Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Incoming messages

A few weeks ago my sister wrote something on her blog about her talent. I don't know what else to call it. Judge for yourself what you think it is, but if you have some sort of derisive comment to make, keep it to yourself.

The reason I bring up her post is because of a question she asked at the end of it: "Does this happen to anyone else?"

I'd like to say, "No." I really would. And if I forget about this one particular instance, I could say, "No."

But I can't forget that instance, see, because it involves a friend of mine from high school, one of my very best friends. She felt like a sister to me. It's about the week she fell ill and died, and I didn't know anything about it because I was out of the country, unreachable. Except that I did know. Sort of. Somehow.

I was on a trip to Canada with some friends in August about ten years ago. We went to the Stratford Festival of Canada, which I highly recommend. This town in Ontario has turned repertory theatre into the town's main business. From May to October, on three separate stages, they perform a variety of plays.  At least half of them are Shakespeare, but there's always a mix. Aside from all the Shakespeare, I've seen Anything Goes, Medea, Collected Stories, Elizabeth Rex (an original work by a local playwright), Tempest Toss'd, and Threepenny Opera. And that's just a sampling.

2000 was the first year I went. We were there to watch (among other things) Hamlet, performed by Paul Gross, a Canadian playwright/actor/musician/director/producer who'd risen to fame (mostly in Canada and Europe, though he has a following here) for his role in a TV series about a Mountie working at the Canadian Consulate in Chicago. The show was called "Due South," and my friend Maddie was tracking his career with professional interest. She would later go on to write her PhD dissertation about him.

The week we were there was the week around my friend Victoria's birthday. I had sent her present early, because I wanted to make sure she got it before I left the country--she lived in Kansas, I'm in Pennsylvania. I have never trusted the mail to get things where they're supposed to be in a timely manner and/or in the intended condition, which means when something arrives intact and on time, I am always pleasantly surprised. She had called me to thank me, and to wish me a happy birthday as well (I was thirteen days older than she). During the course of the conversation, she told me about something odd that had happened while she was driving home from work. Her leg started to hurt her, a lot. She said the pain was so intense, she screamed out at one point. Then, just as quickly as it started, it stopped. She thought it was a cramp. She only mentioned because it had happened that day, and her leg was a little achy still. The conversation drifted on to other topics. At one point I made her laugh so loud and so hard that her husband came up from the basement to see what was so funny. I have no memory of what I said, just the sound of her laugh.

Maddie, Barbara, and I spent a day or two in Toronto first, because all three of us love Toronto. We got to Stratford on a Monday evening. I know this because there are no plays on Monday. They build their week Tuesday through Saturday, Monday is their day of rest. It's also the day most of one group of tourists are replaced by the next one.

I'd say from about Tuesday onward, Victoria was on my mind. I'm sure this is partly because I thought she'd love what we were doing. I sent her a birthday card from there, telling her she definitely had to come here with me sometime, that she'd have a blast. She was a huge Shakespeare fan, loved theater and art and even opera (which I didn't develop a taste for until a couple of years ago), and I'm sure that an entire town whose main industry was a combination of tourism and theater would charm her the way it was charming me. And I dunno, partly I just couldn't get her out of my head. I kept seeing things and feeling like I was pointing them out to her. Which was silly, of course, because she was all the way over in Kansas, and I was up there in Ontario.

The day we drove back was a Saturday. It was the day after Vicki's birthday. It was a particularly long ride, because we took a wrong turn somewhere and almost wound up in the wrong part of the U.S. ("Guys?" I asked from the backseat, gazing out the window. "That sign says we're headed for Sault St. Marie. Isn't that in Michigan?" Screeee. One abrupt pull-over, consultation of maps, and U-turn later, and we were headed toward Buffalo. Only added 2 hours onto our travel time.), and I didn't get home until well after midnight.

I was dead tired. I seriously contemplated sleeping in my clothes. As I stumbled toward bed, something made me stop, go to the kitchen, and look at the answering machine. It used a blinking light instead of an LED number readout to alert you to messages. Steady light=no messages; flashing light= message: one flash for each message, then pause, then resume flashing. The light was steady. At least it looked steady. I could swear it had flickered for a moment, so I made myself look at it extra hard. Nope. I headed to bed. No message for me.

