Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Just when I thought it was an all bad kinda day…


Today has pretty much totally sucked, right out the gate. I had a slightly too marvelous time with the kids this morning, which means we dawdled a bit on the whole drop-off thing, which meant that it took me half an hour longer to get back to work this morning. Which doesn’t sound like much, but somehow threw off my groove for the whole day.

Then, I had my status meeting with the boss, and learned shortly thereafter that I had done a boo-boo, which here means, used the wrong table and, naturally, sent the results out.

{slaps forehead as hard as possible}

It’s things like that which make staying at home baking cookies and whining about the laundry oh-so-appetizing.

And then I had an utterly unproductive morning, followed by a painful dentist appointment, in turn followed by a haircut that is best described as ‘eh’ – about the best I can really say about it is that at least my bangs are now not completely covering my eyeballs.

So. I’ve got that going for me. May look like a drowned rat otherwise, but at least I am a clear-eyed drowned rat.

The afternoon has been frustrating and now I’ve got two (2) meetings tomorrow and someone else is emailing me about something else entirely and I just really don’t wanna deal with it and suddenly I’m remembering that I still need to take the trash out and put something together for dinner and why did I think I wanted to go back to work?!?!

I decided that, before I did something really stupid (like shoot back an email that says, “why the %*@& do you think I care, asshat?!” to the nice really-not-an-asshat-but-bugging-me-on-the-wrong-day guy who doesn’t know I don’t care and can’t be expected to care and aren’t PAID ENOUGH TO CARE), I’d better come up for air. So I walked out and got my mail.

In it was my PG&E bill.

My PG&E bill is not normally the kind of thing that makes me happy. Oh no. Quite the opposite. My ongoing war with PG&E is very well documented.

Those of you not blessed with PG&E for your gas and electric service may not know about their current incentive. If you can cut your gas usage by 10% between January 1 and March 31, you’ll get a 20% rebate on all your gas charges for that same period.

I will confess that I have been largely ignoring this incentive, because they ran a similar one for electricity over this summer, and I sweat and panted and hated life trying to cut down our electricity usage and didn’t make it. It pissed me off, and I resolved to simply ignore PG&E and their stupid incentive programs, because they are obviously designed for people who customarily set their air conditioners to 69 during the summer, who could shave 20% off their usage merely by going to 71.

But I looked at the back of my bill today and noticed that we’ve decreased our usage by 23% so far. We’re halfway through the program, things are warming up out there and we don’t need the heater as much and we’re already down by 23%.

Hot. Dog.

By my calculations, we should be getting somewhere in the neighborhood of $75 back.

Doesn’t exactly make up for the ‘eh’ haircut, but throw in a martini (or two) and it just might be an OK day after all.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

As the Closing Ceremony music swells...

…this is where I have ended these Olympic Games:



That would be…one half of one sleeve done. I’m one and a half sleeves, a neckline, and ‘finishing’ (the darning in of loose ends, the light steaming, shaping and five days worth of drying time part) short of a finished project.

So, obviously – I didn’t make it. I didn’t make it by a long shot. And it will probably take me a month to make as much progress as I made in sixteen days of concerted effort – I’m not going to try to take this on the trains with me to work on. It’s too big, too heavy, and waaaaaaaaay too awkward at this point to be trying to do while swaying and bumping and trying not to impale the person next to me, especially since I’m using all those double-pointed needles for the sleeves. I’m reverting to socks and baby outfits and such-like for my on-the-go projects. Starting with a shawl and hat combo out of a deep red alpaca to a) keep my ears warm and b) dress up a pretty solemn black wool coat of mine.

Like any athlete, I have gone back over my performance in excruciating detail, and have isolated several areas where I could have done better. Time I wasted by missing directions, rookie moves that had to be torn out and reknit, the fact that I turn into a pumpkin at 10:00 and, no matter how much I may want to stay up and knit (and watch ice skaters) longer, I just can’t. I’ve criticized everything from my yarn choice to my knitting technique to the pattern itself – it’s a long sweater. Very long. Like, middle-of-the-thigh long. **sigh** Longer than I had thought, which added an entire day’s worth of knitting I wasn’t expecting.

Oh well. I’m disappointed that I didn’t make it. I really hoped I could do it, and I just couldn’t.

But at the same time...

I feel a lot like the kids who went to the Olympics. You know, the ones who were about, oh, eight years old (OK, so, probably more like 16-17), who got out there and were just full of energy and jumped all over the place and fell on their behinds and leapt up and kept going, and in the end the judges said things like, “Well, the inexperience really showed but it was a very nice effort and I’m sure a great learning experience for her, and she’ll be working on this for next time and I’m sure we’ll see Great Things from her in Vancouver…”

A lot of false starts, mistakes, tearing out, having to learn new techniques, doing them wrong, coming back at them, wasting time and yarn and everything else. Also, I have gone through more bandaids in the last couple days than I have in the month before that. At last count, I had one on my left thumb and forefinger, and one on my right index and middle finger. Wool burns. Gotta love ‘em.

But I learned a lot in undertaking this challenge. And oh, it was so worth doing. I’ve loved this pattern for over a decade, but have always thought it was ‘beyond’ me. Along with a few dozen other patterns by this and a few other designers – I love many of the Fair Isle-style sweaters, but…I’ve always shied away from them on the theory that they were ‘too hard’ or would take too long, or {insert excuse here}.

Yes, it’s been a challenge (hoo boy, has it been a challenge). The steeks were a helluva learning experience for me (now that I’ve done one, I’m laughing my arse off at myself every time I think about how I thought they were supposed to be done). The Fair Isle technique was likewise new, and after much cussing and hand-cramping I finally got the hang of holding both yarns in one hand and using a simple dip of my wrist to choose which one hooked around the needle. Sweet. And I used another new technique to graft the shoulders together (thank you, Nancie Wiseman) and I’ve got to say: it’s probably the sexiest shoulder seam I’ve ever done. It doesn’t look like a seam, and has no ‘lump’ under it – it looks like I knit the whole thing right up over the shoulder. Double sweet.

I was pouting over my unfinished sweater this afternoon when it suddenly hit me: I’m going to finish it.

Sure, not ‘in time’, but…I’m going to finish it.

It’s going to be beautiful. I haven’t ruined it with my rush. I’ve done it right.

I can so totally handle the Fair Isle sweater, steeks and all. I don’t have to fear a Fair Isle knitting pattern, ever again.

