Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Dreaded Yarn Monster

Siv is going better now. The cable is still mis-crossed, but I’m going to stitch it over Harlot Voodoo Style later. After a few drinks and a suitable period to forgive the project for being such a pest. Thanks, Moorecat! I remembered that post the instant you showed it to me again!

The word ‘pest’ brings me to the Subject of the Day: Yarn Monsters. I made a terrible, terrible mistake a couple days ago. I am writing about it in the desperate hope that, somewhere out there, another knitter who like me was ignorant of the guile shown by Yarn Monsters; that the devil hath indeed the power to assume a pleasing shape and all that.

For the as-of-yet uninfected, there is hope.

For me…eh, not so much. I suspect I am done for.

You see, there are things you do not, under any circumstances, want around your precious yarn. Moths spring to mind instantly, of course; and the lesser discussed but nasty carpet beetle. Being put into sealed bags with moisture present, likewise not good. Even dust! Dust can be damaging! Especially in the quantities which settle over the Den on a regular basis – I sometimes forget just how rural we really are. But then I open my upstairs bathroom window and gaze out on the horses running around and around and around their arena kicking up massive amounts of Delta dust (which is like talc powder in consistency, but sticky like clay because that’s what it was before it became dust and snuck into my house through openings no bigger than half a micron) and I say to myself, “Oh. Yeah. That whole ‘farmland’ thing…**sigh**…” and I get the duster and continue to attempt to turn the tide of battle.

Which is a lot like trying to keep the ocean tide from coming in using a beach towel and your cooler lid. Only without the ‘fun’ factor.

But I digress.

Another thing you do not want around your yarn is a Yarn Monster.

Yarn Monsters can be somewhat tricky to spot. Their identification can be made all the trickier by the fact that they are often extraordinarily cute. How cute?


Uh-huh. That’s right. THAT, people, is a Yarn Monster. Do not be fooled by the Ritz cracker, which might give you the impression that it is a crumbly snack monster. Or the PJs, which might make one think it is a ‘cuddly, slumbery’ kind of monster.

This…is a Yarn Monster. It is extremely active and also persistent, and its appetite for yarn is insatiable. Once it has acquired a taste for the stuff, it will begin the acquisition and hoarding processes, and will not be deterred. Except possibly, temporarily, by a snack of milk and cookies.

I allowed this one to get into my stash Monday, and now I will spend the rest of my life in a state of Constant! Vigilance!, lest my entire stash be ferreted away into dark corners of the toy box.

OK, so, I mentioned how he was getting into my stash Monday and bringing me all the red wool he could find? Well, it went on for quite a long time, and he brought me quite a few ball of yarn before I finally put an end to the game. It occurred to me somewhere between the 10th and 30th ball that landed on my desk (because I am quick-witted) that perhaps this ‘playing with mommy’s yarn’ game was not the best precedent I ever set.

Today, he was once again! clinging to me like a leech. Whither I go, there likewise goeth Himself. I mean, it’s getting better, he doesn’t hang on the bathroom door while I am attending to the Royal Business and scream as though someone is driving an ice pick into his skull anymore, and he did take himself upstairs to play with sisters earlier, so hey. Progress and all that.

But, overall, he wants to be where I am and no matter how boring I’m being he just brings his books or toys along and sits somewhere inconvenient (like, for example, pressed between my legs and the sofa) (yes, really, on the floor, BETWEEN my legs and the sofa) (adorable child, NO REALLY! And coming as he does with free overnight shipping and a month’s supply of Huggies, please – bid early, bid often!)

So I was sitting here earlier this afternoon reading some emails and catching up on my blog reading (we are a chatty group out here in Internetville, aren’t we?!) while he sits on my bed playing with trucks and perhaps I got just a little bit channeled into what I was reading, and then slowly two things entered my awareness at the same time: Captain Adventure is being awfully quiet, and, my wire yarn shelves are looking…kinda…bald-ish.

I almost got whiplash, I whirled around from the desk so fast.

My son, the Yarn Monster, was sitting on my bed, surrounded by carefully (re)sorted bundles of yarn. Similar colors were together, and a few things had been obviously hand-culled for “specialness” – like his mommy, the Yarn Monster appears to have a special affection for alpaca, and also earth tones.

He also had peeled the labels off several (dozen) balls, and laboriously unraveled two balls of mohair. (WAH! Of all the confounded balls to choose – WHY THE MOHAIR, MY SON?! Why couldn’t he have chosen…the kitchen cotton? It’s soft and pretty!! Or even the Atacama alpaca, which at least has skein-ties so I’d have a prayer of being able to get it back into some form of “put-up”?!)

When he saw his death in my eyes me looking at him he grinned at me, spread his arms wide in an expression clearly indicating that he had found his One True Love AND BEHOLD IT IS WOOL!!!!, and then fell over into his shameless contraband and proceeded to roll around in the tangled-up mohair, the now-unlabeled wool, the handspun alpaca, the sock yarn, the cotton.

Giggling madly the whole time.

He wailed and fussed when I was putting it all back on the shelves, and wanted to argue with me about where each one went, and when he realized that the shelf was now a “No Captain Adventure Zone” he sank to his knees, threw back his head, and wailed.

When I tried to give him a partial ball of Simply Soft to soothe his loss he looked at me with the exact expression I suspect a starving child would give a person who said, “Oh, here you go, sweetie!” and then handed him a bowl full of Kibbles ‘n Bits. He held it for a split second, then let it drop to the floor disdainfully before flinging himself full-length onto the floor, covering his face with his hands and sobbing as if Go, Diego, Go! had been permanently cancelled.

The despondency touched a nerve in my soul. And also, I was curious: was he just pissed off in general because I told him “no” (the NERVE of me! what do I think I am, his mother?!...oh…wait…), or was it really what it looked like: yarn snobbery in a two year old?!