Yes there is.

I didn't hear that so much as I felt it. All right. I turned back around and looked again. Steady light. I looked for a very long time. No flashes, not the barest flicker of one. No message. Ignore that feeling. It's wrong. There is no message.


Around noon the next day I got a call from Brent, Vicki's husband. He'd never called me before about anything, not once, but instead of realizing something was up, I just greeted him cheerfully. I didn't hear, or more accurately didn't understand what he was saying, at least not right away. Here's the gist of it:

Sometime around the beginning of the previous week, Vicki started to have trouble breathing. Brent took her to the hospital, where they found she'd thrown a blood clot (remember the leg pain? I think that was the clot) that had wandered into one of her lungs. They got rid of it, kept her a couple days, and released her when they thought they had things under control (she'd been on my mind since Tuesday). Brent had been trying to call me all week, but had apparently written the number down wrong, because he couldn't get through until this morning (no message, but there was a message). The evening of the day she was released from the hospital, she threw another clot. She was having trouble breathing again, this time so severely that Brent called 911. She went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital, and they could not revive her. That was a day before her birthday, when I thought I was wandering around Stratford with her in my head. I think by the time I sent her that second birthday card she was already gone.

You know how in the movies when someone hears someone has died, they say, "That's not funny!" or "I just spoke to (or saw) him/her!" ? I always assumed that was for effect, and that it was an awful silly bit of dialogue. My first thought? That Brent was playing some horrible practical joke. The next? That she couldn't be dead. I'd just spoken to her a week ago. Brent told me that Vicki had wanted to make sure I was thanked for my birthday present. She'd forgotten she'd already done that (I was on her mind too). I made sure that I told him I had never seen her happier than when she was with him. It was true. Their brief history together had a bit of a turbulent start--her parents (well, her father) disliked Brent intensely, and for no reason anyone else could see except that it was threatening to break up their domestic arrangement. She wound up having to move out, because they gave her a "him or us" ultimatum and she chose him. They hadn't spoken in a few years. Brent called them when Vicki was in the hospital, and they came running. Thank goodness that got mended while it could.

I couldn't even go to the funeral. I'd just used up all my vacation time and my extra money on a trip to Canada. I couldn't fly to Kansas. Brent promised to call me with an address to send flowers to, but he forgot. When I called again a few days later, the funeral had already happened. I'd missed the whole thing.

That night I had a very vivid dream. I was in a very ornate room. The furniture was all Victorian, in reds and golds. In the middle of the room was an oval table, made of mahogany and topped in white marble. On the table sat a large hurricane lamp, ruby-red, with the light burning in it. Inside the lamp there was a goldfish swimming. I went to the table, blew out the light, took the top off and got the fish out. It lay there in my hand, perfectly content--not gasping or anything--while with the other hand I cleaned out the lamp and replaced it with fresh fuel and a new wick. I put the fish back in the lamp, and it went back to swimming around and around. I lit the lamp, put the shade back on, and left the room, taking one last look over my shoulder to the lamp on the table, where the fish was watching me. It looked like it was waving at me.

I woke up knowing that was about Victoria, but not having the faintest idea what it meant. I'm still not quite sure.

So anyway, what was that? Distress call from Kansas, followed by a visit from the dead? Or me thinking of a friend because her birthday was approaching, and not believing I could leave town for a week and not get a phone call the whole time I was away? I should point out that just about everyone knew I was away, and I sometimes go for weeks without an incoming phone call.

And while we're at it, can anyone interpret that dream?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dragging myself kicking and screaming into the 21st century

... alternate title: Vee just bought a Kindle.

Yes. I know. I'm pretty sure I said right here on this very blog (please don't make me go look) (oh, all right, it's over here) that if I got an e-reader it wouldn't be a Kindle, because of that now-you-see-it-now-you-don't trick they played with people who bought an e-copy of an edition 1984.