It’s worth every bandaid, every weird meal eaten over the sink in a deadly rush so I could get back to my knitting, even the unnatural obsession with how much yarn, precisely, was going into each of these rounds, because I’ve only got 10 balls of the black and if I use up more than one ball per 3.5” of knitting, I’m in trooooooouble…

I’ll post a picture of it when it’s done. I promise. It won’t be hard to remember. I think I’m going to be ridiculously proud of this bad boy when it’s all finished up…

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Memorandum

Dear Nitwit:

When filling out your timesheet, please remember that you add ‘12’ to get the military time. You do not simply put a ‘1’ in front of the number and leave it at that.

For example, 3:30 is not 13:30. 13:30 would be 1:30. Putting 13:30 instead of 15:30 will result in your timesheet reflecting a deficit of two hours you can’t explain to yourself, which in turn will mean you will sit at your desk wondering what happened to the lovely short day you were hoping for today, after two days with significant overtime.

Thank you for your immediate attention to the above.

Science v. Religion


I often hear religious pundits lamenting how science is destroying religion. “Our faith in God,” they shriek. “Is being destroyed by all this scientific reasoning!”

I have proof that they are wrong. Dead wrong.

I used a branch of the sciences called “math” this morning, and it has deepened my relationship with the Almighty. This math went something like this:

It takes me 15 minutes to knit a round on this confounded sweater. I get approximately 0.3 centimeters per round, and need to get 19 more centimeters before I begin the neck shaping. Ergo, I have approximately 63 more rounds before I even get to the neck, or 15.75 hours of knitting.

I then have 35 rounds to do the neck shaping and shoulders, another 8.75 hours of knitting, for a total of 24.5 hours before I finish the body.

It was at this point that science began to encourage religion, as I muttered, “Oh. My. GOD!”

Undaunted, I moved on. Let’s see. Sleeves, half the stitches and decreasing steadily but with the added challenge of having to pick them up and keep track of decreases plus a repeat of the more difficult spiral pattern at the cuff, we’ll call it 7 minutes per round, 112 rounds, divide by 60 blah blah blah, I’ve got 13 hours per sleeve and I need {pauses to count own arms} two. That’s 26 more hours.

Then we have the finishing of the neck in rib, another 1.5 hours. And then there’s the cutting of the steaks, the seaming, stitching, darning and damning of the finished sweater and I’m looking at roughly 55 hours left to go on this project.

My religious leanings are becoming downright fanatical at this point.

Checking my calendar, I note that I have today, tomorrow, Saturday and half of Sunday. And damn it, I’m supposed to work today and tomorrow. Today I’m working from home, which ironically is worse for my having time to knit – I’ve got to do all the kid stuff and making dinner stuff during the times when I’d usually be sitting on a nice, quiet(ish) train. Tomorrow I’ll have about six hours on assorted trains; seven if I take the earliest train out and the latest train home and then also take an actual lunch hour instead of my customary ‘eat lunch crouched over my keyboard like a feral cat’.

Let’s see. How to fit 55 hours of knitting, a certain percentage of which must be done at home where I have access to all my sewing tools and a nice, wide table, into basically one twenty-four hour period, to wit, Saturday?

“Hey, God! Hi. How ya doing? It’s me, Tama. Yeah, been a while. Um, listen, I was wondering…could you do me a little favor? Could you, like, perform a localized miracle for me, bend time and space and give me 55 hours in the next, say, twelve?”

There you have it. Science breeds religion. And I have every belief that God will, in fact, come through for me on this one.

And here are some pictures. Progress!



And, one of the steeks!! And no, I didn’t get wasted on Burly Fox chardonnay last night (much) and knit an earring into the sweater by mistake – that’s a stitch marker. A faaaaaaaaaaancy one. When I reach the stitch marker, I know I’ve completed another round.



So. If you notice any weirdness in the next few days, such as, say, 55 hours of daylight on Saturday? Don't panic. It's just God taking care of things for me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Disaster was averted


OK, these are my first steeks. I know I’ve said that at least {counts on fingers} {removes shoes and socks, counts on toes} {glares at gawking coworker} {gives up and guesses} five hundred thousand billion times by now.

But…disaster was avoided by a margin of approximately one quarter of one half of a centimeter.

OK. So. I had pieced together pretty impressively wrong directions on how to do the conflabbed steeks. These are the things that happen when you’re assembling your how-to from old books and the Internet.

I’m down in the breakroom cheerfully casting on my steeks in the green yarn, right? And as I’m going I’m thinking, Gee, this…just…doesn’t feel right…

I tell myself firmly to keep the mental chatter down. It will all become clear, I say to myself, in a moment, when I’ve finished the casting on the steeks.

Only it doesn’t become clear. It becomes only the more muddied.

I don’t see how this alternate color isn’t going to show. The destructions clearly state: “In alt. color, cast on 6 stitches – the first five are steek stitches and the sixth the edge stitch.” But I’m looking at this and I’m thinking that there is simply no way that I’m going to end up with that green yarn not peeking out in some way or other. Hmm. And the other instructions I had found in one of my ancient books of knitting lore had been pretty vague on that point – all they had said was to make sure the alt. colors were easy to spot for ease of cutting. Tack down to the wrong side, they said, but…how to keep that easy to spot color from being spotted inappropriately after said tacking down? Hmmmmmm…

I also don’t see how I’m supposed to do the alternate color thing from a technical point of view, on account of because, see, the alternate color looks like maybe it’s supposed to be Intarsia, but that doesn’t work because it ends on the side and…hmm…so how to get the yarn from there back to here, and, but if I’m supposed to break off and rejoin the yarn, well, in what way is that cool and fast, which is the whole (alleged) purpose of steeks?

And, finally, I just don’t see how I’m supposed to cut this open without cutting open the stranded yarn. I mean, the whole idea here is that I can continue knitting in the round and then just cut open these steeks for the armhole. So, if I’ve got stranded yarn that I’ve got to individually cut open and tack down, each damned one of them, see, what I’m not getting is…

How the {bleep} is that supposed to work? Huh? Huh? HUH?!

So I stopped. I backed away. I thought to myself, Self! This really doesn’t seem right. We’re going to investigate a little further, because so help me Dog if I screw this up, I will just have to give up knitting and the Internet and go into hiding somewhere in Aruba.

Tempting as hiding out in Aruba for the rest of my life sounds right about now, I opted to dig a little deeper. I snuck back to my desk, hunkered down and snarled “LUNCH! Go ‘way!!” at anybody who came near me clutching pieces of paper with lines and circles and large red letters which read, “WTF?! – ask Tama to research this ASAP!” on them.

I bashed around the Internet marveling at the number of people who whine or gush at great length about steeks without actually talking at all about how to do them until finally…I found what I was looking for.

