Sunday, December 31, 2006

Last thoughts for 2006

I’m hitting the sparkling wine, people, so these are quite literally probably the very last coherent thoughts I’m going to have for the year.

They shall try to be worthy of their post.

This has been a wild year. A surreal one, really. I can’t really claim I’m all that sorry to see 2006 fading into the rearview mirror at this point.

It actually…kinda sucked. Not the worst year on record, but far from the best, either.

But I’m done whining about all the stuff that didn’t go as well as it could or should have. The cool thing about that past is that it’s past - it doesn’t have to define your future. You can have a rotten year or a bad experience, learn from it and then let it go.

This year, I went without much of a plan. Oh heck. I had no plan at all. My plan went something like this: Get to the weekend, do some laundry, and knit something.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

See, I had a ten year plan. However, I came to the end of it two years ago and, uh, well. Never really got around to, you know, deciding…what to do next.

Under that first plan, I got my Bachelor’s degree. I had four children. Cleared just over $90,000 in credit card and car loan debt. Tightened our credit report until we qualify for the tip-top loans. Invested like there was nothing but tomorrow in our retirement accounts. Learned how to work the stock market. Learned to cook like a Depression-era housewife. Figured out how to budget, and how to work within that budget. Worked like a crazy person, worked long hours and endured a long commute, toward having just exactly what I alternate between taking for granted and feeling guilty for having: a full-time telecommute position at full salary.

Not bad, huh? Not bad, in ten short years. Yay, me.

Something I want to do, as soon as I recover from the effects of my share of a bottle of sparkling wine, is put together a plan for the next ten years.

I suspect it will be…quite different. I’m not the same person I was, twelve years ago. I don’t have the same needs. I don’t have the same fears, or dreams.

I know it won’t be particularly deep or meaningful. I’m not that kind of person. My view of things is pathetically simple: I feel that my influence is like that of a pebble tossed into a pond. The largest rings are those closest to me; my greatest power is over myself, and then my family, and then my friends…my community…my county…my state…my country…my world.

But at the same time, what influence I may have is wasted if I’m paying for pizza delivery when I’ve got perfectly good food languishing in my pantry, or spending my time playing online bingo not because it makes me feel just ever-so-jolly but because I’m **sigh** bored.

However, that’s for tomorrow.

Tonight! Let’s be happy together, yes? Here’s to you, to each and every one of you! We made it through, ladies and gentlemen, we made it through! Richer or poorer, better or worse, we made it through to the end of this year!

To my crazy family, thank you for molding me into the person I am. I like me very much, and have you to thank for it. So I do. I love you all – I know you know, but still. I do. Outloud. In bright, vibrant purple.

To my friends, I love you all so very much. That other people, not bound by custom or blood-relation to give me the time of day, insist upon liking and even loving me, putting up with my weirdness, inviting me (and my Denizens) to your homes and even trusting me with your kids for playdates and weekends, astounds, delights and humbles me. Thank you.

And to those who read this blog for a good laugh, thanks. I love meeting you all through your comments and your blogs. Thanks for hanging out in my Den, and inviting me into yours. Take care of you and yours, and may we all have a very happy 2007!

SlĂ inte!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ancient Wisdom, Modern Application

So I was sitting around working on my personal goals for next year. Eat better (yeah, whatever), doodle, exercise (uh-huh, sure), doodle, organize the sock drawer once and for all (seems a little…mundane…), doodle…

I wanted something…more. Something that had less to do with the usual blather about losing weight or getting involved in the community, and more to do with grounding.

Something that spoke to the underlying commitment I have to my family and my Self; my need to serve those I love, the deep satisfaction I get from taking care of them, to celebrate the happiness I have in my marriage, to acknowledge that I’m a darned hard worker and awfully clever, come right down to it – that I have the power to do a great deal more than I’ve been doing, these last eleven months…

I’ve spent an awful lot of 2006 being selfish. Slacking. Letting things slide. Oh yeah, sure, I had my reasons – emphasis on had. The reasons themselves are largely gone, but they’ve left pretty sloppy habits behind.

I work as little as I can, and then retreat to my rocking chair to whine about how much is still left to do. I don’t plan, and then I’m surprised when things go awry. I don’t keep up the housework and then become upset when I’m sending Eldest digging through piles of clothing in search of an emergency pair of sock. Dinner plans are spotty at best. And the checkbook is in a state I really can’t talk about right now. Also, I have been eating cookies for dinner a lot lately.

Yes, I have.

No, I don’t want to talk about it.

I have been a very, very pathetic excuse for wife and mother this year. Don’t argue with me, people. I really have. I’ve done the barest minimum I could get away with, and the fallout is all around me in the form of clutter, frantic disorganization in the pantry, hungry children wearing odd, semi-clean clothing and credit card bills that are surprisingly higher than I expected them to be.

It was as I was sitting here asking myself how I could do better that a vague memory stirred. There was a poem, about a virtuous wife, or a noble wife, or something like that. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband too, he praises her…

Took me a while to find it, but find it I did: this is from the Christian Bible, book of Proverbs, 31:10-31:

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still dark; and provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.
She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable; and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom and dignity, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. 'Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.'
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her the reward she has earned and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

That’s it, that’s it exactly. As I read through this, the power of this woman strikes me. I don't see her sitting around saying, "Yes, dear, whatever you say, dear, what would I know, I'm just a little woman, dear..."

She's one who gets out there and gets the job done. She is a force to be reckoned with, a loving but passionate person, a canny business person, a tender mother, a supportive spouse.

She rocks. I want to be like that. I want to work not only hard, but smart. I want to go at it, and stay at it, and profit from it. I want to see opportunity and seize it.

I want to be generous to others, to give them a leg up where I can.

I want to know my children are well-fed, well-dressed, and can trust that their mommy is going to take care of things.

I want to be a good wife to my husband, which is really nothing more than returning what he gives to me. I couldn’t have a better husband if I ordered him from a custom catalog.

I want to be a person of noble character, one who can be relied upon; to earn the praise of my loved ones.

So there you are. My goal for 2007: live like a wife of noble character from somewhere around 900 BCE or so, fulfilling my own potential and taking joy in service, all at the same time.

If that doesn’t empower me to laugh at the days to come, I don’t know what will. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to pick out some wool and work with eager hands – I still have a couple gifts to finish…

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A 2007 Prediction

So there we were. Sitting. Watching television while our children frolicked around the house.

And then…slowly…I became aware that I was hearing a familiar tune being picked out on the piano. Familiar. Hmm. Why do I know this tune…?

I know it, dear friends, because it is the Rhapsody in Blue, by George Gershwin. Which my eight year old (!) is picking out on the piano (!!), because she suddenly remembered hearing it in ‘that movie, what was it, Fantastic 2000?’ (!!!) which we last watched SOME MONTHS AGO (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

And suddenly, I had a blast of Psychic Insight. Yes! I have a prediction! It’s coming to me…coming to me…my keen psychic powers are awakening…I am envisioning…yes, it is becoming clearer…clearer…cleeeeearer…

In 2007, I am going…to be writing…many checks…to…wait…yes, I see it quite clearly now…piano instructors!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Vote of No Confidence

So my husband and I were chatting this morning. This was my first mistake: Talking to him in the first place. And I said, “Hmm, I’d better hop online today and get the yarn for Niece 1 and Friend 1 and Friend 2 [all having babies in 2007] before the iron door closes.” (Note that this does not qualify as cheating exactly, because I have a shocking lack of baby yarn in my stash and am not going to give “hand wash / lay flat to dry” clothing and/or baby blankies to new mothers, because that would be evil.)

“Huh?” (He is very eloquent before his first cup of coffee, non?)

“You know. Knit from your stash 2007, the whole ‘not buying new yarn for a while’ thing, talked about it endlessly last week?” (Second mistake: Anything said to my husband with enthusiasm and/or repeatedly turns into ‘blah blah blah’ in his memory.)

“Oh. Yeah. That.” {Pause, sip of coffee} “So, what’s the deal with that, anyway? How long does it go on?”

“January 1 through September 30.”

{Spoooooooooooch!!} Coffee all over the playroom. He gazed at me in amused disbelief.

“Wait. Hold the phone. Stop right there. No buying yarn…until October?!”

“Yes. And I’ll thank you to stop laughing.”