So I placed a tiny skein of Lorna’s Laces Angel, a 70% angora / 30% lambswool confection in ‘Rainbow’ on the floor in front of him.

He lifted his tearful face from the floor and regarded my offering skeptically. Then he reached out and picked it up, squeezing it a few times and taking in the bright, variegated colors.

Sat up.

Sniffed loudly.

Looked up at me.

Looked back at the skein.


Clutched the skein to his bosom and made off with it.

It is official.

There is a Yarn Monster in the Den. It has no shame, plenty of guile, and a darned cute smile.

…I’m done for

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mind like a Siv

You may be wondering why there are no pictures of my current project on this blog. After all, I’ve been working on Siv from Elsbeth Lavold’s Viking Patterns for five whole days. SURELY, there should be enough progress to take a picture, right?

Well, ordinarily there would be. But people, I am having the worst time with this sweater. Seriously. You’d think the pattern was written in Icelandic. It is not. It is written in very clear English.

And yet, I’ve had to tear out nearly everything I’ve done on Siv – twice!

The first time I’d mistakenly done ten rows even (all three cable panels the same) when it was supposed to be “offset” – on the center panel, you do rows 1 and 2 ten times (hold onto that thought, attention to certain small details become important later), but on the side panels you just charge straight on in and start cabling like mad.

So I ripped it out and started over, dutifully starting the cable pattern on the sides right away, and when I got to row 10 I started the cable panel on the center.

Let me say that again: Instructed to do rows 1 and 2 ten times, I proceeded to do ten rows and then start the pattern.

Two rows, ten times. Ten, times two. Does this equal ten, Tama? Does it?


So I tore it all out again.

In public.

Yes, that’s right! I didn’t discover this glorious example of math-impairedness in the privacy of my own Den. Oh no! I had to realize it while sitting there in front of God and everybody at gymnastics.

For a long, long, long moment, I thought about pretending it wasn’t so. Calling it a ‘design feature’ that the cable patterns were badly cattywhumpus.

But I knew I couldn’t do it. It looked wrong, and no amount of squinting could make it look right. @*^&@.

Briefly, I considered just putting it down and not knitting. You know. Just, sitting there until the gymnastics experience was over.

In two hours.

Yeah. Right.

So I sat there, right there in public, and tore out a good three hour’s worth of work, muttering unsavory words under my breath as I did so.

AND THEN, I had to be all mature about it when one of the kids asked what I was doing. Well, you know, when you make a mistake…you just pick yourself up and do it again, right? Ha ha, yeah, that whole ‘practice makes perfect’ thing applies to knitting, too.

@*^&@^ing practice.


As I’m going on with the whole experience here, I’m now really scrutinizing my work. Because I will lose my mind if I have to tear this thing out yet again. So as I’m approaching row twenty at long last, I flip over to the picture to make sure it looks about right. Does it look about right? Because the second pattern will start here, so the first center panel…the curve on the…the curve…wait…where’s the…what the…

I’m doing the wrong chart.


I had a moment of vertigo.

I believe I may have had a miniature anxiety attack.

For a few wild seconds, I wondered if Silky Wool would burn well. Perhaps I could set the whole obviously Satanic project ablaze with the cigarette lighter in the van…

But then, as I regarded the cables clearly shown in the picture and compared them to the cables I was actually producing…I realized…

I like MY pattern better.

Well, shoot.

I’m not @*^&@ing it up.

I’m customizing it.

So I carried on.



Got quite a bit of ground regained and felt darned good about it!!

Eventually, gymnastics was over and we came home and I took it upstairs and was getting ready to take a picture of it.

And then…

!!!!!GOD HELP ME!!!!!

…I noticed I blew the first cable on the sides. Instead of over/under/over, it goes over/over/over. It is so obvious a mistake that I am absolutely beside myself with wonder that I didn’t notice I was doing it at the time I did it. About an hour and a half of knitting time ago.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Or whether I’m going to actually find out how well Silky Wool burns. I don’t guarantee I won’t actually burn it. Ceremoniously. With sage, cedar and sweet grass.

Then again, perhaps I will just say, “Only Allah is perfect” and leave it the @*^&@ alone.

Sleeping on it is probably best at this point. Because with ‘attention to detail’ issues this intense, it is entirely possible that I could burn the whole house down while attempting a simple smudge with a stick that ordinarily won’t stay lit no matter how carefully you tend it.


{stomps off to sulk and obsess}

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Attached at the hip

Hi! I’m back! Didja miss me?! I took a three day weekend, went to Arizona, had a great old time driving around and bouncing off the locked doors of yarn stores (what the @*^&@? I mean! They were supposed to be open, yet they were not? Not one (1) of the four (4) I tried to visit?! ARGH!!).

It was marvelous. I got to really relax and kind of…well. Drop everything, and then decide what pieces of psychic junk I was going to leave on the ground and what I was going to pick back up again. The noise inside my own skull resembled descriptions I’ve heard of tornados – like a freight train was running, running, running inside my head all the time.

Recharged, I came back and was instantly plunged back into laundry, filth-removal, email and oh yeah, dealing with the Denizens.

One Denizen in particular was not happy about me taking a solo trip. I had no prior authorization. It was not an OK thing for me to do. We have policies! We have procedures! We have terms and conditions! And they go like this: The Mommy is not allowed to leave her precious son for any reason whatsoever. The precious son must be taken with her everywhere she goes, preferably slung on her hip like an overgrown tumor, forever and ever, hallelujah, amen.

The girls hardly seemed to notice I’d gone. But Captain Adventure has literally not willingly let me out of his sight since I got him out of his crib yesterday morning. He is sitting in my room right now, making sure I don’t go anywhere. I just got back from the bathroom, which I dodged into like a jailbird going over the wall.