It isn’t an alternate color. It’s alternating colors. I take the black and white, and I do a little checkerboard with them. That’s my steek. Then I’m going to put a firm row of stitches up along either side of the midpoint and cut between it. Alternating same colors as the rest of the sweater thank you colors.

Like this. I warn you, this is an even geekier knitting site than my blog is turning into. Lord. What happened to talking about my kids and finances?

Well, we’ll come back to those after I finish this @*^&@(^*@&^(*&@&^!!*&^@ing sweater. I promise. There are way more than enough knitting blogs in the world where people fixate on such faaaaaaaaaaaascinating things as whether you should increase by making a backward loop on the needle or picking up between two stitches or by using an P-Gaelic (not to be confused with the Q-Gaelic, which would probably end up causing somebody’s sheep to develop ingrown toenails or something if attempted under these conditions) incantation while jumping up and down on one food stark nekkid in your backyard during a lunar eclipse waving a 6x6 inch woolen gauge swatch frantically over your head.

But I and only I have the Denizens to keep me endlessly frustrated, amused, delighted and sometimes downright panicky, and a peculiar fixation on Things Regarding Domestic Finance. In real life, they’re a lot more interesting to me than my knitting.

However…at the moment…I’m digressing. Again.

Anyway.

Fortunately.

I hadn’t done anything too wild and crazy to work around the implausibility of the way I was attempting to do these things. I’d stopped the moment what I thought was clear turned out to be Mississippi mud.

Whew.

Whew, whew, whew.

Unfortunately, I’ve already used my lunch (half) hour on the wrong way, so I will indeed have to pick up the pieces on the train. Which may mean picking them up while smooshed against the wall by a giant or while trying to tell the nice lady next to me that NO, IT IS NOT A FREAKIN’ PURSE, WILL YOU STOP ASKING ME IF IT IS A PURSE!

I’m serious. I have been asked by not one, not two, not three, but four – FOUR! –people in the last three days if what I’m making is a purse. I’m starting to wonder if maybe WalMart has put out a knitted purse kit or something that everybody’s auntie is making, because there is this weird knitted purse fixation in the Bay Area right now.

But, undaunted and vastly relieved at the aversion of near catastrophe, I carry on! Only one more hour (or so) of work-work, and then I can get back to the important business of My First Steeks.

Have I mentioned that these are my first steeks? I have? Really?

…oh…

Yet more knitting blather


I have reached a significant milestone this morning. It is time {dramatic pause} to place the steek stitches.

This is so momentous an occasion that I may even take a lunch (half) hour today so that I can sit in the lunchroom and cuss at cry over concentrate on my project for half an hour while I place the steek stitches.

What I've got to do is very straightforward – so naturally, it terrifies me. It's like paying the bills. Bill paying does not involve hard math. It is, in fact, easy math. The kind of math that really should be so basic to my nature as to be laughable. Ha! Bills! Ha ha! But instead, every month I have this Period of Terror, a few hours of heart-pounding worry while I go through the Handle-It-Handle-It (pronounced: Hanel-eet-hanel-eet) Drawer shrieking in horror at the sheer volume of the bills therein, and the lack of volume in the ‘deposit’ row of the checkbook. This is also the time of month when I make wild promises about how I will not spend another cent, not one red cent!!, on anything that can’t be eaten until May 15, 2066.

But I digress.

The steeks are really very simple. Very, very simple. See, all you do is, break off the yarn you’re currently using and add in a contrasting yarn. It won’t show in the end, and it should be something you will find easy to see / count stitches on. I’ve chosen leftover dark green wool that I used to make a sweater for Eldest earlier this year. I chose it because it is kind of ‘sticky’, like the Merino I’m using for the actual sweater. I have this theory (oh dear, another Tama Theory) that stickier yarn will be better because it won’t be as likely to go whipping off on me when Cutting Time comes.

So I’m supposed to cast on six stitches and rejoin my working black and white yarns; work half of the round, cast on another twelve steek stitches in the lovely sticky green, and then work the rest of the round, casting on the other six steek stitches at the end and viola – I have steek stitches.

Then you merrily knit around and around and around for another 19 centimeters, knitting the steeks in the contrasting color, then add more steek stitches for the neck, and blah blah blah you get to the end of it, run a row of stitches to hold things together, and then you cut open the steek stitches and stitch or crochet down their ends, pick up the sleeves from around the steeks and knit them down to the cuffs and somehow, magically, it turns into a sweater than can be worn.

By a human. Worn, by a human. A human with two arms in roughly a normal spot.

Right.

Not to whine or anything (she said, promptly whining), but have I mentioned that I have a cold? Oh yes! I’ve got a cold. I didn’t feel this crappy at 4:30, when I was applying my war paint; nor did I feel this crappy at 5:30, when I was motoring out my driveway heading for the train station.

But by 6:08, when the train was merrily chugging its way into the hills and the entire sleeper car was ready to throttle the lady behind me for asking endless questions about what I was knitting exactly (“…oh, really, a sweater? Because I thought it looked like it might be a purse, you know, those purses people are knitting these days? Because I thought the bottom was seamed or something, couldn’t you seam it and make it a purse?”), I suddenly realized that my entire forehead from the bridge of my nose to my hairline felt as though it were planning to explode all over the train car. Don’t ask me how it could have gotten that bad “sneakily”, but it did.

After a moment’s reflection, I realized that not only were my sinuses pounding, but so was my back.

And of course, the moment my back got its moment in the limelight, the rest of my body began chiming in.

By the time I got to BART an hour later, I was a snarling ball of sniffling misery. Anyway, thank Dawg I had a package of Kleenex in my laptop case; also, I would like to give a big thank-you shout out to Costco, for carrying Ricola in the warehouse-sized cartons.

All of which is leading up to the fact that, on my lunch hour, I am going to be KUI – Knitting Under the Influence…of Aleve Cold medicine.

Tune in tomorrow, sports fans, for the long and sobbing explanation of how I managed to knit a bottom into my sweater, so now it is the Olympic Purse…

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Knitting for a Queen


OK, so, I bought a knitting kit some years ago. By ‘some years ago’ I mean, “When dinosaurs roamed the earth.” Seriously. This thing has been at the bottom of the craft closet for the last, oh, five-six years. At least. And I just cleaned out the closet (in preparation for Stitches), and there it was, and I said to myself, “Hmm, I remember this…”

The pattern was (badly) photocopied out of a book – which is another rant altogether about yarn stores who think it’s perfectly OK to sell you a kit and say that it comes with ‘free’ pattern and then they STEAL the pattern out of a book. I don’t mind paying for the book, if it comes to that. I’m not poverty-stricken enough to think it’s OK to rob the designer of his/her royalties for his/her brilliance.