{Chortles and snickers and outright wails of helpless laughter from my loving spouse. You see what I put up with?!}

“Oh, ha ha. {snicker} Ahem. Yes. Well. Now, honey.” {Here he assumes his Kindly Professor look, the one that says, I have forgotten more than you will ever know} “I think you and I both know that there is simply no way you are going to make it for nine whole months without buying yarn.”

“I can too! I totally can too.”

“Nope. Never make it.”

“{sputter!} Have you even seen how much yarn is in that office right now? {sputter, flail} Do you have any idea how much sock yarn I have?!”

“I’m just saying…”

“Huhn. Thanks for the support, dear!”

“Oh, I’ll support you once it starts. But this is just the announcement right now, and I’m making my prediction. You’ll never make it.”

Just to prove him wrong, I’m going to head to KnitPicks this morning and buy their entire stock of Swish, Merino Style and Elegance, thus ensuring that I will have absolutely no need whatsoever to purchase any yarn whatsoever for the next nine months.

Hmm. Nine months.

Probably better buy them out of Telemark, too…

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Revolving door of blessings

OK. So. For real: This was a great Christmas. Most of the Northern California family made it (one aunt and nephew decided to go to…wait for it…Colorado, to go skiing. Corker of a year to choose, eh?). I bought way too much prime rib (oooooh, the juicy succulence!) and it roasted to medium-rare perfection, my mother’s sides were, as always, delicious, and the black bottom pie was divine enough that even my Mutant Alien Children liked it. I had to arm-wrestle Captain Adventure for the last piece.

He won. Mostly by fighting dirty: He screwed up his little face and cried when he saw I was going to finish it off. Is that not dirty pool? I ask you…

The children stayed up late on Christmas Eve decorating cookies and discussing at great length what they were going to wear, eat, and do on Christmas. Cookies and milk were left for Santa. Mommy and Daddy, because they are stupid outside of all reason, got caught up in the How It’s Made marathon and didn’t get to bed until after midnight – imperiling the Santa visit with their wanton stay-up-too-lateness.

You know that you are an addict of both a show and a hobby when you are about to bring up warm milk for your exhausted toddler, but are brought to a sudden screeching halt because a ball of yarn is flashed on the screen, accompanied by the words, “Next on How It’s Made: Wool.”

{Riveted, undivided attention to the television screen for the next fifteen minutes. If someone had shouted “FIRE”, I think I would have replied, “INAMINUTE!!”}

The next morning at an extremely humane 8:30, Boo Bug opened our bedroom door and asked politely, “Can I go downstairs now?”

Apart from having brought way too much chocolate (see prior post, oooooooooh my head!), Santa brought some cool stuff. Eldest got a Real Sewing Machine, designed in a way that makes it all but impossible to get little fingers under the needle. Danger Mouse got a knitting machine. And Boo Bug got a loom on which she can weave a Real Belt (with a lot of help from mommy) (which here means, Mommy makes the belt and Boo Bug tells Grandma that she did it all by herself).

The biggest scream of the season came from Boo Bug upon opening her Easy Bake oven. Several cakes have already been produced. Some of them approximately the consistency of a brick. But they have all been consumed with great gusto, and sisters are envious.

Joy has no greater expression than a two year old boy with his very first train set – Captain Adventure played with it until all six of the AAA batteries were gasping their last. On the WalMart list: Case of AAA batteries.

Danger Mouse got her very own Game Boy and some (sneakily educational, bwa ha ha) games.

Eldest did not get any books to read and now I must report with some degree of gloating that she was upset about it; but mollified by the Blue Man Group keyboard. That thing rocks, people. Hours of entertainment. I might let the children play with it, too. Eventually.

As I was freaking out working in the kitchen, I looked up at my children. They had that glazed look a kid gets from sniffing new-toy plastic (same one I get from sniffing new minivan scent). Well-fed, well-dressed (or at least, could be if they wanted), showered with gifts and attention.

I paused for a moment in the midst of seasoning and stirring and rolling and yelping, “What happened to all those chocolate chips that were in here?!” to say a few grateful words to $DEITY. We have it good, here in the Den. We have it very, very good indeed. Not merely enough, but abundance. Everybody healthy, everybody happy, not a whole lot of drama and more than enough love to cushion the drama there is.

When I was a child, I remember loving and hating Christmas at the same time. My poor mother would go all freakazoid before holidays. Everything had to be Perfect™. The cleaning, the cooking, the pressing and dressing of the children…and she would go half out of her mind with it. She’d be snarling and snapping at my brother and me with the ‘clean the this’ and the ‘who put this here’ and ‘don’t you eat that, it’s for the party!’.

Somehow, as time passed, we learned to say, “Eh, whatever.” I only stress out moderately, compared to what my mother went through while we were young. Sure, yes, I admit it: I washed the walls on Christmas Eve day. A little Murphy’s Oil Soap in some warm water and a cheap cloth diaper was applied to the hand prints and dust and cobwebs festooning the walls upstairs and down. I also washed the cupboards throughout the Den and, in a brief flurry of energy, even did the baseboards downstairs.

I fretted over the pies and the roast. You’d think the fate of the world hung on what roast I picked from the butchers. Was this one fatty enough? Too fatty? Big enough? Probably too much…but it had just the right layer of fat across the top, so…SOLD!

But when I realized shortly before dinner was served (half an hour later than planned due to the roast’s stubborn refusal to reach 130 degrees in the center) that I had forgotten to make the dinner rolls, I said… “Eh. Whatever. There’s plenty of food, and plenty of starch.”

Nobody sniffed, nobody huffed or puffed, nobody said a word.

I know my mother felt the pressure of disapproval from the Eldest Generation. I don’t get that from any of them. Sure, I want things to be nice, I want to serve the best food and drink I can, and I want my Den to be a pleasant place to visit. I want people to linger, and I don’t want them to look at my kitchen and fear to eat what comes out of it.

But if there’s a splotch on the floor or one of the kids comes downstairs wearing pajama bottoms, striped tights and a floral t-shirt that she rescued from my rag bin, they just laugh. They don’t look at me as if to say, “What kind of mother are you” or whisper about it in that way some people have, where they say it just barely loud enough to ensure you hear them. They don’t take me aside to ask if I need, you know, help.

And they come back. Year after year, they come back. For Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for birthdays and parties and because they were in the neighborhood. They come to laugh with us, to eat my cooking and drink my (sometimes, er, intriguing) wine.

The revolving door is, in fact, in full swing right now. We had one family stay on their way up to Oregon. Another stayed on their way down to Los Angeles. Another is arriving in a couple days and will stay for a day or two before leaving again; a friend’s son will stay a whole week with us while his dad works between school terms.

They come back in spite of being confronted by mountains of laundry on the floor, being put on air beds in the middle of floors mounded high with backpacks full of homework and being awoken at 5:00 in the morning when we’re making coffee and sending one of us off to work.

It’s a joyful thing, having low maintenance friends and family. Every year it seems we add one or two more people to our list of friends and family who stop over with us, for a few hours or a few days.

I hope I can be that kind of family and friend, too.

The Morning After the Night Before

Uh. Could y’all quit reading so loud? Oooooooh, my head…

Yes. I overdid it. Not with booze. I had one half of one martini and a half a glass of red wine, that’s it.

It was the chocolate, people. The chocolate did me in. We always have a lot of the stuff lying around during the holiday season because instead of nice, low-calorie yarn, what do my friends and family want to get me for any and all occasions?


Mind you, I’m not complaining. There is a reason they get me chocolate, and it isn’t because they think it’s so funny to get me something I loathe.

However. In addition to the usual Chocolate of the Season, Santa apparently lost his ever-loving mind this year. There was nearly a pound of the stuff in each Denizen stocking on Christmas morning. As a reminder, there are four (4) Denizens in this house. And oddly, none of them are all that fond of chocolate. Yes, they like it. But they nibble it and say, “Oh that’s nice OOOOOOH! Are those stickers?!” and then the chocolate gets shoved under the sofa in favor of Strawberry Shortcake stickers and dinosaur puzzles.

Half of the world supply ended up on the kitchen counters in my Den.

Well. To be more specific, it ended up in my stomach.

Well. Actually. It’s probably already migrating to my hips.

I woke up with a pounding headache this morning, and I’m pretty sure it is a caffeine headache (with maybe a touch of lingering cold-related malaise). Caffeine that came mostly from chocolate.