Well, apparently I lied.  'Cause I just took the 2 gift cards my parents and my sister gave me for my birthday (last Saturday. I'm 44 now. And yes, I still have to do math to figure out my age. The only years I know how old I am are the ones that end in "0."), and applied them to the purchase of a Kindle Fire and a leather case for said Kindle Fire that makes it look like some fancy leather-bound book. Squee. I hesitated a little about placing the order, mainly 'cause I wasn't up for a week playing "chase the UPS guy," but my colleague from work very kindly offered me the use of her address for the delivery. She has a stay-at-home Daddy who loves getting mail. Also, I was dithering a little bit about whether to get the Kindle Fire or the Kindle Keyboard. I wanted the Keyboard version without the sponsor ads (because, really? Ads? In a book?), which made it only $10 cheaper than the Fire, which is in color and can access Netflix and Pandora and all the rest of the Internet. The conversation in my head went something like this:

"Fire's only $10 more expensive."
"You don't need yet another device that connects you to the Internet."
"It's in color!"
"How many books that aren't written for children use color illustrations?"
"I can watch movies on it."
"You can do that on your laptop."
"It's more portable than the laptop. I could use that feature on bus rides to Mom & Dad's."
"Riiiight. Because you know signals are so clear on the winding mountain roads of upstate Pennsylvania."
"Well, to Ditter & Stretch's then."
"How often does that happen?"
"But Fire's only $10 more expensive!"

And so on.  Eventually the stricter side of me gave an exasperated sigh, threw up its hands and said, "Fine. Do what you want." Which of course I was going to do anyway.

In non-Kindle related news, I have been knitting up a storm (2 shawls, another pair of socks, more of those puffy hexagons) while participating in a little competition on Ravelry called the Ravellenic Games. It used to be called Ravelympics, until the USOC sent a cease and desist order regarding the name (yes, really. Don't get me started. Here, read this by Magpie Knitter. What she says pretty much covers my feelings on the topic. The USOC did try to apologize for the tone, and made a mess of that too.  In any event, we shrugged, changed the name, and carried on). It runs in conjunction with the Olympics, because it turns out a lot of people out there settle in to watch the competition with some knitting to hand.

The folks running the tournament made all sorts of events, and you could take your project and enter it into a bunch of events all at once, if it qualified for them.  Only rule was, it had to live its whole project life within the confines of the 2012 Summer Games. It couldn't be started before the Opening Ceremony (with 2 exceptions, one for works in progress, one for something you were planning to take apart), and must be finished by the end of the Closing Ceremonies, which are later today.

The Opening Ceremony, by the way, kicked butt. James Bond and the Queen? The factories coming up out of the ground to forge the 5 rings? Mr. Bean doing Chariots of Fire? The torch hand-off/coming together of the cauldron?  Loved it all. This is the first time I've ever tuned in for the opening ceremony, and I'm glad I did.

I entered one shawl in the Shawl Sailing and another in the Lace Longjump and Holiday Hurdles (for either holdiay themed projects or future holiday gifts), and have received my medals in all three events. I did a pair of socks that I entered in the Sock Put, the One Skein Sprint, and the Cable Steeplechase. I've medalled in two, and am awaiting the call to the podium for the third (Sock Put hasn't been called to the podium since I finished the socks. Should happen soon). Basically, if you finish, you get a medal. The only person you're really competing with is yourself.  I had entered two other events and have come to the conclusion that I'm not gonna make it. I entered a project into WIPs Wrestling (for works in progress) without thinking about why I set it aside in the first place. It's tedious--there's a great deal of counting and double-checking involved. If I'd figured that out sooner, I might have had more time to spend on the goal I set myself for the Modular Relay -- I wanted to do 50 puffy haxagons. I have 30. There is no way I'm going to get 20 more done by this evening.

Oh well. At least I accomplished some of what I set out to do, and I have a better idea of how long things actually take to get done.

And now I am off to write an email to JustMe, who sent me an email an embarassingly long time ago, and who I wrote to recently to assure her I wasn't ignoring her. I'm just scattered and forgetful and busy in fits and starts--the same reason I don't write here as often as I used to.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cookie! (Share it, maybe?)

Do you know that song that's all over the place right now, "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepson? The chorus is, "Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here's my number. Call me, maybe?" It has spawned a meme on the Internet, with everything from people lip-dubbing the song to business cards to things like the photo to the right. There's a whole explanation of the it over at Know Your Meme.

Apparently it's also spawned a few parodies. A Twitter-friend just sent me this yesterday.