I locked the door. Because, you know.

I work alone.

Whenever possible, anyway.

Before I could unbutton my jeans, the handle was being yanked from the outside and a little voice was wailing, “Mommmmmmmmmeeeeeee! Mommmmmeeeeeee! Mommy, no-no! Mommy! In! UGH-UGH-UGH! MOMMMMEEEEE! AAAAAAAAAH! WAH! WAH! AAUGH IN IN IN MOMMEEE I WAN’ SOME IN *sob sob sob*!!!!!”


Attachment issues, much?!

It would be flattering if it were not so profoundly annoying. Every time I sit down today, he climbs up in my lap. Every time I get up, he grabs hold of my hand or my belt loop or the end of my shirt and holds on to make absolutely sure I don’t actually go anywhere. He wants to be right in the middle of whatever I’m doing. He wants to have my attention at all times. I’d swear he’s even trying to be more interesting to me – he started bringing me balls of red yarn. All the red yarn he could find in the “open stack” stash, he was bringing over to me. “’Ere you go!” {toddle, toddle, dig, dig, toddle, toddle} “’Ere! ‘Ere you go! Mommy! ‘Ere!”

What is it they say about deepening bonds in a relationship? “Take an interest in each other’s hobbies”? Look, mommy, I’ve brought you yarn! Which is your hobby! I am interested in red! Come, let us discuss our mutual interest in red yarn…at exhaustive length…

Honestly, none of the other Denizens were this level of momma’s child. This is actually a touch disturbing to me; I mean, I’m gratified that my adoration is apparently returned, but at the same time…uh, dude? Little space, please?

It’s hard to remember that someday, someday pretty darned soon, he’s going to be turning to me with a pained expression and saying, “Mom, puh-LEEZE! Could you, like, drop me off around the corner? I don’t want to be seen in public with you!” That someday, I’m going to look back on these baby years and sniffle for the closeness we once shared.

I’m sure I will. Someday.

But for this precise moment: GET OFF ME, DAWG! DOWN! BACK! SIT! STAY!

Oh yeah. That worked. He is at this moment climbing up my leg. Argh. OK. That’s it.

I didn’t want to do this. But! Desperate times, people, call for desperate measures…and there is laundry that needs to be put away.

I’m putting on Go, Diego, Go!.

Don’t look at me like that.

It could have been one of the ‘older’ Baby Einsteins. See? Are you not now feeling the love for baby jaguar? C’mon! Sing it with me!! Awwwwwwwwwwwwww, RESCUE PACK! Comin’ to the rescue!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The 401k: It’s not just for corporate employees anymore!

OK, so, y’all know how I am. I may not be working-working, but I am physically incapable of just doing the Sally Homemaker routine.

It is definitely a character flaw.

So I’m bashing around a bunch of ideas for a home-based something-or-other. I’ve got three main ideas that are equally appealing, and I’m just letting them stew right now while I get through summer. Three of my four kids will be in school-school come mid-August, and I’m contemplating putting Captain Adventure into a morning preschool as well. Maybe. We’ll see. It all depends on how his speech delay is coming along, and whether or not I can get the boy to acknowledge the existence of the Strange and Magickal Device known as ‘The Potty’.

ANYWAY. Sometime next Fall, I’ll probably be firing up the engines and looking at getting some income of my own flowing again. The kinds of ideas I’m bashing around are not earth-shattering, “and then I became a bazillionaire and bought this fleet of yachts” kinds of ideas. They’re small. They’re easy to turn on and off. They make money when I have time and inclination, but I can completely disentangle myself in a matter of weeks. I’m projecting, eh, maybe $20,000 a year net from it.

Check this out (full article is here):

Individual 401k Contribution Calculation - for a sole proprietorship, partnership or a LLC taxed as a sole proprietorship

Salary Deferral Contribution

Although the term salary deferral is used, these businesses do not provide a W-2 salary to the business owner. For businesses of this type, the salary deferral contribution is based on net adjusted business profit. Net adjusted business profit is calculated by taking gross self employment income and then subtracting business expenses and then subtracting 1/2 of the self employment tax. In 2007, 100% of net adjusted business profits income up to the maximum of $15,500 or $20,500 if age 50 or older can be contributed in salary deferrals into an Individual 401k.

Allow me to translate: I can earn $20,000 net next year, put it $15,500 into an individual 401k, and pay taxes on how much? How much is taxable this year? Would that be…$4,500?!

Moreover! I can roll my existing retirement funds INTO this deal, and then take a tax-free loan from those funds for business startup expenses without having to worry about traditional loan qualification processes AND!!!! the interest I pay on those loans goes where? Where does it go?

Back into the 401k.

You see why this is exciting to me? Granted, the kinds of things I’m thinking about doing don’t really have high startup costs that would necessitate a loan…but at the same time, it does open a few more doors than I had previously considered.

And $15,500 kicks butt over the paltry $4,000 allowed in an IRA. Gee whiz, what braniac put THAT limitation in place?! Would it kill them to allow $15,500, like in a 401k account?!?! Are you telling me that doing so would be just so shockingly detrimental to the tax base of this great country?

First we kvetch that people aren’t saving enough. THEN we tell them that, unless they are fortunate enough to have a 401k, they aren’t ALLOWED to save enough – not on a tax-deferred basis, anyway.

Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. And you can’t tell me they’d even lose all that much in tax benefits, because most people either are really not fiscally able to make that kind of contribution or emotionally unprepared to make the daily sacrifices necessary to do it.

Me personally, I’d live on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to do it. It’s freedom, people. When I look at this individual 401k deal and I calculate out what it could do for us, IF I were able to put the full $15,500 into it every year…well. We’re retired at 50 instead of 55. That’s only ten years away.

