dark brown grout, to tie it all together.

To top it off, literally, it is under the stairs so the ceiling and one wall are - stairs.

And the commercial wall sink was over 20" deep in a 36" wide space. Claustrophobia? I'm thinking.

I decided in March, after a comment by our Auntie Jan about the tiles, that I'd had enough of the floor, and spent a day ripping it out.

Ever been a homeowner? You know this story. Under the tiles was water, because, as it turns out, the toilet has a crack.

Replace the toilet? Well, you're not going to leave that sink, are you?

Pull the sink off the wall? Oh, dear GOD, what is that?

Long story short, I'm in the home stretch, six weeks later. I hope to finish this weekend and have the new fixtures installed next week. Pics soon.

Finally, if you've read this far: For those who have followed my job saga, it is resolved. I have a new job (same hospital), I have moved to a new building, my old duties have been parceled out temporarily to unsuspecting souls, and a new person will be coming on June 15 (which also, coincidentally, is the day summer starts for our family). Hurrrrrrrah! This is a much lower-stress job, and I'm very hopeful it will increase both my happiness and my free time (because I won't be dog tired when I get home at night).

Monday, May 21, 2007

On Blogging

We've always done the family dinner thing, the whole family, at least 5 nights a week. It's one of the things that defines our family. We've never had to push the kids to be there, they just do it. Perhaps it's because it's mostly fun, especially as they get older. We argue sometimes, but not heatedly, and mostly it's good-natured banter, one-up-manship and joking. My kids, as healthy and well-adjusted and generous as they are, constantly vie for parental attention in subtle ways at dinner.

Tonight we were talking, as families are wont to do, of the difference between a catapult and a trebuchet. We covered some math, some schoolmate personalities (the Teen Princess and her teen friends are building one - decorated with fairies - to shoot lemons, even though it's an assignment in a younger grades class...they just thought it sounded like fun), some history, looked up the words in the dictionary. Slowly the pattern of conversation turned into a "listen to him, listen to her, listen to him, listen to her" pattern, and the undercurrent of attention desire began to show on the surface.

J-Man made a point, and then I turned back to TP to follow up on something she'd said. Before I could open my mouth, my almost 11yo son threw himself on the table and said what they'd both wanted to say for years. What we've all (really) always wanted to say to the world:

"Keep listening to MEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!"

It was a hilarious moment (he is a hilarious guy), and he got the laugh he deserved. But later, when I was out with him on a walk/rollerblade (listening, listening, listening), it struck me that that's why we write. It makes our voices permanent and real and available to be heard over and over, forever. I have a measly 5 subscribers at Bloglines, and a mere 4800 hits (half of them mine as I reload after fixing spelling errors), and I know I'm not half the writer or crafter that the people I admire are. But there's something about putting what I've made, what I've thought, what I've seen down in print that makes it real, makes me feel heard, makes it feel like it matters.

And so I'm grateful for even one reader tonight. Thanks!

Now, if you want to read a beautiful essay on what the dawning of a girl's adulthood means to her mother, go here.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Week That Was

First, we arrived in Seattle.

We had a lovely dinner at Ivar's Pier 54 (where I happened to buy a souvenir t-shirt).

Then we got back to our rental van. Guess whose suitcase was the only thing snagged, out of fifteen passengers'? Imagine the look of disappointment on the thief's face upon opening the suitcase of a frugal and hopelessly unchic 45 yo woman.

While the huckers and poppers hucked and popped on Saturday, I shopped (wearing my Ivar's t-shirt and yesterday's pants).

Costco, it turns out, sells suitcases, pajamas, underwear and socks. Spandex cotton underwear? I'm a convert.

Joe's Sporting Goods had Columbia jeans and fancy t-shirts on sale. A Safeway run for toiletries, and I was good to go, a happy woman.

Great Ultimate was played, although not a lot of games won by the good guys.

By Sunday afternoon, sleeping on the cold wet ground had become the priority for the kids, beating out M&Ms, cheering on one's teammates, listening to award ceremonies.

We flew home Sunday night (too, too late), happy but completely exhausted.

Monday I came down with the cold going around the office. Tuesday I stayed in bed and made this out of leftover Rowan cotton blend from the brown sweater.

Wednesday and Thursday were extraordinarily stressful days at work (although I did wear the scarf on Thursday...that was a high point). Craft-free evenings. Evenings spent grousing to my family and watching Stewart and Colbert and taking to bed at 9:00pm.

And we're full circle back to Friday.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

More Yarn, Please Sir?

Fits perfectly. It just needs sleeves. I still love Magic Loop.