Frankly, I like it better than the original song. But then, I'm a huge fan of both parodies and the muppets.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Knitwit, or, Life List no.73: Knit a pair of socks

So. Part of the reason I haven't been to terribly talkative on the blog lately is 'cause I haven't really had much to say. The rest of the reason? My hands have been otherwise engaged.

A few months ago, I found a pattern online for a really cute afghan called the Beekeeper's Quilt. It's from Tiny Owl Knits, and can be found here.  Go take a look, but then come back, okay?

Are you back? OK, good. Isn't that adorable? The individual hexagons (which have been named "hexapuffs" by some of the knitters on Ravelry) are very easy to do.  I took a bunch of sock yarn with me when I went to my parents' place for Easter, and came back 3 or 4 days later with this:

Holy Hexapuffs, Batman!
Yup. Did all that in one long weekend. I'd say there were probably around 25 in that picture, plus a cute little half a puff that you use to fill in the gaps at the edges. Added bonus: after watching me do these all weekend, my Mom wanted to learn how to do 'em. She later bought a copy of the pattern from Tiny Owl Knits, and the last time we talked about this project, she'd added her own special twist to it.  She doesn't like fiddling around with little bits, so she's making one long stuffed zigzag that will fit next to another zigzag, and she'll join them all together when she's done.

All those little hexagons in the picture are just a drop in the bucket, though. I think I need about 600 of 'em to make a decent-sized blanket.  I'll be doing this for a while.

While I was making them that weekend the thought started to percolate that perhaps, just perhaps, I was ready to tackle making a pair of socks. I'd tried a few times before and never got very far--either the join at the start was too loose and I couldn't find a way to tighten it up, or I developed "ladders"--funky gaps between stitches, usually where they met at either end of a double-pointed needle.  Well, the way around the join problem is to knit toe-up. And this pattern for hexagons showed me an easy cast-on that would work for toe-up socks.  So I found a simple toe-up sock pattern on the web (the first one on the page, called Lifestyle Toe Up socks)  bought some self-striping yarn, and off I went.

I took the first sock apart three times (at least) because I couldn't seem to get the ladders to go away. I checked a few places on line for help. Nothing seemed to work. I sent an email out to my Mom and sister, asking for their advice -- they are both very good at sock-making. Apparently my sister and I are on the same wavelength right now, because in the middle of writing this I went to read her blog, and she's just posted about her sock obsession. Anyway, Mom said that I'll stop making ladders the more I practice. Ditter says wear the socks once, wash them, and the ladders will disappear. I found the second piece of advice a little more reassuring. 'Cause frankly, if I make one pair of socks that look weird in places, I won't try making any more.

On my quest to get rid of the problem, I found videos on YouTube for how to knit with two circular needles. It was one person's way of getting rid of ladders, because you could snug the stitches right up against each other. Someone else suggested using the Magic Loop method, which was too much for me at the time. I thought I'd give the 2 circular needles thing a try. I was still getting ladders, but not as large, and there were only two of them. By the time I got to the second sock, I wasn't making them any more. Yay! And here's what I ended up with (on the left):

Stripey feet, FTW.
Gray lacy-ish sock.
Woo-hoo! There was a book sale going on at the site where I bought those needles, and I found some books of toe-up sock patterns while I was looking around. I decided to see if I could do this twice, so I dug around in my stash for some more yarn and made another pair, taken from a pattern in Socks a la Carte 2: Toes Up. They only had the pattern on the leg of the sock. I changed it so that I was working plain stockinette on the bottom of the foot and the pattern on the top of the foot, and then used the pattern the whole way around the leg, after I made the heel. This is what I got (above, on the right).

While I was working on the gray socks, I finally figured out how to use the Magic Loop method. I got myself a very long circular needle, and the socks I'm working on now are being worked that way. I'll post them when I'm done.  In any event, I do believe I can cross off ol' no.73 from the Life List. We'll take another stab at the sweater later on. I wound up taking the whole thing apart because I got mad at it. I have to make some sort of plan of attack for the sleeves before I get there next time, because the book is awfully vague when it comes to the sleeves. Mom agrees. She worked another sweater from the same book, and the instructions just seemed to fall apart when it got to talking about the sleeves. I don't understand it. The author was so detailed up to that point, then she just tailed off. I think perhaps I've gotten spoiled by the instructions at knitty.com.  Those patterns are all very informative and well-written. Maybe it's made me expect too much of other writers.