I want you all to pause for a moment to consider just how much chocolate one must eat to achieve a caffeine headache from it.


I did.

And now, with my caffeine headache pounding away, I have to go to the bank. And the supermarket. And…WalMart.

Oooooooooooooh, the brutality of the Morning After the Night Before…

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Oh yes, slumber please!

Maybe it’s just the cold medicine talking (I’m about two seconds from taking a sick day, I swear!), but the Daily OM really set me thinking today with their article A Season Of Slumber: Winter .

In times past, the bare-limbed trees, long nights, and biting chill of winter signified to all that the time had come to slow down. Humanity emulated the animals, retreating into cozy dwellings where they sustained themselves on foods harvested late in autumn and passed the time in peaceful reflection.

Before the Denizens started coming along, I really did this kind of thing. As I’ve mentioned before, my business followed the agricultural calendar pretty closely – Spring and Summer were loaded with hard work (and paychecks!)…Fall brought an abrupt slowdown (fewer paychecks…), December brought a brief flurry of weddings and parties (paychecks!!), and then…Winter set in for real (no paychecks to speak of for three long months).

I’d spend my time from January to March puttering around. I read. I knitted. I worked on new music. January always brought the Ceremonial Restringing of the Harp, a day-long adventure in discovering just how many new strings could possibly break upon tightening out of a pack of 36, and a month-long journey into tuning and retuning and tuning yet again until she would hold her 440-ish A* for any length of time.

I seldom made any kind of real plans for my days, during the winter. I’d get up and, after sending my husband off into the cold, cruel world, I’d wander around for a while until something would grab my attention. Maybe the pantry shelves could use new contact paper. Maybe the sock drawer was a tad out of control. Costume embroidery to be done (or repaired). Leather pieces oiled. All of it done in a kind of luxurious slow-motion, without the rush and bother of other times of the year. I had nowhere to be in particular, so if I wanted to take a whole day sorting socks – eh, whatever. Party on.

I’d write pieces to submit to magazines; once in a blue moon, they were actually published. (Paycheck! YAY!)

But overall, it was a time to do…nothing of any particular urgency. Sit around with a cat on my lap, reading all the books my friends had told me about during the season when I had precisely no time at all for such frivolous pursuits.

It was a saner time, people.

Sometimes, I feel as though we try to pretend we aren’t part of this world any more. That we feel we should be able to ignore the weather outside, that we should take to heart the battle-cry of the postman: “Through rain, sleet, wind and snow, the postman always delivers!”

And the mom always gets the kids to ballet.
And the sales rep always mans his phones.
And the admin always files her invoices in neat, alphabetical order.

In a way, it’s just kind of how it has to be. File cabinets don’t harden up in the winter time, making it impossible to crack their shells and put invoices into them. Ballet class carries on in heated studios, safe from the wind and rain. People want to buy things even if there is a foot of snow on the ground (and hey, if you’ll deliver, they’re doubly interested). And the bills…well, they haven’t changed a bit. Still have no respect for weather, religion, or the psyche of Winter, irritating little beggars that they are.

But I love this:

“If your body articulates a desire to rest, give yourself permission to spend your free time reading, writing in your journal, daydreaming, engaging in artistic pursuits, playing board games, working a puzzle or meditating.”

Hey, there’s an idea. Be a part of the world, let our bodies work within its rhythms, not constantly try to be ‘above’ or ‘outside’ it. Animals don’t go out in blizzards. Why the heck do we? If an animal is exhausted, it quite sensibly takes a nap – what’s our problem, that we insist on pounding back caffeine and making our bodies go-go-go anyway?!

We humans insist that the world doesn’t shut down just because of a little snow (well, try telling the folks waiting at airport terminals that sometime), and that the world never stops, and so forth and so on…but actually, it does.

It’s the way of Nature. And we butt heads with Nature at our own peril.

I wonder how much of the “holiday depression” comes from our insistence on making every day just the same. In the summer, I go to work and come home in the light and honestly, I seldom feel all that blue; in the winter, darkness shrouds me and I quite easily become depressed by even tiny problems. I drive in the dark. I come home to a dark house. I know I have a yard out there, but darned if I could tell you what it looks like.

What would happen, I wonder, if we were to shift our working policies to meet the hours of sunlight? Even if it meant that you were working more hours in the summer…what if? What if we were to say, you go to work one hour after sunrise, and go home one hour before sunset? Sure, in the summer you might be working from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. – but that’s the nature of summer, isn’t it? Long, bright days, full of bright-sun energy?

And in the winter? Rise later, work shorter hours, come home to snuggle up in your Den with a warm cup of something. Relax and let the season renew you, like the seeds that see the transition from cold to warmth as their cue to spring out of the ground.

I wonder, I really do wonder, if we wouldn’t find we emerged from these dark, cold months renewed, excited by the possibilities of Spring, ready to take it all on again for the next nine months of sowing, growing, and reaping…

This is, of course, like wondering what would happen if we could stop seeing others by gender or race, or what it would be like if we could manage a society wherein each gave according to their ability and took according to their need, or if we could go to a flat Federal sales tax instead of an income tax, or if entertainment magazines would go out of business entirely if Bradjolina broke up. In practical terms, I’m sure employers would embrace the idea in the summer and then scream and cry and renege on the deal in the winter. There might be soda pop shortages due to the short working hours for Pepsi truck drivers, and gosh-almighty forbid the invoices might pile up on desks all across America.

But isn’t it a fun thing to ponder?

And wouldn’t it be kind of lovely?

* 440 refers to the cycles per second, or Hertz, of a note – 440 being the A above middle C the concertmaster will generally ask the oboist to sound for the collective tuning of the orchestra. Got that? There will be a quiz later…

Paperless Checking?!?!

ING Direct just launched a new product: Electric Orange. It’s a totally paperless checking account. That’s right, people. No Paper Checks. They even say in their FAQ, “Please don’t go and get checks from a third party provider – we won’t accept them.”

No paper statement, no paper checks, no paper anything. In fact! It is opened over the wire through an existing account (hence I cannot give you a link to the new product – you have to be logged into your account to see the details), so there isn’t even all that goo-gah you usually have when opening a checking account: “Sign here, here, initial, sign, initial, here, here, there, aaaaaaaand here!”


I’m just…well, I’m not sure about this. I say this as a person who has written less than five paper checks in the last twelve months: I’m not sure I’m ready to let go of paper checks. What about the babysitter? What about school deals, the three to five buck deals here or there? I never have precisely three one dollar bills in my wallet, not ever. Sure, they say you can have a paper check sent by first class mail to anyone you like…but that’s not the same as handing them a check right that very minute, you know?

Yet, the vast – overwhelming, even – majority of the checking account transactions I do are a) online or b) via debit card. I don’t carry my checkbook with me everywhere I go, and when I write a check I invariably spend a good thirty minutes sifting through my desk looking for the wretched thing. (My desk is a kind of space-time warp engine. I swear to Dog, I can spend an hour cleaning it off, get it all pristine and clear of detritus, walk into the kitchen for a cup of coffee and return to find it vanished beneath eighteen inches of paper, yarn balls, medicine bottles, knitting needles, computer cables and cat food samples. AND WE DON’T EVEN HAVE A CAT ANYMORE!!!)

They are tempting me with two things: instant transfer from my savings account, and 3% interest on my checking account money while it waits to be spent.

I operate on a monthly cycle in the Den. As we earn money, it goes into the savings account. Doesn’t matter what the source of the money is, it all goes into the savings account.

Once a month, the satellites link up and fire a set amount from the savings to the checking. This is a beautiful system, by the way, and can work even if you aren’t a month ahead of yourself, savings-wise. That’s actually how we got to this point: We don’t pay our bills based on our income, we pay them based on our budget. As we cut our budget and increased our income, viola! Savings! But that’s another long, involved blog entry for another day…

Since I migrated to higher interest at a different bank for the savings, it takes two to four days for the money to get from there to here, depending on how on the ball the receiving institution is. Every once in a blue moon, my receiving institution sprains its ankle and takes even longer to catch the ball. Hence, I tend to have to do my transfer well in advance of my need (read as, losing a few days interest I shouldn’t have to lose) and leave a buffer in the account at all times in case (see ‘losing interest’ gripe above).

Instant transfer would mean I could leave it at the higher rate longer; and I wouldn’t mind earning 3% on that money while it sat there waiting to be spent. Roughly half is gone within hours of transfer, but the other half just sort of languishes, being slowly whittled away.