Seattle weekend update to follow when I have more photos. No yarn was purchased, but new friends were made, and I discovered micro-fiber underwear, so the account finished in the black.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Still Life, with Hair

So I figured out how a 10yo boy manages to get a jacket draped across a camera lens. Same way a 45yo woman manages to let her gray hair drift across.

Apart from the hairy lens, this is how the sweater looks. According to the pattern, I am five rows from done with the body. But as I would look like a goober with a sweater that short, I must knit on.

Tragically, I'm only 2 skeins away from the end of the yarn, and that will likely get me the rest of the body and most of one sleeve. Double tragically, I knit this up so fast, Article Pract has not even reordered yet, let alone received more yarn. Triple tragically, get this, I'm boarding a plane bound for Seattle tomorrow at 1 for a weekend of frisbee, and during this weekend my ONLY JOB is to keep my child and two others from wandering off, drowning, entering a life of crime or behaving in an untoward manner. I don't have to drive, organize, plan, make decisions. I am, in fact, just a sheep, following the Frisbee shepard. Soooooooo...I could knit. I should knit. I must knit. But there will be no lovely lavender yarn by Friday afternoon.

However. Friday afternoon and evening are being spent in the tourist area of Seattle (around the Pike's Market). Anybody know of a yarn shop? I'm thinking I could start some socks for a certain someone who runs like a girl.

Speaking of other bloggers, the Teen Princess has written a lovely poem on her latest blog iteration.

UPDATE: Google to the rescue. So Much Yarn is a fish's throw from Pike's Place Fish Market, and open until 6:00pm. Trip report with photos upon my return!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Best Sweater Ever

There was a time when I was too cool to do what everyone told me I should do.

That time has been over for a while. I moisturize. I started a Roth IRA with index funds. I eat olive oil. I keep my tires filled up for better gas mileage. I'm paying down my credit cards. Eight hours of sleep, every night. Mammograms. Yeah, I got it all goin' on.

And now, I knit top down raglans.

This sweater is fabulous, fitting it was easy, adjusting to deal with the gauge was easy, and I don't have to seam anything (!) when I'm done. And so I just knit. I don't even need a row counter, or notes, or more than 4 stitch markers.

Top down raglan: because it's the right thing to do. And it's over half done. Pix soon.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Neck and Shoulders

Third time's the charm! I'm over halfway down the shoulders, although it's hard to tell here.

Reviews: I bought Addi TURBO needles by Skacel for this project and they ROCK. I mean, seriously rock! They sell themselves by saying you knit faster with them, and darn if they aren't right. Beautiful, smooth, fast, and very lightweight needles, and the cord is totally no snag and also no twist like nylon. Two thumbs way way up.

Magic Loop: Also have to give it two huge thumbs up. It took a little getting used to in the beginning, but now that I've got the hang of it I think it's twice as fast as using double pointed needles. And certainly cheaper, owning just one set of needles instead of several.

Public Service Announcement: Give blood. Just do it. It hurts less than a shot, way less than skinning a knee or stubbing a toe, gives you an excuse to have your family/friends take care of you that evening (I'm usually a little tired after, but playing it up never hurt anybody), and will save a life. Each unit of blood you give helps three different people, through its various parts.

Since working in thalassemia and sickle cell research, I've come to know a lot of very nice people who rely on blood transfusions every three weeks to stay alive. Be a pal, and help 'em out.

And, if that doesn't convince you, the Mayo Clinic says your body burns 600 extra calories replacing the blood. So you get to eat ice cream after! Plus today, I got a snappin' cool Red Cross hat and a Starbucks card for donating. Well worth it.

There will likely be no sewing this weekend, as kiddie sports and the bathroom floor redo have to take priority, plus yet another grant package has to be out the door soon. But I shall knit on.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Me and My Sweater

My favorite part of this image is the zipper in the lower right. How does a 10yo boy manage to get his jacket zipper into a photo?

Let's just consider it arty, and move on.

Second favorite thing? Yeah, it's DONE. And, for the first time in four handmade sweaters, I like it enough to wear it. I'm taking it to work today, it dresses up a dressy tee and cords enough to call the outfit work attire.

I fixed the edging by doing one row slip stitch, one row single crochet and finally the one row pattern. Not perfect, but nice. I'm still struggling with the button and actually have the sweater safety pinned here. Whatever.

The cotton blend for The Purple Sweater shrinks somewhere between a whole bunch and a lot. About 20%. I fussed with the math, knitted the neck, ripped, figured out a better calculation, got about 20 rows in and realized I'd screwed up the (incredibly simple) yo pattern, so will rip again tonight and try, try again.

A big shout out to Stefaneener, who taught me by example that it's a Really Good Idea to try the neckline out on the intended wearer before getting to the shoulders. That trick helped me adjust things nicely.