It gives me something to shoot for with this whole ‘yeah, uh, I think I’d like to do something that brings in a little cash around here’ thing.

And now, my tax deductions are asking for snacks. Hokay. Carry on, people! And if you’re self-employed and haven’t heard of this, look into it. It might be a really good thing for your future fiscal health.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

So much **yawn** excitement…

Actually, it has been kind of exciting around here. But it isn’t “…and then I wrestled an alligator!” kind of excitement.

I finally got my refund check from, who have been steadfastly pretending for the last eight months they don’t remember me, let alone the fact that they owed me (ahem!) almost ten thousand dollars.

Oh yes. They did. “Um, I’m not seeing any record of a Chaos, Mother in our system…”

Dudes. You sucked over $40,000 out of me and Blue Cross last year before you were soundly slapped upside the head by said MegaInsuranceCo when they caught you up to your armpits in the cookie jar. Don’t even give me the ‘what? who? I see no record of that…’ routine. I have faxed all the assorted bills and receipts to them about eleventy-zillion times and still: “Gee, I don’t know, I’m not finding you in the system…” or even, get this, “Um, actually, I see a balance DUE of ${nine to nine thousand, depending on the day}…”

If you heard a lot of banging noises coming from the Central Valley over the last eight months, that was me slamming my head on my desk. I literally couldn’t talk about it, because it just put me into A State – you know, where you don’t know whether to laugh, cry, scream or get a lawyer?

Finally, someone accidentally transferred me to the one (1) person in the entire corporation who had the right combination of competence, intelligence, and Give-A-Gosh-Darned to actually look into it, say “ACK!” and get me a check.

Well. It wasn’t really an accident. I got my Yuppie on with the last clerk I talked to (“Now you listen here, Mr. Man, do I need to get my mother on the phone? Do I? Because I will! Do you even know who you’d be messing with?! That’s it, you just wait, I’m dialing her on conference…!”), and they transferred me to the escalation specialist – the person who gets all the crayons on account of because they’re so good at talking us down off ledges. I know her job well, because I used to do it for People screaming about how they made a $200 deposit fifteen years ago and the teller didn’t write it into their passbook (remember those?!) – so therefore they always had $200 more than what we said they had.

I’ll give you a minute to work out that particular logic. Heh heh. Yeah. Good times. Goooooood times…{bangs head on keyboard to get rid of flashback}

ANYWAY. My Angelfish navigated around all the bass turds in the billing department pond (seriously – the incompetence I encountered dealing with this group positively boggled the mind. It was like a bunch of orangutans with ADD were operating the billing systems or something.), and I got the ten grand back a couple weeks ago. I promptly paid off the loan-for-surgery with it and signed the girls up for gymnastics.

They are the cutest gymnasts ever. Seriously. I do not just say this because I’m their mom. Cutest. Ever.

Meanwhile, in other news, the remodeling project has stalled. We don’t have final plans yet thanks to being bumped off the radar by higher paying clients more urgent projects, and frankly I don’t think we’re going to be getting them any time soon. Once we get the final plans, they then have to go through the permitting process, which I’ve heard is about as simple and fun as brain surgery. Only after we have final plans AND permits will a contractor deign to pencil us into the schedule.

At this point, I’m figuring that we will have plans and permits sometime…right in the middle of the rainy season. Seriously. My husband is enthusiastically saying, “Oh no, September at the latest!” but…eh. I don’t think so. I really don’t. The contractors I’ve talked to have given me anything from four to six months before they have openings on their calendar, some of them even longer. Each month we wait pushes that out as well.

I’m thinking we won’t be doing this until next summer, at the earliest. (Even though my husband says, rather pitifully IMHO, “Well, but…well…it doesn’t rain all that much in January!” Yeah, well, if the roof of your house is sitting on the lawn while framing and such is going on inside and it rains even a little bit? It is a problem. We are not doing this when the chance of rain is $ANY_%. Thus is it spoken. Thus shall it be. HAIL PHAROAH!!)

Which makes me feel a lot less slimy about shamelessly stealing from the remodeling fund to pay off the furnace loan AND the car. What can I say? I like to live dangerously. I’m just a gamblin’ kind of girl. That’s right. I’m betting that I’m right, and using about a third of the remodeling fund as my marker.

Of course, I also like to hedge my bets – which is why I didn’t also pay off the minivan, even though it actually has the most onerous payment. It leaves enough in the account to cover the permits and the initial phases of the remodeling project – basically, all the stuff we have to pay the contractor to do. The stuff we were planning to do ourselves, the drywall and finishing and painting and such, we’ll have to do out of the regular monthly budget.

Which is now three times what it was before.

Now that is what I call exciting. I may just have to do something Wild! And also CRAZY! to celebrate. Like, buy a full-priced gallon of ice cream!


Too crazy.

But I might go ahead and pick up whatever’s on sale…

Friday, June 15, 2007

No sense of gravity around here today

Danger Mouse: MOMMY! MOMMY! Captain Adventure fell down!!

Me: What?!

Danger Mouse: Captain Adventure fell down and now he’s crying!!

Me: How did he fall down?

Danger Mouse, sardonically: Well…I guess somebody put gravity right where he was standing or somethin’.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Spider Has Moves

I’m sitting here, reading blogs, just minding my own business. Well. And that of a dozen or so fellow bloggers. Suddenly, something lands on my nose. I stare down at it, cross-eyed and perplexed. At first, I think it is a rather large dust mote.

But it is not a dust mote. Same color, but…livelier.

It is a spider. A tiny little white spider, probably mere hours old.

The spider is doing a little dance. I am going to call it the “Hey, where am I, this doesn’t look like the desktop to me!” boogie.

Just as I am about to reach up and flick the minute (but impudent!) beggar off my nose, it apparently somehow attaches a line to my person (the nerve!) and rappels down to the floor, disappearing into the carpet forever before I have time to react.