But still…no checks? No checks at all? It all has to be done electronically?! That’s just…kinda…weird, man, weird! Kind of space-age, kind of like…people walking around in stark white clothing discussing Socrates while waiting for the hover-bus.

And yet, it appeals to me for that very reason.

We’re always yapping about reducing paper, trying to ‘save trees’ and environmental blah blah blah…and yet we cling to it. Like that coworker who prints out every single email she ever gets and refuses to ever throw one away, or the way we hold onto old bank statements and such decades longer than we strictly need do.

I may just go for this.

If I can pry my psyche off my checkbook.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I am NOT out of control

Look. I mean, sure. I enjoy a good Merino, perhaps a cup or two of cashmere here and there, and I have yet to meet an alpaca I didn’t like. But this does not make me an out of control loser, people!

I can stop purchasing yarn any time I want.

I just…don’t want to, right now.

Yarn really is my box of Twinkies. My guilty, sinful pleasure; my “hide in the closet and gorge myself” treat.

I began to realize that perhaps my stash was getting slightly on the largish-side a few months ago, after I ordered the yarn for the Family Sweaters (OK, and maybe I got a few little bits of other yarn for, you know, other…stuff…).

In due course, the UPS truck backed up to the house and dumped a refrigerator-sized box from KnitPicks onto our porch. Unfortunately, my husband was the first to reach it. “What’s this?” he muttered.

Then he read the shipping label.

And then…he looked at me.

People, you’d think my pimp had showed up with my meth, the way my husband looked at me.

“Where are you going to put all of this?” he asked coldly. Unfortunately, he had a very good point – my closet is crammed to the bursting point with yarn. I’ve gotten it all in there, all praise be unto the creator of Space Bags…but I’m rapidly becoming the Crazy Yarn Lady.

It’s time to do something about it, people. Before the Den disappears beneath a mound of brightly colored animal fiber.

While I shudder to think of the impact on KnitPick’s bottom line in 2007, I’m jumping on the Knit from Your Stash 2007 bandwagon. Here are the rules, reposted:

Knit From Your Stash 2007: Guidelines for Mother Chaos (modified slightly from the original, to remove excessive temptation and close some loopholes)

1. The Knit-From-Your-Stash-a-Thon will start January 1, 2007 and run through September 30, 2007 – a period of nine months.

Rushing to place an obscenely large order of random yarns with Webs, KnitPicks and Elann on December 31 shall constitute CHEATING.

2. We will not buy any yarn during that period, with the following exceptions:

2.a. If someone asks for a specific knitted gift that we really and truly do not have the yarn for, we may buy yarn to knit that gift.

Leaving groovy knitting patterns featuring yarns we do not currently have lying around in conspicuous places shall constitute CHEATING.

As will walking up to people and asking, “Saaaay, wouldn’t you just LOVE to have a cashmere wimple, hint-hint?”

2.b. If we are knitting something and run out of yarn, we may purchase enough to complete the project.

Starting a queen-sized afghan with the last few yards of purple Cascade 220 knowing full darn well it’s the last I’ve got shall constitute CHEATING!

3. We are allowed to receive gifts of yarn.

Screening this rule on a t-shirt along with some helpful URLs for yarn sources in large bold letters to wear to all gatherings of friends and family, making *ahem* noises and pointing at same constantly shall constitute CHEATING!

In my case, I’m afraid I have to remove the sock yarn exemption, because I have not one but two 11”h x 12”w x 15” d boxes not just filled but ruthlessly stuffed boxes full of sock yarn. Conservatively speaking, I’d say I have enough yarn to make about sixty pairs of adult socks.

The complete catalog is even more outrageous. Four such boxes loaded down with kitchen-towel type cotton. Several cones of good plain wool. Three more boxes with miscellaneous tidbits. Aaaaand a few shelves crammed with everything from alpaca to baby acrylic.

I also have to remove the ‘get out of jail free’ card. See example involving refrigerator-sized boxes of yarn being delivered, above. Even one purchase could be a purchase too many. Better to just hold out until September. Surely I’ll be able to do that, right?

Because I am not out of control.

Not, not, NOT.

And just to prove I really mean it? Look! This is stash yarn, being used!!

Girly Girl Sock

This is going to be a ‘Girly Girl’ sock, from Sock by Rita Buchanan. The stash being here consumed is Filatura Di Crosa Baby Zarina. It’s a superfine Merino, machine wash/dry, being knit up on #4 needles which feel huge! huge! huge! compared to my usual #1s. That’s two balls of languishing stash, heading home.

And yes. That is, in fact, yet another ball of sock yarn behind it. You see how unruly my stash has become? Now it’s escaping its boxes and congregating on my desk!

Yes. Knit from Your Stash 2007 is a very, very good idea indeed. I heartily endorse it.

Let me hear you say “…eh…”

Zzzzzzzzzz *snort!* Wha? What were we talking about?

We had houseguests who are going to try to make it to Portland today. That’s roughly 650 miles from here. They wanted to get up at 4:30. We wanted to get an early start on the day because we have errands to run over lunch. And the errands are going to take a while because we’ve got to go to the Dreaded Mall, the week before Christmas, because…well…uh…

People. I forgot to buy Christmas presents for Boo Bug. Go ahead, ask me how I managed to do that. Ask me how I managed to forget this adorable creature when indulging in the annual budget-buster ho-ho-ho jingle ka-ching! experience:

My little Boo Bug

Because! Her birthday was two weeks ago! So I went online on Black Friday, tappity-tappity, and I bought all kinds of presents! I made a list and checked it twice and forgot that she was “supposed” to get extra because DUH! HELLO!! Birthday + Christmas!!!!!

The kid has no idea how lucky she is. She was supposed to be born on Christmas Eve. Planned c-section and all that. But instead, she tried to arrive on a ferry halfway between San Francisco and Larkspur three weeks early. Crazy kid. But seriously, if she were born on Christmas Eve, she probably really would get stiffed on the birthday presents, you know?

Amazingly, the present-deficit didn’t occur to me when we wrapped her birthday presents. It didn’t hit me until we were sneaking around wrapping the Christmas presents. This and that for Eldest, this and that for Danger Mouse, this and that for Captain Adventure, thi-…uh, where are the this and that for Boo Bug?!


So getting up at 4:30 seemed like such a good idea…last night. Perhaps even a Just Punishment for my poor parenting skills. But this morning? Eh, not so much. We did it! Oh yes we did!! Got ourselves out of that nice, warm bed and downstairs to shake our poor guests so they could start their umpteen hour drive in a timely fashion, and got ourselves working right away, billing the old hours before the sun had wandered into the sky.

But we were gruuuuuumpy. We stood next to the coffee maker doing our version of bickering. (HE STARTED IT!!!!)

“Is the coffee going to be dark enough?”
“Yes.” {pause}
“Are you sure? Because it doesn’t look all that dark. It looks kind of weak.”
“I’m sure.” {pause}
“I’m just saying it doesn’t look that dark from over here.”
“So turn the light off. Then it’ll look darker.”
“…heh…” {silence while we stare at the pot, willing the coffee to brew faster}

I’ve got my annual Christmas Cold coming on, with the sniffly nose, sore throat and cough-upon-laughing. This is when I learn that I am way too easily amused, because I laugh approximately sixteen bazillion times per day, which now means that I cough approximately forty-eight bazillion times per day.

My sore throat is therefore rapidly upgrading from a mere sore throat to a Sore Throat of the Gods. Level 14 Sore Throat. This sore throat could take on an orc barehanded and send it whimpering home to Momma, people.

Oy vey.

The good news is, I think I got it from the children. Which means that they should be done coughing and sniffling by Christmas, and ready to get out of bed at 1:52 a.m. to see if Santa came yet. “MOMMY! DADDY! LOOKIT!!!!!!” “Can I eat this NOW?!” “Can we watch this video NOW?!” MOMMY DADDY MOMMY DADDY GET UP GET UP GET UP!!!

Fortunately, they are extra adorable when thoroughly delighted, which prevents me from actually stuffing any of them in the trunk of the car until they turn 18 and I can lock them out of the house for good.

Nature knows that we would ordinarily kill and eat something that woke us up at 1:52 in the morning with loud shrieks and unexpected !WHUMP! noises. So Nature made young children particularly adorable under these circumstances, thus ensuring that parents who would otherwise be off heating a skillet instead watch their offspring through red, loving eyes cooing, “Awwww, look how excited Junior is!”.