Well, that's enough yarn-talk for now. Time to get back to knitting.  And yes, I really am working with wool in this heat (it's supposed to come pretty close to 100 degrees here today), with no air-conditioning. I have fans running all over the house, with one aimed directly at me. I think we'll be okay. Sophie's upstairs on the bed, directly under the ceiling fan. While I'm thinking about it, I should probably go up and make sure I've turned that one all the way up. Though if she were uncomfortable, I'm sure I'd be told about it. She is not shy, my Sophie.

Sunday, July 01, 2012


About two weeks ago, the only locally owned and operated movie house/theater in my town reran a showing of the National Theatre (of London)'s broadcast of Frankenstein. It originally aired a year ago, and people liked it so much that they sent it out again. It was directed by Danny Boyle (the man who did Trainspotting, Shallow Grave, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millioniare -- apparently he started in theater before directing movies). It stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller as the Creature and Doctor Frankenstein.  Here's the first cool thing: both men play both parts. They switch roles nightly. The recording I saw had Benedict Cumberbatch as the Creature and Johnny Lee Miller as the Doctor, but I think I read somewhere that they recorded it the other way 'round too. Now I want to see that one, because I'd like to see what choices each made in playing the other role.

What struck me (and continues to strike me, two weeks later) is how relevant this story still is. It raises questions about whether we should meddle with nature, whether we should do things just because we can, and what responsibilities we have to the things we create. Also, it pointed out to me how we still react with fear to things we don't understand, and how that fear usually turns quite quickly to anger and violence. If the Creature hadn't looked so ghastly, he wouldn't have been treated so cruelly by everyone who laid eyes on him. And if he'd met with more kindness, he wouldn't have acted the way he did.  He said it himself in the play, when he speaks to Dr. Frankenstein of reading Paradise Lost: "I know I should identify with Adam, but it's Satan I feel closer to. Cast out of heaven for being himself." Or something like that. As I said, it's been two weeks, and I have no recording with me to go back to for the exact line.

I am also blown away that the story sprang from the mind of a girl of 19, living in a time and place when most women of her age and station were expected to sit quietly and embroider. Granted, she had an unusual upbringing and was surrounded by extraordinarily unconventional people. But can you just imagine if the rest of the women of that time had been given free rein to learn, to question, to write, to paint, generally to do what they wanted? How many more amazing things would we have to marvel at?

I think I need to go read the book, now. I want to make sure that everything I saw was from Mary Shelley, not just interpreted by a 21st century playwright.

Side note: I really like this trend of beaming live theater and opera worldwide. There are things I'd never get to see if they didn't do this. I would never have realized I do in fact like opera, now that they caption it so that I can read what's being sung.

Added later: I've found a trailer for the performance on YouTube. So you can see at least a little of what I saw.

Monday, June 18, 2012

To Relieve Some Anxiety

I have another post percolating about a play I saw on Friday.  I think I'll be writing it tomorrow. Well.  I've been writing it all weekend, in my head.  I'm going to try spilling my thoughts out on the blog tomorrow, to pick out what I really think.

I just popped in right now to relieve a little anxiety, I hope you don't mind.  I just sent a message to the Entire Library (all staff and faculty at all locations, state-wide), and it felt Very Very Weird.  Like, who the hell am I to bother everyone from the Dean on down?

It has to do with something that our team set in motion, it goes into effect the day after tomorrow, and I had to write and send the message because I'm Team Leader until June 30.  More on that later.  Oh, what the heck.  More on that now. 

The department head asked my team to start having a team leader.  Apparently, before Lana quit to stay home with her baby boy, she was sort of de facto team leader -- she took point on answering email, gave gentle nudges to us to get things done, that sort of thing. After she left, Bess kind of slipped into that role. When Bess retired I ... didn't.  Probably should have.  But you have to remember I spent about 15 years in a job where I got beaten down for taking any initiative, and the other member of our team? We rescued her from the same people.  So.  She and I did our impersonation of The Polite Twins* over answering email and our faculty member was so busy doing his own job that some of the messages just slipped past the bottom of his screen unanswered.

