Saturday, September 29, 2007


It's gone up!! I do not believe this - I want a re-take!!!!!! I was only 70-something last time...WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON HERE?! How do I become MORE nerdy when NOT working?!

I am nerdier than 90% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

And with the Fall comes…


Yes, children, it is once again time for that peculiar holiday strain of Knitting Fever to strike otherwise (at least mostly) rational knitters, and convince them that they can, in spite of jobs, children, housework and other pesky little day-to-day irritations, complete sixteen pairs of socks, five scarves, ten hats, twenty iPod holders AND five complicated Fair Isle sweaters between now and the ho-ho-holidays.

Knitting fever takes different forms at different times of the year. There is the sudden “need” for lighter yarns in Spring. There is the enthusiastic joining of complicated lace-knitting teams in summer, “when I’ll just have ever-so-much more time, being as the kids are out of school and all!”

I’ll give all you parents out there a moment to stop laughing.

OK, that’s enough.


You can stop laughing now.

Normal knitting fever is bad enough. Normal knitting fever causes things like…excessive stash accrual, or taking on projects we really know aren’t good for us but we just can’t help ourselves, because the pictures the Yarn Harlot posted were just ever-so-gorgeous and after all, how hard can a lace-weight shawl in five parts be? (Really, really, really hard.) (Do check out That Laurie’s guest-host series going on right now, though – the woman has mad skills.)

But I do believe that the Christmas strain of knitting fever stands out from the rest with its curious combination of joy, love, optimism, insanity and number-of-Valium-pills-needed-for-recovery. It’s OK to give that stinky coworker a stinky Jack In The Box giftcard – but for people we care about? Please. We want to give them a pair of socks that set us back $25 for the yarn and twenty hours worth of time! BECAUSE WE CARE, DAMMIT!

As the Fall Equinox came and went, my thoughts turned to the coming holidays and the list began to be made. To my credit, I actually do have a few things already knit and set aside – but to my embarrassment, the projects for the vast majority of my list are still ‘some assembly required’ (and in one notable case of refusal to be sensible about things, ‘some yarn purchasing required’).

Since we are allegedly painting in the bedroom next weekend (oh Lord, I can’t wait to tell y’all what we’re up to in here, but I will wait because right now I am on ‘knitting madness’, and I’m practicing my New Year’s Resolution to stay more focused), I’ve begun removing my stash from the open wire shelves (soon to be replaced with built-in cabinets, yay) and bagging it up for a few weeks storage. As I go, I’ve been making two basic piles: Yarn I’m going to need for Christmas gifts, and yarn I don’t need for Christmas gifts.

This afternoon I added another project to my Christmas knitting list; I added it with great enthusiasm, and rushed to picked out one of the more beautiful (which should be pronounced, ‘complicated’) patterns and went stash-cruising for the yarn and added it to the pile of things I’m setting aside specially for the Christmas knitting.

Perhaps it is because I have not had any booze today (booze helps with my suspension of disbelief), but as I added 2,200 yards of 2-ply yarn to that particular stack I was struck by the sheer size of it and, for a brief moment, I had Clarity.

There is no way this is all getting knit up. Unless I give up everything else through the holidays (don’t tempt me), there is just no way. It takes me twenty hours of knitting time (approximately) to make a pair of socks from start to finish, including time taken to sip coffee, go to the bathroom, make more coffee, you know – the essentials. I get an average of two hours a day of knitting time, sometimes more and sometimes less. This means that I have enough time for four pairs of socks, period.

Not four pairs of socks, two shawls, two sweaters (one teen-sized, one XXL mens) (!!), one scarf and one hat/scarf/gloves set! Not to mention that the Denizens, in spite of having declared their sweaters ‘too itchy’ last year, are asking me with alarming regularity about what I’m making them this year.

But rather than handle this like a sane person and say, “OK, so! I’ll be giving Person X a nice gift card, and Person B a book”, I’m making deals with the devil. BECAUSE I CAN TOTALLY DO THIS!!!

Now, if I stay up until 10:30 every night and bump the alarm back just a measly half hour to 4:00, and if I were to hire a maid service, and stock up the freezer with Kids Cuisine…

This is knitting-speak for AAAAAACHOOOOOOO!


I’ve got Knitting Fever, Christmas Edition.