Good job, Nature.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Froooosty, the Snowmaaaaan!

Boo Bug is dancing around the kitchen right now singing that old Christmas favorite: “Fwosty the Snowman! Was a very nice young man! Wif a corn for ears an- an- an- he plays wif deers and two eyes made out of cold!!”

And then they wonder why I get next to nothing done during holiday breaks…

Monday, December 18, 2006

And they’re OFF!!!!

We went to Los Angeles this weekend for the First Official $HOLYDAY gathering.

Guess what we learned, ten minutes before we loaded the last thing into Homer before launching onto I-5 for our eight hour drive?

The DVD player in the new minivan is busted. It don’t work. It ain’t functional. There were to be no movies. No Baby Einstein, no Strawberry Shortcake, no Finding Nemo.

People, I almost aborted the mission.

And then I said to myself, I said, “Don’t be silly! My parents drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles, like, twice, without the aid of a rear DVD entertainment system. Ha! In fact, we didn’t even have air conditioning! HA! IN FACT!! I remember when you’d pass signs that said ‘last gas 50 miles!’, and then you’d have to push the car the last 45, barefoot, in the snow!”

It’ll be fine, I said.

No problem, I said.


You know, how my parents made that journey without killing one or both of us, I don’t know. Because I was about >>>>this<<<< close to at least turning around and smacking Boo Bug a good one.

It wasn’t that they were being awful, the way I remember my brother and I being awful. You know, smacking each other, taking each other’s stuff, claiming we didn’t, getting into slap-fests in the backseat and kicking the back of dad’s seat until he lost all patience (and my dad is a very patient man) and began randomly smacking any kid he could get a hand on.

It was just an awful lot of kid-ness, in a confined and not altogether Most Comfortable Ever space, for eight solid hours. I don’t care what the booster seat people may claim, I have yet to find a seat that my Denizens say is comfortable for more than an hour or so. Then again, I find very few seats comfortable for any length time either, so I guess I can see their point as the hours drag on.

It didn’t take long for me to start snarling, “If anybody asks me {where we’re going, why we’re going, whether or not they’re going to school today, if they can have a sucker, how long we’ve been driving, how much longer we’re going to be driving} even One. More. Time, that’s IT! I’m putting you on the ROOF RACK!!!”

I found myself pondering, as we passed Harris Ranch (famous for steaks, and the overpowering aroma of cow poop), how the pioneers managed to make their way via wagon train from one place to another. At roughly ten miles a day, it would have taken us forty days to get from here to there.

Forty days of “…and you know what? You know what else? Mommy? Did you hear me? I said {blah blah blather yadda blah blather}!”

And, “I’m going to throw up!”

And, “I need ta go POTTY!” (this always said about eight minutes after the last stop for same).

And, “I dropped my {pillow, dolly, blankie, Ming vase}!”

Not to mention the lovely moments when all four of them would, responding to some secret signal, all start yelling at once about different things. The sighting of a horse would meld with the realization that someone had left their priceless whatever behind, overwhelming the cry that vomit was impending and all of it overshadowed by a burst of wailing from the toddler that meant either his ears were popping from the mountainous terrain we were whipping through at a solid 75 MPH or that he had just loaded up that diaper with something nobody wanted to deal with at that particular time.

It’s no wonder the pioneers made the kids walk behind the wagons. Keep up or perish, kid. What? What’s that? Sorry kid, can’t hear you – the oxen walk kinda loud. Just keep up, OK? We’ll chat when we make camp…half an hour before bedtime.

The Denizens had a great time marauding with the cousins, mommy had a wonderful time drinking all her sister-in-law’s wine, and the husband got to take Eldest and Boo Bug to Disneyland. They shut the place down, people.

I finished two sets of those coaster from KnitPicks. Well. Finished the knitting part. I still need to felt and cut them. The people at the parties were almost as amused by them as I was. Well. Or, they were laughing at me, that’s entirely possible. Or even likely.

I also finished a pair of socks, which were promptly given away as part of the White Elephant gift exchange. And started a new pair of socks on the way back up.

And now we’re home.

Home, sweet home.

Back to work, back to play, back to the mess and the clutter. The normal crazy and chatter. The revolving door of friends and family traveling for the holidays. The cooking, the cleaning, the laundry.

Holy days and new (tax) year approaching.

It’s good to go, it’s good to be home.

I can’t wait to sleep in my own bed tonight. And, oddly, to get back to work tomorrow. I've had some ideas while I was away, on that and other fronts. Lots to ponder, lots to do, lots to play around with.

Time away is a good thing, people. A very good thing.

Friday, December 15, 2006

I am not worthy...but I AM jazzed!

You scored as Audrey Hepburn. Pure class and sophistication you can do anything with style. You have an intellegence and integrity that will get you anywhere. You can adapt your personality to your surroundings. Everyone looks to you for your style. Like Audrey, make sure you appreciate when the time comes to step out of the spotlight.

Which Classic Screen Goddess are you? (pics)
created with

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Oh no they DI’NT!

MyPoints just sent me a ‘free shipping + points’ offer for…wait for it…

Coldwater Creek

Pinch me, y’all!!!

I find my adoration of All Things Coldwater Creek somewhat sad. That I have likewise been a fan of Talbots (another, erm, ‘classic’ retailer) since I was in high school does not seem to make me feel any better about the fact that I adore a store which caters to…hmm…ladies who are…not twenty or anywhere near it, anymore.

But what I love about Coldwater Creek is that they are not an ‘old lady’ store. Oh look, Gladys, a lovely pink knit skirt suit, won’t that look nice with your support hose and faux pearls! (Uck.)

They have kicky colors and funky outfits…but they aren’t over the top. They aren’t things that I look at and snort, “Yeah, right, that’ll look fab-OO with my four-pregnancies-worth of belly skin hanging over the top!” (Sorry. I know. That’s a very tough visual to deal with. Believe me, I know. Try seeing it every time you take a shower…and have I mentioned in the last eight minutes that I truly loathe the new trend in having your pants only come halfway up your patookis?)

You can look very mature, or you can look like what I am, to wit, a person who may grow old eventually, but will never grow up.

The only problem I have with them is that they do That Thing, where they call something that used to be ‘large’ a ‘medium’, and what used to be ‘small’ is now ‘petite’. I know, we’re all getting bigger, blah blah blah. But it annoys me because I don’t know what size to buy. I bought a medium because hey – I’m medium. But no! Medium is way too big! And at first I celebrate because hey, this is a good thing, right? But then…the small was too big?

Coldwater Creek, I am not stupid. I see what you’re doing. You’re trying to make me feel like the Queen of the World because I can say, “Well, actually, I wear a size two!”

But it’s a damned lie. I do not wear a ‘real’ size two. In real terms, I wear a six with the occasional drop to four in slacks. Your calling what is really a six a two is deceitful, and it annoys me.

But not enough for me to stop shopping there. Oooooooh no. It does not annoy me that much. So maybe later today, I will stop by to admire the catalog and spend money in my head.

(And off she goes, humming If I Were a Rich Man from Fiddler on the Roof…)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


OK, I may be wet clear through to my bra, but at least I got some knitting finished! Look, it’s a sock!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Oh, how did I get soaked? Well, I am in the office today. Naturally, the one (1) day all month that I have cause to be here in town, with the requisite travel via two trains and a bus, it pours icy rain all over the Bay Area.

It is a matter of keen irony that I do not wear a hat. Seriously. How many hats have I knitted for other people through the years? I can whip out a hat in a single lazy Saturday afternoon. With cables! But do I own one? And, if I did, would I wear it?

Ha! Ha ha ha ha!

No. I am not intelligent enough for such things. I do not like to wear things on my head, so I stubbornly refuse to do so. And I don’t use an umbrella either, because I become irritated by the danged things throughout the day. To save myself from getting damp for three minutes as I scurry from one shelter to the next, I have to juggle a dripping wet umbrella for the rest of the day? And, moreover, I’ve got to figure out how to carry a latte, laptop case, and bagel while simultaneously keeping an open umbrella (which is, by the way, trying to pull me into the sky like a modern-day Mary Poppins) over my head in such a way that I neither put out the eyeballs of innocent pedestrians around me or permit rain to touch my scalp?