So.  Back in March we started having a rotating head (which always makes me think of Linda Blair.  Pea soup, anyone?).  And, partly because my last name was first alphabetically and partly because the other two were staring at me expectantly, I got to be first.  For four months. We all agreed that we should divide it into chunks rather than take care of a month a few times a year.  My time is up at the end of this month, tra-la, and then it will be Lindsay's turn.

Which reminds me, I still need to make a "Fearless Leader" sign.  I want it in Old English script, on parchment paper, in a gilt frame.  It'll pass from team member to team member as the job of Leader passes  on.  I can probably get the frame at Michael's, ditto on the paper.  I considered getting a toy whip and a doll's chair as well, but though that might be a skosh over the top.

So anyway, I wrote up that message about The Thing We're Starting, sent it to everyone I could possibly think of to vet it (if I'm being really honest, it was also a stall tactic to keep me from sending an Official Communication to Every Blasted Person in the Organziation and Why All of the Sudden Am I Capitalizing Everything?).  When I got no responses but "Looks good!" from just about everyone (the other people didn't answer) I realized I was going to have to bite the bullet and send it. Oh, that "send" button was hard to press.  I've been working for this organization for 20 years and have never sent a message to everyone before.  Never had a need to.  Nothing I had to say was ever that important. But! I did it. And then I strapped on my helmet and waited for fallout.  An hour later, not a peep from anyone except a colleague over at another campus who I used to work with in Hell, before she got a Masters in Library Science and beat feet out of there.  And she just emailed to say, "Hi!"

The above was written around 5 o'clock. Half an hour later, nothing continued to happen.  Then I went home.  I do believe I'm done stressing now, though I might be a little flinchy about opening my email client tomorrow morning.

Maybe I should start thinking on that other post.

I never did talk about the knitting, did I?  No, I can see that I didn't.  Well, there's another post to consider, isn't there.

*The Polite Twins were never born, because each kept insisting the other should go first: "After you."  "Oh, no, after you." "I couldn't possibly. Please, do go first...."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

That whooshing noise was April and May going by

Hiya! No, I did not get lost on the way to my parents' house. I just completely forgot that I have a blog.  

That, and I've been doing some knitting. Can't knit and type at the same time. Also? Not much has happened here lately. Haven't gone anywhere since the trip to the woods. Well. Work, sure, I've been there. Grocery store, craft store (see above, re: knitting), to the vet's (twice)...

Oh! There's something. The vet thinks that Sophie, who is probably only about three years old, needs her teeth cleaned. My knee-jerk (suppressed) response was, "Why? Somebody here have a car payment coming due?"

Because I am not made of money (and because the check from the IRS is in the bank, talking to itself, while I await further instructions and estimates regarding a possible family reunion in Iowa (which is beginning to look like it might not happen anyway)), I asked them how much this was going to cost. They gave me an itemized estimate and said that the price would be lower if it turns out they didn't need to take X-rays after looking at her teeth. It would be higher, though, if they had to do extractions. I think I understand how a car-owner must feel when they visit a mechanic. The quoted price? $386.  Oh, my giddy aunt.

I'm not convinced she needs this. Teeth-cleaning is something you do to older animals, isn't it?  Lolly never needed her teeth cleaned. Neither did my other cat.  I don't remember Needles, the cat we had when I was growing up, ever getting taken in for a teeth-cleaning.  The people at the vet's gave me a whole song and dance about inflammation of the gums and a missing tooth, and how things like this can eventually turn into heart disease if they're left unchecked (subtext: Do this or you're a Bad Mommy), so at first I bought into the whole deal.  But -- this is the kicker -- we were originally there to get Sophie her shots for the year. She's had this sneezy little cold that she just couldn't shake, so they put her on antibiotics for 10 days. No shots that visit because her immune system was fighting the cold. I made another appointment for a few weeks later.

Second appointment, vet checks the cat over again and mentions that the antibiotic seems to have cleared up whatever was wrong with the gums. She was quick to say, though, that the "underlying problem" could still be there.  Uh-huh. Or you want to separate me from my money.