And now, I am left to sit here wondering: Did that just really happen? Or have I had one too many Monster Energy drinks tonight? There are a lot of buggy visitors in the Den right now, but still – how often does a spider drop from the ceiling onto one’s nose, do a little boogie, and then fling itself to the floor?

Probably squeaking, Thank you, and GOODNIGHT! all the way…

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Things that go ‘Mommy!’ in the night

{pitter-patter-pitter-patter} {creeeeeeeak of the door opening up}

Intense whisper: Mommy!

Mommy: {snork?!}

Intense whisper: Mommy…I can’t get to sleep!

Mommy: Ungh? {a glance at the alarm clock reveals the time to be 1:03 a.m.}

Intense whisper: I keep trying to sleep but I can’t and then I just lie there, awake, and I can’t sleep!

Mommy: Ohferloveofchristophercolumbus GET OUT OF HERE!!!!

{pitter-patter-pitter-patter} {creeeeeeeak of the door closing again}

{time passes}

{pitter-patter-pitter-patter} {creeeeeeeak of the door opening up}

Intense whisper: Mommy!

Mommy: {SNORK?!} {1:23 a.m.}

Intense whisper: Mommy, I still can’t…

Mommy: Oh no. No. You are not waking me up to tell me you can’t sleep. No. This is not happening. I mean, what kind of logic is that? Gee, I can’t get to sleep – I KNOW! Let’s go wake up EVERYBODY ELSE in the house, and tell them I can’t sleep! That’s just brilliant, that’s just feckin’ brilliant. Whaddya want me to DO about it, anyway? What? What do you think I’m going to be able to do about YOU not being able to sleep? I can’t MAKE you sleep! I can’t give you a sleep-pill OH LORD IF ONLY!, no! No I can’t! There is NOTHING I can do about you and your sleep-not-able-ness right now. Waking me up for “I can’t sleep” this is just {mommy begins to slowly sputter into silence}

{there is silence for an instant, into which Daddy speaks}

Daddy: Go back to bed and stay there.

Intense whisper: OK.

{silence falls over the Den for the remainder of the night}

Moral of the Story: At 1:23 in the morning, blathering on and on about logic, cause and effect, etc., to the insomniac preschooler is really not helpful. They aren’t listening under the best of conditions and in the lack of clear direction will continue pestering you. Just tell the kid to go back to bed, and stay there. This they can understand.

Finally Seeing the Light

So the ceiling fan and bathroom vanity bulbs have been burning out left, right and center around the Den recently. I put the last one I had on hand into a fan yesterday, and bang – another one out this morning.

Dang. But not surprising, as we use the ceiling fans for about 85% of all the lighting in this house and are generally still rambling around at midnight every night. So I said to myself, said I, “Self! Why don’t we look into those fluora-whatz-a-name-o-dems for replacements…”

If somebody wants to do a great service to the eco-Nazi “If Everybody Would Replace Just One (1) Lightbulb With Fluorescent We Could Save The World” movement, they could put together a fact sheet that says, “Click here for ceiling fan replacement suggestions…click here for regular old light bulbs…click here for vanities…If the package you’re trying to replace says “Medium Base / A15”, click here…”

It should not have taken me over an hour to buy a set of @*^&@ing ceiling fan and vanity light bulbs, people. I am used to going to WalMart and grabbing a case of the danged things off the shelf. It is fast, and easy, and cheap. These fluorescent deals are going to make me crazy. Their shapes aren’t readily identifiable as being “my” bulbs. Their prices are shocking. And given the shocking price, I really don’t want to take a risk on buying bulbs that might not be the right fit for my Medium Base, A15 ceiling fan bulbs…

About two seconds before I was going to give up with a loud and vulgar tirade, I finally found them. And bought them. And then let out a loud and vulgar tirade about their cost compared to the standard bulbs at WalMart.

Of course, the cheap standard bulbs have also been burning out every eighteen seconds. Well. That’s an exaggeration. They have been burning out “constantly” because they are “constantly” being left on. I could make a full-time career out of turning off all the lights that get left on around here. Right now, glancing down the hall, I note that one ceiling fan (three 25 watt bulbs), the Denizen bathroom vanity (six 25 watt bulbs) AND the light in Captain Adventure’s room (60 watt bulb) are cheerfully adding their yellow glow to that provided by the @*^&@ing SUN, WHICH IS UP IN THE SKY PROVIDING US WITH LIGHT AND HEAT AND THEREFORE I SEE NO NEED FOR ALL THESE @*^&@*^ING LIGHTS TO BE ON DOING THE SAME…

…excuse me for a moment…{…stomp, stomp, stomp…} {click!, click!, click!}

OK, I’m back. Geez. I yell. I stamp my feet. I carry on. I make them go back upstairs and turn them off. But, along with putting empty Capri Sun wrappers in the trash can and bringing their plates to the counter to be washed, the ‘turn off the lights when you leave the room’ war will likely continue raging right up until the minute they leave the Den for their new lives as professional light-burning slobs.

Anyway. According to theory, these bulbs last up to seven times longer, produce the same amount of light using a fraction of the electricity and without generating a quarter the heat – important in the summer, thank you very much.

We shall see. And also, we are fascinated by odor eliminating light bulbs. Seriously. I just can’t say it with a straight face. Can you imagine the conversations you’d have at parties?!

“My goodness, what interesting bulbs you’ve chosen for this bathroom vanity!”

“Yes. They’re odor eliminating light bulbs!”

“I, uh, oh, uh, really? How…interesting…” {backs away from insane person who thinks her light bulbs will eliminate odors…}

I almost have to get some just for the conversational possibilities…

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Finisher Strikes Again!