Not going to happen.

So, under most circumstances, I just take off my glasses and deal with the rain. It has to be raining really hard, or the walk from one shelter to the next has to be really far, before I will deign to use either of these most basic of human tools.

So this morning, as I stood on the shelter-less train platform waiting for Train #1 and heard the ‘we’re four minutes late this morning’ announcement, I realized that I was about to become a very, very wet person.

I accepted this, I think, with pretty good grace. See, I’ve been riding the rails (see how sophisticated a train rider I am? I say ‘riding the rails’, not ‘taking the train’, which is what tourists do) for eight long years now. The thing about real trains is, they teach you a certain patience. Most of us hard-core train-users are the same way. We can take all kinds of delays with good cheer and a certain “eh, it’s only time” attitude. As long as the conductor is cheerful and nobody disrespects the culture of the sleeper cars, we’re good. Because real trains do not take your coffee away from you, and this makes for a happy, contented lot who don’t care if it takes another ten minutes to get there. At eight sips a minute, that’s eighty more sips from the Thermos, people.

Real trains are kind to you that way.

BART is not a real train. BART takes away your coffee. BART is mean and also, in spite of taking away food and drink, filthy. This is because, when you outlaw food and drink, only outlaws will have food and drink. And they will cheerfully dump their banana peels and soda pop all over the floors and, yes, seats – because that is what outlaws do, people.

As we pulled into Station #2, where I pick up the bus to Train #2, the sky was producing raindrops so huge and copious that I think a hard hat might have been a good fashion accessory.

Whatever drying out I had done on the train evaporated by the time I got on the bus. Also, I stepped in a pond. Not a puddle. A pond. You could barely see the tips of the masts of the tallships that had wrecked in this thing, that’s how deep it was.


At least there was shelter on the BART platform. Of course, it being in the middle of the freeway, the water was not coming only from the sky – it was being flung up from either side by the traffic. My wool coat is an excellent shedder of moisture under normal circumstances, but it was no match for the combination of aerial and ground assault. Slowly but surely, the drops began worming their way through the tight-knit black wool…

People, I am wet. It is now three hours later, and my shoes are still squishing slightly when I walk from meeting to meeting.

And, in a further dose of irony, am I wearing Good Wool Socks? You know, the things I crank out in ridiculous quantity each year? The things for which I have two storage boxes worth of Good Wool Yarn on hand at all times? The thing pictured above, for cripes sake?

No, no I’m not. I’m wearing some elasticy-acrylicy things, whose inability to ward off even moderate weather (let alone a good dunking in a pond) is only exceeded by the looseness of the cuff – I have been hitching at my left sock like a nervous schoolgirl all day.

I have three pairs of Good Wool Socks in my dresser at home. That’s three clean pairs of Good Wool Socks I could have worn, but did not. No, I did not.

I wore these, the black acrylic monstrosities. These insults to the name of Sockness. These…elastic-challenged nightmares. And worse, I am remembering, now, as I hitch at that @*^&@ing left one yet again, that I knew the elastic had gone in these. I had meant to toss them in the trash, but apparently chose the laundry hamper and, suffering as I do from stupidity and a shocking lack of short-term recall, washed, folded, and put them away.

To wear again today.

In the rain.

People, there is only one conclusion to be drawn here.

I totally deserve to have cold, wet feet, and I hope I have learned something from this today.


What were we talking about again…?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Holiday Jeer

I am ready, oh so ever-lovin’ ready, for it to be January. I’m blaming the Saison Joyuex for all kinds of things right now. It seems as though I am encountering person after person after person who is just stressed out beyond all reason; and while I know intellectually that the holidays are not really the root cause of all the angst, hot holy carp on a stick, people!

It’s getting ugly out there.

In parking lots all over town, people are screaming at each other over spaces that are literally only a few car lengths apart.


Whoa. Uh, ma’am? Do you really want your preschooler to repeat what you just said?!?

In Old Navy today, there were three people in line ahead of me. Each and every one of them had a problem, from wanting to return clothes purchased months and months ago without a receipt to stubborn insistence that they had found the sweater on the rack marked 2 for $25 – never mind that everything else on that rack was a thin long-sleeved t-shirt, not a wool-blend sweater.

Each and every one of them behaved childishly, and that the kid behind the counter didn’t start smacking each and every one of them with a fish whacker is both a testament to his super-human patience, and proof positive that I am never, not ever, not under any circumstances in this world, fit to work retail.

Because me?

Fish whacker: It’s a good thing.

You want what? **WHACK!!** You’re calling me what? **WHACK!!** You wanna rephrase that, honey?!

Which is in and of itself, a symptom of the season. I’m usually pretty easy going. I’m easily able to allow someone else’s issues to be their own, and not go around borrowing them. Someone calling me stupid doesn’t make it so, someone shrieking that I’m a {beep} is really their own misfortune and I can just let them go off and reap what they have sown. I figure that their behavior creates it own punishment, and anything I might add is, well, superfluous. I can add no misery greater than a life spent angry and frustrated, peering over the fence at the skinnier, wealthier, happier, and otherwise in need of a good taking down people frolicking on the greener grass.

But this time of year, my sarcasm really steps up to the plate. As does my vocabulary. And I sometimes say things that are…most unfortunate. And unkind. And unworthy of my would-be enlightened, peaceful state.

It’s the holiday jeer, people. Coming soon, to a crowded place near you.

I suspect I have the same problem as everybody else. I have a kind of psychic overload going on, with too many things and thoughts and stuff and aw, crickets!...did I leave the tree lights on again?!

I have tried at least four times today to get ten crummy minutes of (relative) quiet, to meditate. I like to meditate. Just sit, in the quiet, without my knitting, to just be. To let things be what they are. To appreciate the life that I have. To enjoy the feeling of my lungs filling and emptying. To clear my mind. To flush out my bulls^^^ filter and decide, consciously and with great purpose, that I shall not go forth and kill anyone, today.

But oooooh no. This is the ho-ho-holiday season! Routines are disrupted. Even trying to grab a momentary peace is like trying to see your reflection in the surface of a pond during a hailstorm.

Work is calling. The kids are rustling. School schedules are whacky. People are coming and going around the Den to the point where I’m thinking of installing a revolving door. Can we drop Johnny and Susie off for two days? Can we stop on our way to Fresno? Can we stop again on our way back to Portland? Can we leave a kid with you while we go to Fresno? Did you remember a White Elephant gift? Honnnnneeeeeee, was this form supposed to go somewhere?!

Ay, carumba.

January can’t get here soon enough. Sadly, this season of giving, this time of drawing together to reaffirm familial and tribal bonds, right when the nights have gotten as long as they’re going to get and the hope of inevitable spring arises, hooray!, has become a season of stressing out those nearest to us to the breaking point.

We eat too much, work too much, fret too much, and otherwise create a Situation where we can’t manage to behave ourselves in private or public. We break down and become animals, pounding our chests and going ape-poop over even the smallest perceived threats to our status.

It’s silly. And yet, there it is. Sometimes, I think the best prayer I can offer up is, Please, $Deity, may we all make it through to January in one piece.

Bonus points if we can do it with class and charm, with love and laughter and light, loving ourselves and allowing it to just kind of spill out and over our fellow creatures. Just like anger and panic, love and laughter can pass like a virus from one person to another.

If we can just be big enough to allow ourselves to graciously, humbly, allow another person to be imperfect, not take it personally, be wealthy enough of spirit to give them what they think they need – the parking space or the place in line or the last box of Calming Chamomile Tea.

Ah yes. Those right there are major bonus points.

I’m going to try, I’m going to try with all my might, to rack up a few of those babies.

Although I’m pretty sure I’ll be weeks recovering from all the bite marks on my tongue…

Friday, December 08, 2006

My biggest snort of the day...

A friend forwarded an email which referred to these:

Maxi Pad Slippers

From the link (and the email I got):

Slippers for the descrete woman.
Soft and hygenic.
Non-slip grip strips on the soles.
Built in deodorant feature to keep feet smelling fresh.
No more bending over to mop up spills.
Disposable, biodegradable, and environmentally safe.
Comes in 3 convenient sizes: Regular, Light day, and SUPER Absorbant.

Oh my ever-living-DOG, people!! I may just have to make some of these…if I can stop laughing long enough…

Somebody stop me…

First, it was the Roomba. There are no words in the English language to describe the joy of vacuuming one room while kicking back knitting in another.