But that’s another rant for another day.

Anyway, on this photocopy, the picture was crummy and, wouldn’t-ja-know-it, the bottom paragraph had been cut off. Damn. But wait! What was this? Was this the name of the book it came from? Miracle of miracles, the yarn store lady had written it on the top of the photocopy: Knits for All Seasons by Jean Moss! Sweet!!

Hot dog. So I rush online and I find a copy of the book (which was a bit of a trick due to it having gone out of print) and I order it.

It arrived today, and I was stunned at what it was I was trying to make (hey, it’s been five years [or so], I’ve utterly forgotten how this thing was supposed to end up looking). And I rushed out online again to see if I could find a picture to share with you, which I did, and now I will: May Queen, by Jean Moss. Well, this picture actually kind of sucks. You should see it in the book. {swoon!} But you get the idea.

It will remain one of the enduring sorrows of my life that this kit is for up to a size 4.

My smallest girl now wears a size 5. By the time I finish knitting this thing, she’ll probably be a size 12.

Fortunately…I have friends with infant daughters. I should be able to finish it before they hit Size 4.

And if I don’t…there’s always granddaughters. Grand-nieces. Grand-friend’s-daughters.

Whatever.

Don’t care, as long as I get pictures…!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Day Eleven: Pride Goeth Before Much Cussing

Well, here’s the awful truth:




Those of you with either incredibly keen eyesight or a damned good optometrist will note that the progress made here is measured in centimeters. About ten of them, to be exact. Ten centimeters. That’s how far I’ve gotten in the last three days.

It would have been more like eighteen centimeters, but, funny story there. Ha ha. Yes. Very funny.

See, what happened was, I was so sure that I knew this pattern, and felt just ever-so-smug about my new and improved stranding techniques (which is cool, but I’ll boast about that sometime when I’m not busy kicking myself) and was sitting there almost at the end of the first leg of train ride this morning complimenting myself for the progress I had made when…suddenly…I realized…

I was off my pattern.

I wasn’t where I thought I was, and hadn’t been for two whole rounds. I now had this weird funky line where no funky line was supposed to be.

Let us draw the G-rating curtain over what I actually muttered and sanitize it down to “Gosh darn it all to heck!”

I tried to repair it by un-knitting the erroneous stitches only and drawing up the correct color from the stranding. No go – too tight, looked stupid. I thought about simply going back later (much later) with a tapestry needle and stitching over the mistakes, which is how I’ve repaired a much smaller problem a few rows earlier on. But even I recognized that attempting this on 560 stitches over two rounds was, well, stupid.

No. There is nothing else for it. I have to tink (un-knit) two whole rounds and start them over.

Many, many, many words were muttered that shall not be repeated here for fear that my mother or grandmother might actually stop by for a virtual visit, followed by a physical visit and the ceremonial rinsing of the mouth with Lifebuoy.

So. The entire commute today was spent first knitting two rounds, and then unknitting two rounds. Net result: zero progress, over a two hour period.

{obscenity of choice here}

Undaunted, I look at my work in progress and I say, “Welllllllllll…no, I’m not giving up on this yet! I think I still might be able to make it…”

Reality has nothing to do with it. The fact that I haven’t even yet reached the placing of the steek yarn means nothing! The fact that I am only about halfway done with the main body and have not yet even contemplating the sleeves, of which I need not one but two, means nothing! The fact that I also have to figure out how to do said sleeves, given the whole steek thing, and have no idea how long it may take me - means nothing!!

Well, it means something.

I have a horrible, sinking feeling that I’m not going to finish this in time. I’ll finish it, and I’ll finish it soon, but whether or not I can finish it before the torch flickers out in Torino…is another matter.

In cosmic terms, that’s a big old ‘so what’. Who cares, really? It isn’t as though the eyes of the nation are glued to this blog or anything. No children anywhere in the world are going to perish if I don’t get this done, nobody is going to lose a million dollars (at least, I hope not – you guys aren’t betting on this in Vegas or anything, are you?!), I’m not going to lose my job or really much of anything.

I’m even just kind of impressed that I’ve gotten this far this fast, frankly. I’m even more impressed that I haven’t started in on another project, like, say, the baby hat I’m planning to knit up out of some Lorna’s Laces Angel for my daughter’s kindergarten teacher.

Not to mention the sock yarn I got from Lisa Souza (hand dyed, uber-cool), or the beautiful red alpaca that will make a perfect and dramatic narrow shawl to go over my elegant but rather dark black wool coat, or the black alpaca that has been waiting for a project in my closet and then I found this Really Cool™ shawl pin that said to me, “Hey! First, buy me! Then, knit up a lacy shawl to put me on!”

I never argue with inanimate objects when they speak to me. Mostly because when I do, people stare at me and move slowly away.

But I digress.

Will I finish it? Hmm. The drama mounts. I want to; for some reason, it has achieved a kind of importance. I’m not sure what I’m proving, to myself or anyone else.

Maybe that I do, too, have the ability to stick with one thing from beginning to end without getting distracted, or moving on to something else. That I don’t have a serious and crippling case of ADD and need medication to function.

Or maybe it’s just that I’m afraid if I don’t rush through this, if I don’t stick to the schedule, I’m going to put it down and never pick it up again. It’s a beautiful thing that Alice Starmore has designed, and it is an honor to be able to attempt it.

It would be even more of an honor to be able to wear it, and to say: “It’s a Starmore, and yes – I made it myself.”

I pushed my envelope, stretched my abilities in both skill and speed, and got it done in Olympic fashion.

That would be something I’d be proud of.

Right up until one of the kids came rushing over and covered me in chocolate-faced snuggles…

Friday, February 17, 2006

In Stitches

Your faithful correspondent is writing to you LIVE from the beautiful Santa Clara Hilton, conveniently located across from the Santa Clara convention center, where the annual Stitches knitting convention is underway.

Woo hoo! Yippee! And other assorted noises of wool-induced bliss!!

The Knitting Olympics have definitely taken something of a backseat. I had an all day class today, with a two hour lunch break. Sure, I could have spent most of that time knitting on my Olympic project, but instead I went to lunch and then um, well. I may have gone into the yarn market. Just purely to, uh, see if…they had…um…coffee. Yes. That’s it. Because the five coffee stands outside the marketplace and the coffee machine in my room and the free coffee offered to class attendees right outside the classroom were, uh, not…coffee-ish enough.