I like to celebrate when I finish things, because it is a rare occurrence. I’m more of a ‘starter and then forget all about it’-er. A ‘find it years later and put the finishing touches on it’-er. So when I actually start and finish things within a reasonable time period – I boast! LOUDLY!!

I finished the Wool Peddler’s Shawl…

Wool Peddler’s Shawl

It turned out nicely; the wool isn’t quite as soft as I’d like, but I suspect another bath or two will straighten it out.

I also finished a hat in the same wool and lace pattern. (Dead batteries + Pointless discussion with mate about whether or not we have more batteries and whether or not there WAS a box of them in the downstairs closet and where the heck they could have gotten to and whose fault this is, precisely = No pictures until I motivate myself to the store to buy more batteries, so that the box I just KNOW we do actually have will resurface with its tongue waggling impudently at me) (Sorry.) (Here’s the lace pattern, though…)

The lace pattern

I also finished my bedroom, which was a tremendous feat of organizing skill and I am very, very proud of myself. For a few days there, walking through this bedroom required both a keen memory (to remember where the mines were placed) and the balance of a Cirque de Soleil performer.

There were actual needles, on the floor. Not knitting needles – needle-needles. You know, like, for sewing fabric? The kind normal people keep on high shelves inside boxes with locking lids? Yeah. Those. I had them on the floor of my bedroom in a pincushion.


Darwinism at work, people. That’s all I can say about that.

ANYWAY. I got it all cleaned up and the shelf moved in so I could pick the books up off the floor and put them, you know, on a bookshelf, picked the needles up off the floor and put them away in a latching box, and then I vacuumed!

It was a very exciting moment.

Then I started doing laundry and was so unmotivated about the whole thing that rather than hang up the clothesline outside for the wet delicate things, I plopped a drying rack in the middle of my bedroom floor and hung Unmentionables and lacy little girl dresses that can’t go in the dryer all over it.

Not to digress, but why, Oh Designers of Children’s Clothing?! Why would you EVER, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, design clothing that must be line dried?! The letters 5T and the words ‘line dry only’ (or ‘hand wash only’, for that matter) should never, ever appear on clothing labels! Seriously! (says the woman who hand-knit sweaters out of hand wash, lay flat to dry Merino for all four of her children last year) (never mind! Do as I say, not as I do!).

Anyway, that kinda ruins the ‘perfect, well-organized room’ effect, you know?

But under all the drying laundry, it’s a very clean, well-organized room.

And no. You don’t get to check back in two weeks. Let’s just take it as read that it will be in a state of utter Chaos and I will be unable to find so much as a pair of socks, let alone a set of #8 circular needles, OK?

OK. Glad we had this chat.

Carry on with your lives, people. I’m going try to dig up enough motivation to make dinner for the Denizens. They haven’t turned their noses up at my cooking in at least four hours now, and I’m worried about their lack of exercise.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Translation needed, please

It is 10:00 a.m. in the Den of Chaos. Nobody has eaten anything yet, because everybody was up too late last night and really, apart from Captain Adventure, we’ve just barely gotten out of bed to survey the damage left from a night of watching a Deadliest Catch marathon and complaining about the Space Formerly Known as Tooth #3. I’m sure my family appreciates that I keep them up to date on each individual sensation in graphic detail every time there’s a commercial break.


Anyway, it suddenly occurs to me, because I am of a maternal bent, that hey – the Denizens haven’t eaten anything since pizza last night (uh, yeah, I was feeling a little too delicate to make dinner last night). So I turned to my offspring and begin the following conversation:

Me: Hey, are you guys hungry?

Eldest: No, not me.

Danger Mouse: Me either. Well. Not very hungry. Maybe a little. Just a little. I mean, not like, I want a thousand bowls of cereal or anything…

Eldest: No, not like that.

Danger Mouse: But maybe A bowl of cereal. Or maybe toast. But I’m not really hungry. Maybe just a little bit.

Eldest: Yeah.

Danger Mouse: Not really. But maybe. I don’t know.

Eldest: Yeah. Not really. So, rock people can’t collect anything but rocks, because they don’t want to collect anything but rocks…

Danger Mouse: But sometimes they want purple seaweed…because sometimes other people don’t think they’re very nice…

Captain Adventure, popping from out of nowhere and jumping up and down in a state of High Excitement: Uhna mayma badda bidda mana! Huuuuuuh? GO GO GO!! Daddy? Out? GO!

OK, so…


See, I know what Captain Adventure wants. It’s the same thing he always wants: to GO. He wants to put on his shoes and hit the open road. He wants some adventure, dammit. You people are boring and I want to GO-GO-GO!!

He giggles all the way out, and starts crying the minute he realizes we’re heading home.

Not much of a home-body, that one.

But the girls? What the heck does this mean? If I make them some breakfast, will they refuse to eat it? Or are they actually starving but too involved in their rock-person game to listen to their yowling stomachs? I know that I am capable of going until 2:00 in the afternoon before it suddenly occurs to me that I ought to eat something, but is this something the ten-and-under set do as well?

Or are they going to wait until we’re on our way to the party this afternoon (a two hour drive) to suddenly let forth shrieks of starvation OH MY GAWD WE’RE DYYYYYYYYYING OF HUNNNNNNGERRRRRRRR!!!!!

Are they going to demand Happy Meals, so they can eat a quarter of the bun from the hamburger and three French fries, slam their drink and then need to go potty while we’re on That stretch of highway, where not only are there no potties, there isn’t even a shoulder to pull over on? Is that their devious plot?


Oh well. I’m just going to quietly put some bowls of cereal on the table and bang on the triangle. And we’ll see what happens.

That’s the true benefit of cereal: If they don’t eat it, I can put it back in the box. You can’t do that with scrambled eggs.

Trust me on that one.

Friday, June 08, 2007

My life, now in VIDEO GAME FORM

There is a new video game out there called Nanny Mania.