Then, it was a rice cooker. I love rice. I love it plain, I love it with butter, I love it cooked in chicken stock. Brown, white, wild, you name it. I despise making it, though. It always-always-always boils over or burns on me (possibly because I am easily distracted and tend to wander away while it is cooking). My rice cooker rocks the free world, because I can put the rice and water in there and walk away without another thought. It cooks and stays warm for hours, waiting for me to dump leftovers on top of it and pretend it’s a meal.

But now…people.

I think I need help. An Intervention or something. I am turning into a ‘getting something to do it while I do other things’ addict.

For lo, I have discovered…Safeway Web-Based Grocery Delivery.

Somebody stop me. I’m outta control!!!!!

OK, seriously? I got an email from MyPoints saying hey, they’d give me 1,000 points for ordering and free shipping blah blah blah and I said, “Well, what could it hurt? Free shipping and all…well. OK. I’ll give it a whirl.”

My time right now is precious beyond telling. I’m multitasking right immediately now, in fact, running procedures and so forth in the background, flipping back and forth from this screen to that. (Yes. At almost 9:00 at night, I am still working. **sigh**)

My children need baths. My own hair needs washing. A trip to WalMart would be very helpful for Denizen socks and tights and underwear. **sigh**

I’m not a big shopper. I don’t like it. I do not find it “fun” to go to the mall, and the very thought of hitting WalMart on a weekend will about give me hives. I buy as much as humanly possible online – the words ‘free shipping’ cause the same giddy emotion to rise in me that I suspect the mall-rats get from ‘No Sales Tax’ signs in the department stores.

The supermarket, though, doesn’t usually bother me all that much. Sure, I avoid the weekends and other times when my fellow man is out and about, because when people congregate in large numbers they tend to become stupid and self-absorbed, and this irritates me. I become increasing annoyed by such things as…people leaving their cart in the precise center of the aisle while they minutely examine the labels of canned tomatoes. Brand, or generic? Braaaaaaaand, or generrrrrrrrrric? Hmm, let’s memorize the freakin’ sodium content, shall we?! The screaming children, the weirdoes who want to talk to me at great length about nothing at all (how about them cereal boxes, anyway?), the getting all the way to the other end of the store and then realizing you forgot spaghetti sauce. @*^&@!!!

But this time of year those feelings intensify to the point of loathing.

By the time the fourth person crashes into me because they’re talking on their cell phone looking over their shoulder at their {friend, spouse, child, pickle-carrier} saying something like, “Granmaw says Davey don’t like argyle, I thought he liked argyle, didn’t you think he liked argyle, let’s go back to WalMart after this and check their argyle selection…”, I’m about ready to start burning Christmas trees down. The highest price they charge for delivery is $9.95, and I’m going to tell you what: Small. Price. To. Pay. And if you’re spending more than $150 (which, I blush to say, I can easily manage week after week after week), it’s $4.95.

For five bucks, I don’t hafta drive to the store, wander the aisles with a bunch of morons my fellow creatures, and then get home and discover I’ve forgotten the two things that made the trip absolutely, positively, without question necessary This Very Day?


Ship it.

But I digress.

I had a grocery list all made out, waiting for me to motivate myself to the store tonight. (Bah, humbug.) It took me less time to click through their site putting everything on the list into a virtual cart than it would have taken me to drive to the store. I stuck to my list tighter than a barnacle, because…well, duh. There was near zero temptation. And no wandering around endlessly looking for anything. Put it in the search bar and bang! There it is!

I picked a two hour delivery window, and then I went on with my day. And then…without warning (well, other than knowing he was supposed to be there between 3:00 and 5:00)…out of the gathering darkness of impending rain…He arrived.

If you are sensing invisible light streaming down from heaven and violins soaring in the background, you are correct.

He was young and strapping and handsome and very polite. And, more importantly, he took all my groceries into my house, set them gently on the table, asked me to make sure everything was there and in good condition, informed me with the tones of a right jolly young elf that no substitutions had been necessary and asked me to please sign here if all was in order and no, thank you, he was not permitted to take a tip, have a nice evening, ma’am…

And off he rode, into the sunset.

Leaving me to put the groceries into the fridge and get back to my Christmas knitting writing of queries and producing of reports.

Which I take very, very seriously and would never blow off for something as trivial as finishing a chenille washcloth.


I am a professional, people.

And also, I am in love with the Safeway delivery guy.

How can I not love a guy who brings me pearl barley and frozen apple juice, on sale for $1.25…?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

POW! Right in the kisser!!

A couple mornings ago while trying to get the resident Drama Queen (this would be Boo Bug) into her clothes, which were STINKY BAD AWFUL WHO WOULD BE CAUGHT DEAD IN THESE?! (with associated ‘I want to wear the pants Danger Mouse has on right now’ theatrics), we had an unfortunate meeting of her face with my knee.

NO. Not on purpose! I was pondering maybe a nice gentle backhand into the wall for being such a pill, but she saved me the trouble. I was trying to wrestle her into a turtleneck and she was fighting me like an octopus on PCP and just when I was expecting her to pull back away from me, she suddenly went spaghetti-legged forward just as I was pulling on the shirt trying to get it over her head and POW! Right in the kisser!!

Blood, screaming, carrying on, cold wet washcloths and cuddling, having to change out of the STINKY BAD AWFUL WHO WOULD BE CAUGHT DEAD IN THESE?! (with associated ‘I want to wear the pants Danger Mouse has on right now’ theatrics) clothes into EVEN WORSE IF YOU CAN IMAGINE THAT! ones due to watery-blood-spit.

Just. Shoot. Me. The guilt alone is unbearable. It doesn’t matter that it was an accident. It was my knee hitting her face and I felt positively evil.

At the time, I looked at it very carefully and said, “Ouch, but OK.” It looked like she had a small cut in her gums that would probably develop into some harmless swelling later. Harmless, but painful. (Guilt-guilt-guilt-guilt-guilt-guilt.)

But last night, I was looking at her little mouth and feeling…uneasy. Is this just a normal ‘I got a bruise on my gum and now its swelling’ swelling, or is this ‘my mother’s knee is so incredibly bony that I shattered the roots of my little tooth and will now require the services of an oral surgeon who will traumatize me so thoroughly that I will never voluntarily go to a dentist again and also charge more than the cost of two new minivans’? (Not that I have the cost of a new minivan on the brain right now or anything.)

Soooooooooooooo…this morning I called her dentist and made an appointment. I knocked off work at 12:00 to go pick her up and take her to the dentist.

She is fine, thank you. My first assessment was spot on: She has a nasty bruise, but no actual lasting damage. She is now delighting in showing everybody her ‘bahwooze’ and telling them my knee did it.

Isn’t that great?
“Oh goodness, little precious, however did that happen?”
“Mommy’s KNEE hit my FACE!!!”

…and then they look at me.

…and I attempt to look like something other than a monster who drives knees into precious little angelic-girl faces.

Which reminds me.

My knee?

OW!!! GEEZ! OY!!! Dang, but that kid has a hard head!

See, I can say that now, because she’s OK. Before, I couldn’t say anything because it was like…I don’t know…heartless or something…“Gee, it really hurt my kneecap when I broke my child’s face with it.”


That’ll leave a mark.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

One Gift Card Averted

OK, one person on my list is out of luck. I finished one of my Christmas projects. Behold, the Blue Shawl:

The Blue Shawl

This is the Stora Dimun shawl from Cheryl Oberle’s Folk Shawls book. It was the one that starts off with the dreaded instruction to cast on 449 stitches very loosely. And I am loving this blue, because it is one of those ‘bright, warm, cheerful’ colors. I washed it gently and blocked it even more gently, and it turned lovely-soft.

I am tempted to keep it. Only if I did, I’d have yet more Christmas knitting to get around to, so I’m just lying to myself and saying that I can make myself another one later.

It whipped out pretty darned fast, all things considered. The groovy thing about one of these styles, where you start off with the “oh my god, HOW MANY STITCHES?!” thing, is that as you’re getting near the end, you’re flying. I got through the last fifty rows so fast I was almost shedding tears of gratitude.

Because I’ve got a whole lot more knitting to do. I have…two pairs of lacy socks. One pair of funky socks. Three pairs of “just plain” socks. One whispy-wafty scarfy thing (laceweight…argh…). A few sets of the cotton chenille flower washcloths from Weekend Knitting (there’s a picture of one here – roll over the pink blur).