How the $60 (!) in hand-dyed sock yarn got into that bag I was carrying, I have no idea. None. Somebody paid for it and their signature looks an awful lot like mine, but it wasn’t me. (Curse you, Lisa Souza Knitwear! I could resist all the prefab sock yarns, but you just HAD to throw in some vivid hand-dyed bits of soft superwash deliciousness…)

And I must say – it is both nice and a little alarming to be among so many knitters. We are all talkers! I swear to Dog, we can collectively outtalk Congress! We’ve never met a stranger and we just talk-talk-talk-talk-talk.

Whew. I’m exhausted from all the chatting. But having a marvelous time. I’ve met more splendidly nice ladies today than I think I’ve met in the last several months – if not years.

My class today was in Finishing. Now, my finishing work has bugged me for years. It isn’t exactly bad, but I’ve always felt it was a pretty far cry from good. Today, Nancie Wiseman taught us how to make invisible seams, sexy buttonholes, tubular cast-ons and cast-offs and a few other choice tidbits of amazingly cool stuff.

It was frightening how cool we all found this to be.

My swatch was made with white yarn. I used a dark brown yarn for contrast when doing the seam. She said trust her, if I did this seam correctly, it would vanish.

I doubted her. I carefully followed her instructions, and then I pulled that dark yarn taut expecting I’d be the one person in the class to hold the thing aloft and whine, “Naaaaaancie, this doesn’t woooooooork!”

It.
Vanished.

A perfect, smooth, lovely seam was left, almost imperceptible.

I let out a long, low “Oooooooooooooh!” of wonder and delight.

I wasn’t surprised by my own geeky behavior. I’ve become accustomed to the fact that I am both a geek and a dork. Oh well. I also have been known to start talking to myself, out loud, while walking down the street or in the supermarket. Or walk into cement pillars because I was trying to get my mail to sync on my Treo. Like I said – both a geek, and a dork.

But to hear it echoed all over the room by 20+ other women…that…was a little weird.

I got about three rounds done on the sweater, and that’s it.

Tomorrow, I have a class in crochet for knitters, and sock cuffs. Not socks. Sock cuffs.

It does not get much geekier than that, my dear friends. It just really doesn’t.

And I really mean this: tomorrow! I am going to (mostly) avoid the yarn market, and spend (at least a little bit of) my free time working on my Olympic project!

I really, really, really mean it.

Really.

Stop laughing. I’m right here, I can totally hear you…

Thursday, February 16, 2006

CASE IF WHEN ELSE BUT NOT IF TUESDAY

My new job has thrust me straight from tidying up the underwear drawer into the convoluted world of corporate data structures. So yesterday, I wrote a fairly convoluted bit of code (almost two pages of nearly incomprehensible SELECT CASE ELSE FROM JOIN WHERE GROUP BY) that reached into the innards of four different databases, pulled out a few miles of intestines, applied a couple IF THEN and CASE WHEN statements and viola – generated reports I could then email to the eagerly waiting clients.

It is good to be back. It is also painful. It’s just exactly like getting back on a bike after a few decades. I remember everything I used to do. I just…don’t necessarily remember exactly how.

And with computers…you’ve got to be pretty exact.

So, for the edification of the guild, I would like to pass along the following bit of information, which took me almost an hour to reacquire. When one is writing a CASE statement as part of a select in SQL Server, it should look something like this:

SELECT
'Item Code' = CASE
WHEN C.ITEM_ACTVY_CD = 'A' THEN 'Active'
ELSE 'Inactive'
END
FROM T_ITEMS

Got that?

If you forget the ‘END’, it won’t work.

Trying to say CASE WHEN C.ITEM_ACTVY_CD = 'A' THEN 'Active' ELSE 'Inactive' END AS ‘Item Code’ also will not work.

Oh. And, by the way, cussing at the computer doesn’t help. Nor does muttering, “Oh, c’mon. You know what I mean!”

It will just keep stubbornly saying something utterly unhelpful, like, “ERROR: Server level 8276928672, line 427 statement 2, error near ‘FROM’”

Gee. How did we ever get anything done before we had computers?!?!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Keeping focused…keeeeeeeping…foooooocusssssed...


I shall not knit while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return.
I shall not knit while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return.
I shall not knit while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return.
I shall not knit while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return.
I shall not knit while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return.
I shall not knit while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return.
I shall not knit while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return.
I shall not knit while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return.
I shall not knit while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return.
I shall not knit while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return.
I shall not knit while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return.
I shall not knit while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return.
I shall not knit while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return.
I shall not knit while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return.
I shall not knit while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return.

I shall however, think about knitting while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return. And I shall cast furtive and even perhaps resentful glances at my knitting bag while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return. And I shall feel abused while not knitting while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return. And I shall stare at my wall calendar, taking note of just how few days I have, really, to finishing knitting this sweater while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return. And I shall question whether or not my employer really deserves my undivided attention, given the circumstances, while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return. And I might even grumble under my breath about how I’d rather be knitting while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return.

But I shall not actually knit while sitting idly at my desk waiting for queries to return.

…much…

Day Five


I am feeling the burn.

No really. I am literally feeling the burn. I’ve got a little sore on my right index finger. It’s tiny. No bigger than >>>>>this<<<<<. Itty, bitty, eenie-weenie.

It’s a wool burn. It’s what happens when the Weekend Warrior Knittelete thinks she can leap into the Olympics, going from the casual sock knitting to the full-body contact sport arena of the stranded wool sweater.

It is so small, yet so mighty. It hurts like holy heck. I am going through Band-Aids at a remarkable clip – a session of knitting wears right through it. Also, when I got into the shower last night and started washing my hair, I let out a yelp of surprise that was both loud and rather stupid – I knew the sore spot was there, what did I honestly think was going to happen when I first put soap on it and then thrust it into my hair under stinkin’ hot water.

Thank God I’m not in the Scientific Thinking Olympics. I’d be sunk.

Undaunted, however, I have been making progress! OK, maybe it’s hard to see the actual progress. But the bottom pattern is now complete, and I’m starting on the body pattern. The body pattern, I am excited to report, is much simpler: I’m already getting the rounds done faster and the pattern is much more geometrically simple than the bottom band.




Note that I have yet another tool of the trade included in this picture. This would be Valrhona CafĂ© Noir, a dark chocolate bar from France. It is supposed to have a coffee flavor, but I’m not really getting that. Just chocolate.

And I’m OK with that. I really, truly am OK with that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Tools of the trade

And here, we see the tender care the Olympic Knitter takes of those tools which are so vital to her performance:



Lookit that shine! And those ain't no "Kirkland's Best" paper towels there, either! Nope! Those are the good Bounty brand ones {mumble} that my mother left here the last time she visited because she hates my cheap Kirkland ones {/mumble}

I know how to win these things. Take care of the tools that take care of you, yessir, that's the way to do it...