I've decided it's time to vet shop. There's one much closer to me that I'm going to take Sophie to in a couple of months. I'm not going to say anything about anything. Though I might tell them that I'm vet-shopping. Let's see what they say about her teeth.

Next post: Knitting. I've been doing a lot of it, and I'm about to do some more.

Thursday, April 05, 2012



It's almost 4:25 AM. Heading to my parents' house for Easter soon. I should be in the shower, or packing, or something, but instead I'm fiddling around on the laptop. Thought I might as well drop in and say howdy, Happy Easter, all that stuff.

How are you?

Monday, March 19, 2012

You kids get off my lawn

I stayed home sick from work today. Which is why I saw one of the kids from a unit on the other end of the complex pick three hyacinths out of my flower bed: the best purple one, the best pink one, and the only white one.  Well, I saw her walk away with them in her hand, while her friend pedaled a bike alongside her.  Oh, I was furious.

"Hey!" I shrieked out the window. They turned around, but probably didn't see me. "Pick your own flowers! Leave mine alone!"  They sped off.

Well, of course they did.  Crazy disembodied voice screaming about flowers?  I'd get the heck outta there too.

Muttering, I changed out of pajamas.  I was going to give those little brats a piece of my mind.  I caught a look at myself in the bathroom mirror.  Yeah.  No.  Not looking like this.  I stopped and brushed my hair, still angry, taking it out on the tangles.

The rational voice in the back of my head was trying to get my attention. Don't go off half-cocked.  Think about this. Do you want to alienate your neighbors by reading their kid the Riot Act over three flowers?

Now just wait a minute, the angry part of my brain said.  I've been waiting for those things to bloom all month.  They're out two days and someone walks away with them?  Aw, hell-to-the-no.

When did I realize that flowers weren't public property? My rational mind asked.  I don't know.  I remember friends in college getting what-for from the gardening staff if they got caught snapping off flowering branches or picking daffodils, and we were in our late teens or twenties then.   And how old is this girl? Eight? Ten? She probably thought it was communal property, if she thought anything at all besides, "Ooooh, pretty," as she bent to take it.

I was calmer by the time I was presentable, but decided I still needed to talk to her.  I put my shoes on and went for a saunter outside.  She was skipping around down by the other units, holding my beautiful purple hyacinth in her hand.  Well, good, a little part of me said.  At least she hadn't torn it apart.  I wonder where the other two went.

"Hi,"  I said.  "May I speak to you for a moment?"

She stopped skipping and came to meet me.

"I'm pretty sure you just took that flower from my garden."  She looked down at her hand, then back up to me.  Her face had no trace of guilt, or of defensiveness.  If anything, there was surprise.  I felt my anger dissipate.

"Just so you know, any flowers you see in the grass?"  I spread my arms wide, indicating the lawn. "Those grow wild.  But the ones near the houses?  Those are usually put there on purpose by someone."

"Oh," she said."I'm sorry. I didn't know you planted this."

"I did.  Could you please not pick any more?"

She nodded.

"Thank you," I said.

"You're welcome."  I think she was relieved I wasn't going to demand she returned what she took.

"And I'm sorry I shouted before," I added, walking away. "It just really hurt my feelings that they were gone."

Then I went back to my house, hoping I wasn't about to get the reputation of being the mean lady on the end.  You know what, though?  If it keeps them from picking my flowers? Go ahead and think of me like that.  Just stay away from my flowerbed, dammit.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Useful (to me) video

I've been doing a lot of crafty-type stuff this week, since I've been parked on the couch with a foot in the air.  Most of it was embroidery, but the day before yesterday I knitted a cowl. I'm about to make another one.

I don't knit in the round very much, mainly because most of the time the place where I joined the stitches looks ghastly. I've been using a method that I learned from "Knitting for Dummies," whereby you cast on one extra stitch, transfer the last cast-on stitch to the needle next to the first cast-on stitch, then knit them together. Most of the time it leaves a funky gap that I just can't get rid of. I always thought I'd make more socks if I ever found a better way to join things.