Let’s see. Five ‘suitable for cool young men’ hats, one ‘righteous’ hat for eight year old male, one wee pink shawl for a wee little girl, four sets of hats and mittens for girl-children.

I’d also like to whump out some of those Fair Isle coasters from KnitPicks because they just amuse the socks off me, and while I’m at it I’d rather like a pair of wrist / forearm warmers for myself made out of the warmest wool I can dig out of my stash. I don’t care if they look utterly and completely dorky. My hands are cold, and I dislike this.

Meanwhile, back at the Den, I still ‘need’ to finish Eldest’s sweater, and then start on the one for my Freakishly Long Armed Spouse. Who has informed me that I must make a matching one for myself because it would be, and I quote, “cute”.

That I do not do “cute” means nothing to this man. He thinks we should go around in matching hand-knit sweaters.

Oh, ack.

Well. Must dash. There are only twenty more knitting days until Christmas…and yes, I’m counting both today AND Christmas Day itself…

PSA: 401k Limit Increases in 2007

This is your official Public Service Announcement: The Federal limit on 401k deductions is increased from $15,000 to $15,500 in 2007. Check your plan! See if you can be doing a little more!

Remember: Nobody can screw up social security better than the American Congress and $DEITY help us, the generation in charge of our retirement will be even more self-absorbed than this one!! And sick of “carrying” all the baby boomers and, uh, the rest of us. So act now to CYA, or don’t come crying to me that you don’t like the taste of the new, improved Purina!

Plan for the worst and be pleasantly surprised, that’s my fiscal motto.

I would also like to remind everybody that when you do a 401k deduction from your paycheck, your tax savings are immediate. So, putting $250 into your 401k does not mean you have $250 less from your paycheck – depending on your situation, it may be as little as half that lost from your net.

Go to Paycheck City, play around with it using your own actual situation. You may be surprised just how much you can save.

No 401k but you are working, you’ve got up to $4,000 to your IRA ($4,500 if you’re over 50). Doesn’t go up this year, darn the luck, but does go to $5,000 in 2008. Reduces taxable income, woo hoo, but you have to wait until Tax Time for the benefit, feh.

If you are married and not working but your spouse is, two words: Spousal IRA. This is up to $4,000 in tax deductible savings for those under 50, $4,500 for those over. Check it out. Again, reduces taxable income at Tax Time.

OK. There you go. That’s my retirement planning pep talk for the day. Party on, y’all.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Latest Addition to the Den of Chaos


It’s here.

In the driveway.

2007 Honda Odyssey.

We have dubbed it Homer.

Yes. We are that dorky.

After lengthy (two years worth) discussions, test driving and other freaking out, we finally went and bought the thing tonight.

Amazing how two years worth of longing, discussions and working through the numbers will suddenly become, “Sign here, here, there, here, initial, initial, and heeeeeere’s your key!!”

We got a better-than-expected trade-in for the old van. And I sniffled like a great big old baby. I do that. I get very attached to my vehicles. Please see ‘that dorky’ comment above. I will be taking Tylenol PM tonight, because otherwise I will be up all stinkin’ night with the oh my god what did I just DO?! feelings.

Farewell, Behemoth. You served us so very well. Thank you for getting us There and Back Again, safely, so many times. 127,305 miles, baby, and next to zero major repairs. I hate to let you go.

{{sniffle}} {calls self dork again, tells self to suck it up already}


We went with the EX-L model, in silver with a darker leather interior (leather, ooooh, aaaaaah). We chose it over the Touring version for two reasons: $5,000, and eight seats. The touring ‘only’ seats seven. (Hey – when you’re a family of six, one crummy extra seat can become important.) We decided that over the next ten-fifteen years or so, we will be happier about the eighth seat than having an integrated GPS and rear-view camera thingee.

We got the rear DVD entertainment system – duh. While I don’t use it for ‘going to the supermarket’, it saves our bacon on those six hour plus drives to Grandma’s house.

We got heated front seats. My arthritic hip thanks me very much already for that. :)

It has the side curtain air bags, working seat belts (this is a great upgrade, IMHO), roll-cage reinforcement, anti-skidding traction detection thingees and upgraded steering / braking.

It also has more storage…listen. I’m going to tell you something right now. The engineer responsible for the Odyssey minivan?

Has. Children.

I’m serious. There is an incredible amount of storage in this thing. That was what edged it out over the Toyota Sienna for us – the fact that we could tuck away all manner of diapers, goldfish crackers, apple juice boxes and whatnot, within reach! But…not just any reach. Wee little fingers can’t get at it, so I won’t be hearing a sudden ‘crunch crunch crunch’ from the backseat half an hour before dinner.

It came with a six CD changer, dual climate control (what? I think 82 is a perfectly reasonable winter-time setting…), power front seats and sliding doors. I have entertained myself mightily already using the remote. Hee hee – open the left door. Close it. Open the right door. Open the left door…CLOSE BOTH OF THEM!!!!

BWA-HAHAHAHAHA! Hee hee. Snort.


Hours of entertainment. (See dorky references, above.)

There are things I still need to get used to. When the engine revs down, it turns on an ‘ECO’ light on the dash. This is apparently needed for people who don’t ‘feel’ their engine or something, who can’t just tell that the engine just dropped into an optimum cruising range for fuel efficiency. When it first came on I shrieked, “What is that light? That green light? Right there on the DASH?! What does it mean?!”

There are more buttons and whatnots for opening this, that and the other…and sometimes this button works, but if the locks are on or this other thing is off or something else isn’t just so, it doesn’t do anything but emit a high-pitched beeeeeeeeeeeep (which is apparently Homer’s way of saying, “Hey. Twit. Unlock the doors first.”)

It’s very exciting. It’s been a long, long time coming, and now that it’s here…well. I’m not sure I entirely believe the reality of it. (Ha. Just wait for the first car payment, babe, it’ll all be very, very real at that point…)

Welcome, Homer. I hope you’ll be happy hauling the Denizens from hither to yon for the next ten to fifteen years. We’ll try to take good care of you, see to it that spills on your seats and carpet are cleaned up more or less promptly and that you get all your oil changes and so forth on schedule.

Now please…stop beeping at me when I push the buttons. I understand simple refusal to work, I don’t need the high pitched whine added to the equation.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Living this life of mine

I have some lovely clothes. There is, for example, a lovely blue shirt with blue and pearl beads. A soft velour skirt in a warm dark chocolate color. Sassy slacks and the soft as a dream white angora sweater.

I never wear them. Because they were expensive, or because they require dry cleaning, or like that.

I have actual silverware. As in, made of silver. Which I never use, not even for holidays; mostly because I forget all about it until right before the doorbell rings and then I don’t want to risk discovering tarnish right in fronts of my guests.

And, I have been skipping dessert a lot lately. Telling myself, firmly, that Coldstone is not a good place for a quick lunch, and that adding strawberries to a cake does not make it a ‘fruit and vegetable’ serving.

I became rather philosophical one afternoon as I was lacing up my rather, erm, well-loved tennis shoes instead of slipping on one of my dressier pumps, and I said to myself, “Why is that? What do I think I’m saving these for, exactly? One should go forth and live! Use the good silver, wear the favorite shirt, eat dessert first once in a while! You must live this life of yours, my dear, live it!”

This is what I said to myself on Tuesday.

By Saturday, I had a sink full of silver that needed careful polishing with chemicals that simultaneously demanded gloves due to harshness, yet made the process a hazard while wearing same; my feet were aching from a full day in dressy pumps, and a certain Situation had arisen around those sassy slacks of mine, to wit, they appeared to have shrunk in the laundry hamper, probably due to cheesecake fumes (which have that effect on clothing); and speaking of the laundry hamper…a large tub’s worth of articles requiring hand washing (which my new washer does handle splendidly, woo hoo) followed by various methods of drying: line, flat, folded up in a towel, spread across a towel, hand-fluffed by monks using pure, imported Tibetan air.


You know what I love about stainless steel, machine wash/dry clothing and salad? They permit me to go forth and live this life of mine, without the drama of a clothesline, without the agony of silver polish, without having to face up to the fact that I am no longer twenty-something and that even looking at a double-sized slice of cheesecake will add three pant sizes to my hips.