“Nanny Mania puts you in the heart of a household with 4 children, 2 parents and a whole heap of trouble. Juggle domestic duties as you try to keep the house in order. Fold, cook and clean your way to becoming the perfect nanny!”

Oh look. It’s my life – in video game format.

I played it. And you know what? It really is my life.

In all its drab, monotonous, oh-goodness-are-we-doing-laundry-again glory.

And by ‘glory’, I mean ‘wretchedness’.

Is there anything as depressing as realizing that your life makes for a very dull video game? Seriously.

However, I did figure out my Ultimate Sweater Machine yesterday. Now, if that had been part of the game, there might have been more excitement! Laundry, cup of coffee, make the beds, figure out Ultimate Sweater Machine, answer emails, drink coffee…

I’ve owned this thing for eight years now, and never done anything more than move it from one closet to another. But yesterday, I finally sat down and sweat it out and made a baby blanket.

Once I figured out how the machine works (which I’ve decided is completely not the same as knowing how to work the machine), it took me about 40 minutes to “knit” a 20x20” preemie blanket. Add two hours to crochet a border around it and bang!


Except that my crochet has not improved even a little bit and I’m going to be putting this particular blankie into the “playthings” category and the girls can use it to put stuffed animals ‘nite-nite’. I can’t even give this away, that’s how bad my crochet-work is. **sigh** Oh well. We all have our talents. Some of us more than others.

But don’t worry. I’m not about to become a machine knitter. While it is exciting to whump out that much fabric that fast, I’m more of a “process” knitter – I love the feel of individual stitches as they across my needles, I like the feeling of individual personal skill and frankly the fact that it slows me down a bit.

However, the “leftover” balls of yarn have been breeding like rabbits around here. I was forced to realize just how many of them I had when I was moving my stash around recently, and that my plans to “someday” make a bunch of squares to join together into an afghan (or two) (or ten) had better move toward the top of my To Do list.

Of course, making a bunch of squares to then sew together to make a blanket-thing is, to me, about as exciting as scrubbing the bathroom grout.

Enter the Ultimate Sweater Machine. Now that I know how it works, I think I can take all eleventy-billion tiny balls of miscellaneous yarns and produce however many squares to whip together into afghans before I have time to realize how mind-numbingly dull a task it really is. Go ahead. Ask me what I’m doing this weekend…why, I’m going to be removing about eleventy-billion balls of leftover baby acrylic and/or wool from my stash! And adding about eleventy-billion squares I intend to sew together into blankets!

And I will do it.


Although I think I’m going to knuckle down and do a knitted-on border on them. Because my crochet?

Lumpy moose piss.

Through a straw.

Sucks that bad.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

As Seen From Space

Well, I finished the hats. Yes, hats. There were three of them. Two in Noro and one in, uh, hmm. I sort of…forget.

See, here’s the thing. I did them rather quickly because they were Asked About. Whumped out all three of them over the weekend, and then I threw them into a priority mail box and tossed that at a passing postman, without pausing to say, “Perhaps I should take a picture of these!”

I was in a hurry, you see. Also, I was on Vicodin and thus perhaps not thinking clearly.

So you’ll just have to envision two hats in Noro here, and one in a very soft, very warm wool that is gently variegated blue and gray.

And then I moved on (or, more precisely, went back to) this, which is the Wool Peddler’s shawl from Cheryl Oberle’s Folk Shawls book:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This deceitful little number is one of the ones which starts with an innocent “Cast on 7 stitches” and then proceeds to grow and grow and grow as you go along. The row that took less than a minute at the start is now taking ten minutes and still it is growing.

This red wool has been sitting in my stash for about four years now, waiting for me to come up with something to do with it. It is a wool for grownup people who understand how to treat wool – hardy, yet fragile.

With proper treatment, this shawl could last for many generations. My great-great grandchildren will be arguing about who gets saddled with to keep great-great-gran’s mangy old shawl.

But if it is tossed into a washer even once, it will become a very nice felted tea cozy.

So I’ve decided that this one will be for me. This winter, I will prove just how dorky I am by wrapping it around myself when I dash out to pick up the Denizens from school. They will be mortified when they see me coming – which they will, because this red can be seen from about eleventy-million miles away.

This red right here is what they’re talking about in Proverbs when they say, When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

Yeah. There is no way anybody wearing this red is going to be able to get lost. No matter how hard they try. It could be spotted by satellite. Which I think would make an excellent selling slogan: “AS SEEN FROM SPACE!”

“This is rather rare, but…”

I think the only phrase I hate in medicine more than ‘as we age’ has got to be ‘this is rather rare, but…’

It is rare to get a dry socket in the first place, even rarer on an upper tooth extraction. However, it is slightly less rare when the extracted tooth is an “old” root canal tooth, and the rare-factor continues going down as things like the poor condition of the bone and greater-than-average violence of the extraction process are put into play.

So there you are. It is, indeed, a dry socket. And it does indeed hurt like a @*^&@. And there is little he can really do about it, other than continue to apply a new dental band-aid over the top of it every Tuesday and Thursday until it settles down.

The good doctor came into the exam room where I sat fidgeting and saying things like now, don’t get all melodramatic, just calmly tell the man how it feels… to myself, and he said cheerfully, “So, feeling better?”

I looked at him as if he had suddenly sprouted another head and blurted out, “NO! It hurts like @*^&@, actually!”

He looked very surprised and concerned. About four seconds and a glance into my mouth later he was wincing and muttering and asking his nurse to bring x cc’s of this and a tray of that and some of that jelly-pak™ stuff and also a vial of this other stuff and could she please call the pharmacy and order a refill of both the amoxicillin and the vicodin (I could have kissed him for that last one).