Forever To Do...

Never let it be said that I never learn anything.

I just learned today that I need to purge my to-do list off my handheld once in a freakin’ while.

I just synced my Treo for the first time with my new work laptop.

Then, I opened Outlook.

Five. Hundred. Thousand. Completed. Tasks.

I literally can’t find the tasks I still need to do for all the undated, completed tasks showing on the task bar today.

So I went and looked at my Treo. And I had about six hundred completed tasks it was cheerfully storing for me. And which it had cheerfully transferred to Outlook.

Oi vey.

Purge please, thank you.

Ah, don’t you just love how simple our lives have become, what with the advent of ‘smartphones’…?!

Monday, February 13, 2006

The epic begins!!!

The Knitting Olympics have begun!!

In spite of being thrown not one but two unexpected curves over the first three days of these Knitting Olympics, this is what I’ve done so far:



Curve #1: Ear infection in Toddlerland. There is little in the world that can so hinder a Knittelete like having a toddler shrieking and clawing at her leg for three days straight. Undaunted, I managed to get my stuff together and cast on, which leads me to…

Curve #2: I was not wrong in thinking that I had #3 circular needs. I do indeed have #3 circular needles.

In 12” length.

And for this project, I need, uh, more like 32”.

Damn.

Note to future Olympic Knitteletes: Don’t trust your memory. It is more full of holes than a sweater stored in an outdoor shed in Tineidae country. Trust me. I don’t know a single knitter who doesn’t have this problem. We always think we have #2 DPNs but are out of #1s, so we buy two packages of #1, get home and discover that we already have eight sets of #1 but no #4s. Also, we’re always convinced when we cast on a project using leftover yarn that we have more of the yarn in the stash somewhere. And we’re always wrong. Always. But we won’t discover this until we’re more than halfway done with the project.

Relying on the old memory. Fear it.

Irked, yet undaunted!, I dug through my craft closet until I came up with not one, not two, but three sets of #3 double pointed needles, which I used to cast on 280 stitches and work the 2” of rib.

It was a Stone Witch. It was hideously slow (by comparison) and the damned yarn kept slipping off the damned needles which caused me to say things like “DAMN!” and I missed most of the show about the dolphins on Discovery channel. DAMN!!

But showing the perseverance of my breed (and the strength of my French roast) (and, a little later in the evening, the benefits of a glass [or two] of decent Chardonnay), I carried on until finally I was able to get off the #3, onto lovely long #5 circulars and into the first of two distinct patterns.

This week, I only have two train commutes to rely upon. I shall have to use {gasp} discipline to overcome this handicap. I shall have to knit when I could be playing games at Yahoo!. I shall have to knit when I could be taking a nice long bath. I shall have to knit when I should be doing housework (aw, shucks, whadda shame). I shall have to knit when I could be, uh, sleeping. Which I did last night. See rant below about sleep deprivation. Also, this pattern is 100% the wrong thing to be knitting while trying to watch TV. I might have been 4” further along if I hadn’t…but we won’t go there. It is way too depressing.

I’m also losing all day Friday, Saturday and the lion’s share of Sunday to, ironically, a knitting convention. Yes, that’s right! Right smack in the middle of these Knitting Olympics, I am going to be wasting two entire days on what?

Knitting.
Classes.

Oy vey.

Undaunted!, I forge ahead! Show no fear! Death before dishonor! Yarn over, yarn back! Hup, hup, hup!

Hmm. I wonder if that gal teaching the ‘Advanced Finishing’ class knows how to do steeks…?

Headbanger Ball

Ordinarily, I count on the weekend being a more or less relaxing time. A time to unwind a bit. To play with the kids. To talk with the husband. Do a little laundry, cook a meal or two, maybe make some cookies, and gosh-golly just detox from the cruel work week. Putting the kids to bed on Sunday night is a wistful little moment of wishing I had another day (or two) of this bliss before having to get back in amongst the unwashed masses with my sharpened elbows and over-zealous work ethic.

This weekend, however, was the kind where the Monday morning alarm is an “OH THANK DAWG!!!” event of joyous celebration.

Thank Dawg, thank Dawg, I get to go to the office now!!

99.9% of the madness came from Captain Adventure. He has an ear infection. He is also a head banger – you know, one of those little ones who will throw himself on the floor and slam his head against it incredibly hard to express his anger and frustration at, well, whatever is irking him.

From Friday afternoon onward, this little tiny person was a shrieking ball of misery, pounding his precious little head, the same little head we have spent so many months guarding like the most delicate of spun glass, against whatever surface presented itself in an excess of fury and frustration.

My nerves are shot.

He also woke up many times throughout both Friday and Saturday nights. Saturday was the worst. 1:40, 2:30, 3:40, 5:00…he woke up screaming and began banging his head against the rails of his crib. And then ‘everybody’ was up by 6:45 and there we were. Half an hour of unbroken sleep and everybody jumping all over me begging for breakfast. Ugh.

Last night, I stayed up too late watching the stupid Olympics (stupid half pipe thing!). So I went to bed at 11:00. And got up at 1:00 when he started shrieking. And at 2:15, when Boo Bug came into the room to announce that she was scared because she dreamed there were bad guys under her bed, but she wasn’t scared now because they were gone. And at 3:30, when I was gifted with a sudden jolt of shrieking from the crib that tapered off before I had done more than sit up in bed.

Two seconds later, at 4:30, the alarm went off.

I was so tired I felt drunk. I was amazed to find upon arriving at the office that I was dressed in actual matching clothing. Even my hair tie is coordinated, and I appear to have specifically chosen earrings that go with this shirt.

I’m astonished. Because I have almost no memory of getting dressed whatsoever, and it’s a miracle I didn’t turn up here in, say, nothing but a pair of jeans and a bra; or maybe the equally fetching cut-off jeans and heavy wool sweater combo. Gee, why are my knees so creakin-crackin’ cold this morning…?

I did forget my heavy jacket, which I regretted for those few long moments spent shivering on train platforms; and I am still so out of it that I exported only page one (of fifteen) of a report and sent it cheerfully off to the client. What a lovely rookie move, one I haven’t pulled in, oh, Lord. A decade? Yes, the last time I can remember doing something like this was indeed ten years ago. Well, eleven, but who's counting?

And I would do it under the direction of the guy who has the least time/patience quotient.

Nice. Nothing says “happy Monday” like doing something stupid and getting to listen to the, “Now, what can we do to prevent this in the future” lecture. Especially when you’re still sitting there in a state of “duuuuuuuuuuuh” from the Weekend from Hell.