Guess what?  I just did.  I tried starting the cowl and was disgusted with the join. Since I had the lap top open (listening to Middlemarch some more) I decided to take my problem to Google.  Here's what I found:

So simple! And works so very well. I am very grateful to whoever this woman is.  There's nothing to keep me from making socks now except my own inertia.

As soon as I finish the second cowl I'll show you both.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Helloooo 2012!

So, how was everyone's December? Sorry I disappeared there, right after Thanksgiving. I got all involved in gift-shopping and wrapping stuff.  Then my colleague retired and we had a party for her. Then there was more gift-shopping, gift-wrapping, gift-sending (to Virginia and California), cookie-baking, and bam! It was Christmas.

That's "bam!" literally, by the way. I woke up Christmas morning in the dark with a leg cramp. Just walking to the kitchen to get ice to put on it made it go away. That should have been the warning that things were not going to go my way that day. Did I heed said warning? No, I did not. Later on that day, while sitting in my sister's basement rec room and still in my jammies, I took a mouthful of coffee and choked on it--sort of. I tried to swallow at exactly the same moment my body decided to cough. Turned myself into a coffee fountain.  It made a mess of my clothes, so I went upstairs to change and throw things into the washer, which is kept out in the garage.

The floor of the garage is lower than the floor of the rest of the house.  It's too steep for a regular step, so to mitigate this some previous owner (or maybe the builder) put in a little step between the door sill and the garage floor. I've been in this house a number of times before and never had trouble remembering it was there. This time I missed it completely and went "bam!" right down. Actually, I'm not sure if I missed it, slipped, or only caught half of the step. It all happened very fast. I was talking over my shoulder to my Mom, with one hand on the door, when down I went.  Pulled the door shut behind me with extreme violence, slammed into the metal cabinet that was to the right of me, screamed out, "Son of a b!tch!" (but apparently no one heard that over all the other noise) and then just sat there on the floor, stunned.

Mom came to see why I'd slammed the door so hard and found me sitting on the step I'd missed, rubbing my right ankle. I asked for ice, which she went and got while I sat there listening to the memory of my voice screaming "Son of a b!tch!" It started me giggling (every time I remember it, I giggle again. I did just now, writing that). This turned into full-blown hysterical laughter, complete with tears. I'm glad my default reaction is to laugh in situations like this. My mom came back with the ice, and we both sat there: me laughing and icing my ankle, she rubbing my back and (probably) wondering if I needed an X-ray. It was mentioned a few times, but I decided against it. My sister loaned me an Ace bandage (which I'm still wearing), and I spent the rest of the day either hobbling around or sitting somewhere with my foot in the air. The next day we went to New Jersey to have lunch with my Dad's brother and his family, then on the 27th we all went home.

Here's what the ankle looked like two days later:

Souvenir of my Christmas trip. #ouch on Twitpic
Pretty, no? I think Crayola should make a crayon color called "Ouch, My Ankle!" (not pictured: other side of ankle, which looked pretty much the same as this)

Since then I've been (for the most part) hanging out on the couch with my foot in the air, either watching TV or listening to audiobooks while I embroider. Right now (well, not right now, obviously) I'm listening to Middlemarch, as read by Juliet Stevenson.  She's excellent. I did make a couple of excursions outdoors, mainly to get necessities (milk, coffee filters, lunch meat), or, once the ankle felt strong enough to use, to take myself to lunch on New Year's Eve.  I thought I'd better go out then, because the bus wouldn't be running on either the 1st or the 2nd of January and I really should see a person or two before holing up for a few days.  I was going to go out today as well, but they're calling for snow, with a wind chill of 0 or even -5, so I'm staying right here, thank-you-very-much. I might go to the mall tomorrow, mainly because I can (I'm off until next Monday) but also partly to buy calendars from the calendar-and-game kiosk that pops up every November and disappears by mid-January. I need two wall calendars. I never think to ask for them as Christmas presents.

So how was your December? And your New Year's Eve? Did anyone make any resolutions? I can't without breaking one a I made a long time ago never to make another new year's resolution. I have some things I'd like to do this year, but I'm not serious enough about them to be "resolved" to do them. I'd like to post more often than I have been. And I'd like this year to be "Handmade Christmas," since I kind of fizzled out last year around February. I ran out of ideas. I think I have a better handle on it now. We'll see.