Now, when I had talked to the nurse last week, it wasn’t his nurse. His nurse had already gone home for the weekend. I talked to the advice nurse, which is about as helpful as walking up to a random person in WalMart and asking what they think you should do.

Himself was a touch annoyed with your faithful correspondent because, all jokes about crank calls aside, I did not actually call the nice man at home to whine about my face feeling as though I had been kicked by an irate mule; I also didn’t bother calling yesterday to beg for an emergency appointment, because I knew he was in his other office – the other office being about two hours roundtrip from here, and me without any babysitter available for the Denizens, I felt that overall it was less painful to just ride it out at home and wait for my Denizen-less appointment this morning.

So he shot me up with Novocain and removed the stitches (ouch) and poked around at the gaping hole in my jaw (OUCH!) and shot some more Novocain in there and tried to take a better look in there (AY YI YI WHAT ARE YOU A SADIST JESUS HOLY I MEAN GEEZ ARE YOU CRAZY?!?!) and then put a little more Novocain in there and also dripped a bunch into the hole and still I was basically >>this<< close to bursting into hysterics because, seriously, OW!, and finally we both just kind of took a deep breath and he ::!!QUICK!!:: packed it up with some antibiotics and Novocain-soaked cotton and then he slapped a collagen band-aid over the whole thing and we both sat back and regarded each other from beneath sweat-beaded foreheads and honestly – I think we each wished we had never laid eyes on the other.

Which is not really true. I’m very glad I’ve got this guy for this deal. He’s very skilled and I don’t think I could have had a better man for the job. Tooth #3 has apparently been infected off and on for eleven straight years, the bone is a hideous spongy mess in there and I can’t pretend I’m surprised that we have complications. Annoyed, yes. Surprised, no. I also got dry socket not once but twice before, which apparently is yet another twitch upward on the ‘how likely is it that you’ll get a dry socket after extraction’ scale.

I’m sorry he’s having to deal with this, because he’s not a person who likes pain.

I like that in a periodontist.

So now I’ve got to resist both diet Pepsi and poking at the bandage with my tongue, both of which are much harder than they sound. Mostly because they are absent-minded things for me to do.

See, if I had to think in order to do these things, I wouldn’t. But the fact that they are precisely the sorts of things you do when distracted by other things makes them almost impossible to quit doing.

In fact, I have had to scold my tongue for poking at it three times in just the last half hour.


This is going to be a looooooong couple weeks, people.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

You can have my stuff

Seriously, I’m dying. Y’all can have my stuff. I don’t care who gets what. Except that I want to be buried with my iPod shuffle and also that bracelet my girlfriend gave me this year. And I want to be buried in Homer the Odyssey, because I love that minivan with the red hot passion of a thousand suns.

Other than that, I don’t care. Take it. Mudwrestle for it. That’s right. Even my extensive collection of broken harp strings. They’re yours. Because where I’m going, I won’t need to be reminded about all the broken harp strings I need to replace before the new ones also break and leave me high and dry without a 0.028” blue string for that high ‘F’ that breaks so darned often.

It won’t matter.

Because I’m dying, and will never need to replace that freakin’ string again. It will pass to one of my daughters, I suppose. Or something. Whatever. I don’t care. Because I’m dying and have more important things to think about.

Well, actually I’m not dying. Or at least, I’m not dying any faster than I was last week.

I’m just not sure this is such a good thing, right at this exact moment.

I believe what I have here is something called dry socket. This condition occurs when instead of having a nice blood-clot “plug” to protect your ravaged bones, said bones are exposed to the air and whatever other fool thing you put into your mouth (like soda, rice, popcorn – the list goes on) and become rather annoyed about it because, being that they are BONES, they’d prefer to be safely ensconced within mile upon mile of nice, soft, bacteria-thwarting tissue.

The packing material the good dentist sewed over the hole in my jaw fell out less than 48 hours afterward, and it was about twelve hours after that that I became aware that, far from becoming “better”, my jaw was throbbing as if the world were ending and I could no longer eat anything that required even a little bit of light chewing.

Tomato soup, people. That’s what is on the menu right now. Tomato soup and ibuprofen. That’s it. Even the good drugs I insisted on getting can’t touch this (although they do make me more cheerful about being in pain). Fortunately (hmm, ok, I’m not entirely sure ‘fortunately’ is the word I really want here), my symptoms are not indicative of something requiring emergency morphine drip attention. It’s “just” the dry socket thing. Which will work itself out in time, but will feel a lot better after I see him on Tuesday and he can replace the packing material. Because he isn’t in the office until Tuesday. So this is the earliest I can see him.


Funny how something like 36 hours can seems so different depending on circumstances. If I had 36 hours to spend, say, in Hawaii, it wouldn’t be nearly enough. It would go by faster than a Thunderbird on maneuvers. So would 36 hours spent on a cruise ship, or at a spa resort, or in the Webs store.

But 36 hours to wait before I can see a dentist qualified to irrigate and repack my extracted molar?


Which is another word for ‘forever’.

And also possibly where I am going. You know. Eternal rest.

Seriously. I’m going to be the first person ever to have died of dry socket. MARK MY WORDS!

“Unfortunate but fairly common”, they said. “Oh, you poor thing – don’t worry, it won’t last forever”, they assured me. “Look honey, I hate to tell you this, but there’s really not a whole lot to be done about it – take your ibuprofen, we'll see you Tuesday, but really nothing but time will take care of the problem,” they sighed (with a touch of exasperation and probably wishing they hadn’t given me their home phone number).

Oh well. I’m going to bed, where I plan to lie awake all night comparing this to every other pain I’ve ever had in my life and perhaps crank calling my dentist.

“It’s 2:15 a.m., doc – do you know where your laughing gas is?!”

Yeah. I think he’s going to really, really regret giving me his home phone number…