I resisted the urge to snark by the barest of margins. It was >>this<< close, I tell you. I agreed that checking the backend data was probably a good idea without pointing out that I couldn’t have checked the backend data this morning on account of because the backend server is on its backside right now; and I also resisted the urge to point out (testily) that in the scant two weeks I’ve been on this job I have been introduced to three servers containing a few dozen databases apiece, each with anywhere from a dozen to a hundred tables containing the data we use. So saying ‘remember, we looked at this a couple times two weeks ago’ is kind of like asking me if I remember that brunette girl in the blue shirt driving the red Volvo in the fast lane two weeks ago.

Uh. No. No, I don’t really remember her.

Nor do I remember looking at this particular table, nor do I remember where the @*%& it is, or really anything else about it or the program it represents at this point.

But I resisted the urge to be snarky for two reasons.

One – bottom line, it was my bad. I hate it when other people start that whole ‘blame aikido’ thing. “It wasn’t my fault because {whine complain explain excuse excuse excuse and besides all that my cat died two years ago and I’m still traumatized and besides THAT it was probably [some random other person]’s fault! Yeah, that’s it! [Some other random person] did the bad!!}!”

Shut. Up. You screwed up, suck it up, take responsibility, feel bad about it, walk it off and don’t do it again.

And two – I’d still rather be here and listening to the lecture than home and listening to the shrieking and head banging.

Thank you sir, may I have another?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Freakin' Steekin'


Yes, that’s right! I’m part of Team USA – Freakin’ Steekin’ division. The Knitting Olympics are set to start in two days time, at 2:00 in the afternoon. I find it somewhat awe-inspiring that there are now more participants in the Knitting Olympics than the actual Olympic-Olympics – last time I checked, the Yarn Harlot had over 3,000 knitters set to go for their personal bests for the 16 day duration of the Winter Olympics!

For yours truly, I am attempting to knit a sweater designed by Alice Starmore. From the Celtic Collection, I am going for the Armagh sweater.

What was I thinking?!

I have dutifully purchased the yarn – a ‘substitution’ yarn because naturally the yarn she designed the sweater with is no longer available for love or money. Well, I take that back. I could have gotten it with money. But the amount of money I’d have to pay for this now rare yarn would be more than enough to buy, say, a Cooper Mini. And I’d have to go into dark alleys to darkest building where you have to whisper the password to a pair of gimlet eyes peering through a metal slot, then slide a locked briefcase full of cash into the other metal slot, at which point they slip the goods back to you and you depart, being careful to take a different route home…

…oh. Wait. That was getting tickets to Cats. Sorry, wrong scenario. Anyway…

Item of difficulty #1: I have tried to purchase a yarn with approximately the same characteristics of a yarn I have never actually touched with my hands. Hmm. May I just state for the record that I have never once been able to match Starmore’s gauge even when using the yarns she used? How I think I’m going to be able to do it with a substitution yarn is truly beyond me. (But honestly: the Merino I got is very nice and only cost me $45 from KnitPicks.)

But, undaunted! We carry on…

This sweater has two colors. A modest number of colors. It isn’t like, you know, one of those twenty-seven color Fair Isle monstrosities I’ve looked at in admiration (tinged with terror) and walked away from. Two colors shouldn’t be that hard. Of course…my color work to date has consisted of two colors in a baby sweater, which turned out…um…well, mostly OK. A little lumpy here and there, maybe a gap or two where I forgot to do that thing with the passing the yarn under itself, but mostly OK.

Item of difficulty #2: Attempting stranded Fair Isle-style color, even with only two colors. With most of the knitting being done in a moving vehicle. **sigh**

Undaunted!! We say this is not enough of a challenge! No! So let’s throw in the subject of this post: steeks.

Steeks are one of those things in knitting that I think separates the men from the boys; or, as the Yarn Harlot puts it, knitters from Knitters. For the uninitiated, what you do when steeking is merrily knit a round tube for the body of the sweater, then get a pair of shears…

Sorry. Sorry about that. I had to go put my head between my knees and breathe into a paper bag for a minute. It’s just that putting ‘body of the sweater’ and ‘shears’ in the same…

OK. I’m back. Whew. Heh heh. OK. I can do this.

You-take-the-shears-and-you-cut-the-armholes-out-of-the-sweater-and-then-you-sew-the-sleeves-into-the-armholes-you-just-made-there-I-said-it!

I’ve never done steeks. Seeing the word ‘steek’ in a pattern has been enough to make me put even the most astonishingly gorgeous of patterns gingerly down and back away, as if expecting an explosion. The very idea of steeks gives me a stomachache. Like I don’t have enough stress in my life, you expect me to take a pair of scissors to the same knitting that, given a single dropped stitch and the slightest of tugs, may unravel back to a pile of yarn? Surely you jest…

Item of difficulty #3: Steeks.

I have sixteen days to knit the entire sweater, including the freakin’ steeks. While I can ‘train’ by doing my gauge swatches and committing as much of the pattern as possible to memory, I am not allowed to cast on the actual sweater until 2:00 on February 10th. It must be completed by February 26th when the torch goes out at the Winter Olympics.

It seemed a lot more doable back when Stephanie first tossed off the suggestion a few weeks ago. When the box of yarn arrived in my house, I looked at all those balls of black and white Merino and thought, Boy. That’s a lot of yarn, there. The enormity of knitting up all that yarn hit me, but I pushed the thought to the back of my mind. Twenty balls of yarn, use up two balls per day, I’m golden, right?

Of course, the last time I got through two 50 gram balls of yarn per day was when I was on bedrest with Danger Mouse and had nothing whatsoever else to do, but we’ll just gloss over that fact, shall we? I refuse to allow mere reality to interfere with my ambitions.

And then I suddenly realized that, um, the 10th would be…this Friday. I looked at the pattern again and realized…that’s a lot of stranding. A lot of pattern to pay attention to. Fraught with peril for the commute-knitter. And did I mention the sheer volume of yarn we’re talking about here? Twenty balls of black and white Merino, to be knit in sixteen days, plus the steeking and the sewing up and the running in of all those ends…

What was I thinking? I asked myself. I pondered ways to weasel out of it. I’m a very busy person, I said to myself. I don’t need ‘challenges’ right now, I insisted. And furthermore, I pontificated firmly, I do not need validation of my knitting skills. I know what I’m capable of, and what I’m not capable of…maybe if I just don’t say anything else about it, if I master my blank ‘what Knitting Olympics?’ stare in case someone I’ve blabbed to asks, if I just tuck the Merino at the very back of the craft closet and ignore it…

…but then again, I do love a challenge…

…and it’s only sixteen days, you know; surely I can focus on a hobby for sixteen days without too much effort…

…and furthermore!, I have wanted to knit that stupid sweater for about ten years now, but have always put the book down and backed away from the freakin’ steeks.

Am I really going to let myself be defeated by a sweater? Which, all difficulty points aside, is nothing more than a bunch of string looped together with a pair of pointy sticks using one (1) of only two (2) stitches: a knit, or a purl?

C’mon. Who wants to admit they got their butt kicked by a bunch of string?!

So. Undaunted, I am putting away my in-progress socks this evening, taking out the substitution yarn and my #5 circulars and attempting to match the gauge of the Armagh sweater with them.

For the glory of knitting – I am Freakin’ Steekin’!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Working is so hard on the budget...


Boy, have the last two weeks been tough, budget-wise.

To be fair, I didn’t really make much of an effort to be frugal. Mostly I was just, uh, getting through the day.

But it has really got to stop. Because I’m not making all that much money, really. It seems like a lot on paper, but once I’ve factored in the childcare and the commute expenses, I actually barely even break even. Toss in a few ‘unauthorized’ meals out and I’ve wiped out the entire positive balance!

I used to be damned good at this ‘frugal working’ thing; but it’s been two years since I used that part of my memory-banks and man! This, I think, is a good pictorial representation of what my brain looks like at this point in time:



This picture, BTW, was shamelessly stolen from Work in Progress, which documents a lady’s journey from Squalor. Want more of this kind of stuff? Try Squalor Survivors, which is a kind of Internet support group for the hideously filthy and disorganized. I’ve never been quite that bad, but I like to go to the site both to find comfort (at least I’m not that bad, holy guacamole!) and the motivation to get off my lazy arse and get moving (…however, if I don’t get going here, I will indeed be that bad!).

But I digress.

As I remember things, I’ll throw them out. Starting with one of the easiest ways to save money when one is working, whether the hours are sane or not: Bring a bagged lunch.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Happy happy joy joy!!!


I am so excited!!!!!!!

You are reading a message from a woman who is officially going to be telecommuting two days per week starting…when? When was that starting? Did we say 'by April'? Did we say 'perhaps as soon as March'?

Did we say…next week?

SOLD!

There are several reasons I am excited about this (duh, who wouldn't be?).

First of all, while it was part of the deal from the get-go, the timeframe was quite a bit further out. It was supposed to be more of an "April" thing. Having it pushed up to only two weeks after I started the job is…well…it's cool.

I don't have to get my kids up at the Crack of Dawn™ so I can catch the last train out of town. I can get them up at a reasonable hour instead. I can work for two hours before they "must" get up.

I take them to school, and come home. I lose about half an hour, tops, of billable time.

I then work for eight hours (or so) (ok, we all know I'm going to work nine or ten, but let's pretend for a minute that it will be eight).

THEN, I have plenty of time to start dinner, maybe rotate the laundry, that kind of good stuff before I go to get my children from daycare – an hour or two earlier than 'usual'.

YAY!

Not to mention…I don't have to spend $6.20 on Train #1, nor do I have to spend $9.90 on Train #2. Saving money, yippee!! Also, I can wear my jeans and t-shirts, saving me on hand washing / dry cleaning, yippee!

AND, the boss has no qualms with telecommuting more. Three, four, five days a week, only come in for meetings or when I feel the need? Let's talk, he says.

**swoon!**

I knew I liked my new boss, but I hadn't realized how handsome and charming he is…

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Bit by the Fashion Don't again...


I got up this morning and carefully – carefully! – selected my accoutrements. Lessee. Black slacks and jacket, black shirt with colorful “Persian-like” stitch accents, amber drop earrings and black pumps with, naturally, thin black dress socks.

These socks were black at 5:00 this morning.

Now, at 10:00, when I slowed down long enough to visit the ladies room and take stock of the overall “look” again…they have somehow, mysteriously, turned blue.

Oh yes. I’ve got the ever-trendy look of ‘all black except of course for the blue socks’ fashion statement going today.

Comfort and practicality insist that I leave the damned socks on and anybody who snickers at me, well, as long as they do it behind my back who cares. It is cold and my tootsies are irritated enough that they are being forced to wear dress shoes five days a week instead of the sneakers they had grown accustomed to over the last few years. “Freeze us and rub us raw with those pumps,” they growl threateningly. “And we’re outta here!”

I do believe they would walk out on me, too. They have no concept of loyalty, my feet. Take the time they suddenly decided they didn’t like my hiking boots and began swelling alarmingly inside them – when I was ten miles from my car. And then I made the mistake of taking off the boots to see what the hell was up in there, and they instantly ballooned out to such a degree that I literally could not wedge them back into the boots and had to spend the entire ten mile jaunt back to the car with my boots unlaced, tongue flapping madly as I hobbled my way back down the mountain. They stayed swollen for two days, then shrank back down to perfectly normal size the minute I made an appointment with an orthopedist because something was so obviously and definitely wrong with them.

And yet…the fashion gene I didn’t know I have is screaming that I must take them off immediately, stuff them into the bottom of my laptop case and deny all knowledge of them forthwith.

You know what this is, don’t you? It is proof positive that America’s Next Top Model is an evil show that needs to be cancelled immediately for the good of the American viewing public. I never would have given a fig about non-matching socks before that show came on, but now I can hear Tyra Banks in my head saying, “OK, so, what are you trying to say with this look? Is this the ‘I’m a colorblind buffoon’ look? I’m just not…feeling this look…”

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

There’s that e-coli again…


OK, so, it isn’t actually e-coli I’m freaking out about tonight.

It’s salmonella.

Because I took a bunch of fish and chicken out of the freezer and put it into the fridge to defrost. Which it did…

…leaking a large quantity of fish- and chicken-ick all over the inside of my fridge.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW!!!!!!!!

See, now, these are the kinds of things that upset me. I don’t mind using the restroom at work, and I’m not the sort who washes her hands and then uses a towel to open the door. I have hand sanitizer at my desk that I pretend I only use for the aloe, so after I’ve washed my hands I cavalierly open the door with my bare mitts and then rush to my desk to, uh, moisturize.

But I digress.

I had a large amount of bacterially-infected dampness in my fridge. And now…I just want to throw out everything that was in there. I don’t care how remote the chances of contamination might be, or how effective Mr. Clean is at the antibacterial thing, or how completely sealed the other food was.

It’s just gross, and I can’t eat it now.

Because-because, that’s why!