What’s really hysterical about this is, my current project two three projects are not Christmas knitting. No! They are personal-private knitting! The Yawn-Worthy Raglan? Mine. The current Socks in Progress? Mine. And the hat I’ve been dithering with while reading blogs? Likewise mine – which is particularly hysterical because I do not like to wear hats. I just feel that I need one, because I know that they create a lot of warmth and I will want warmth the next time I go camping, which will not be soon or possibly before February, BUT IN FEBRUARY I WILL NEED A HAT.

That I have actually almost lost the tips of my ears in snowy climates rather than a wear a hat is lost on me right now. I HAVE THE NORO, AND I AM MAKING THE HAT - FOR ME. TO WEAR. IN FEBRUARY, WHEN NEXT I GO CAMPING.

You just can't argue with that great a lack of self-awareness, people. Believe me, I've tried. I know that I will knit this hat, and put it into my camping stuff, and when I get to the campsite in February I will take it out and look at it and say to myself, "That's a good warm hat in a glorious colorway - I should wear that!" and then I will stuff it under the seat of the car and pretend I lost it because I don't like to wear hats.

Undaunted, I say to myself that given my tendency to finish a sock a week just while waiting for children at assorted events, I will be fine on the socks. And all I need to do is add an extra hour (or twelve) to my daily knitting routine and I will certainly be able to finish all that other knitting (including not one but two fairly large and complicated shawls) by Christmas.


I am completely mental. But at least I can honestly say: It’s a sickness, and I cannot be personally held responsible for it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I am so un-hip

I was thinking today that I might want an iPod. Wait, I already have one. Well, I have a shuffle. But it doesn’t have a screen. I think I want a screen. Well, actually, what I want is to be able to make play groups, so that I can categorize my stuff on the iPod and then I can either play everything or I can say, “No, actually, I’m not in the mood for the Gregorian chants today, let’s stick with Celtic Fusion.”

Suddenly it dawned on me that I’m assuming one of the bigger iPods can do that – but I don’t actually know.

I have no iPod knowledge. None. I don’t know what any of them can do, or what the relative merits are of one over the other. I do know that paying $200 for what in my brain is a glorified Walkman (cripes, there I go, dating myself yet again) gives me the heebie-jeebies, but still. Screen and all…

And then, right when I thought I was getting my act together, they throw the ‘Touch’ at me and now I’m completely messed up again. WiFi, in an iPod? Soooooo, I can…surf the Internet…on the WiFi…but… “fees may apply”, so, um…OK, now I’m confused again. Can I actually use this thing, or only at Starbucks? Granted, if Captain Adventure does in fact get placed in preschool I might have a couple hours I could perch in Starbucks to do so, but, uh, well – I’m pretty sure my DSL here at the homestead is faster.

Or is it? I don’t know, how does the WiFi work in one of these things? I don’t know. I have no idea how the technology works, what the platform is, the speed and also whether or not I could, say, read the WSJ Online while sitting in the van waiting for some kid or other to come out and get in the van. (Some kid, any kid, as long as I end up with four – which is a fun game to play at daycare, by the way. “OK, so, I have four carseats, I need four kids…I’ll taaaaaaake…THIS one, and THAT one and…hmm…that one looks a little onery, maybe I’d better take someone else…got anything in the ‘cleans up her own messes’ category lying around?” “MOM-EEE!”)

Anyway. Yes. I am an iPod dufus. And also, I am utterly un-hip.

…maybe I should ask Eldest how these conflabbed dealies work – kids these days, THEY know this stuff…right…?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It works, but pisses me off

While I was sitting on the beach in the rain, knitting and watching the whales go by (bonus!), I was thinking about the level of Chaos in my house lately. The volume of things not getting done. The way that “somehow”, the entire day goes by and I find myself up to my knees in filth and paperwork wondering what, exactly, I was doing, all day long…(Seriously, you know it’s bad when it’s YOU asking that question, and not the long-suffering spouse!) (If he dared ask the same question, they’d never find the body!) (I have that much laundry. I can hide bodies in it. Indefinitely.)

The problem is obvious, which is why it took me a very long time to realize it.

I am not a person who works well without pressure. When I have limited time and a great deal to do in it, I’m a crackerjack. This includes both serious looming deadlines and the day-to-day grind of having to do the same stupid task before the same stupid meeting day in, day out.

However, when I have little or no pressure, when I have all day to do just these one or two things…I’ll sit around on my ever-expanding backside pondering stuff until suddenly and without warning, it is 8:30 at night and none of the kids have done homework, eaten or bathed. Worse, many days would go by with no knitting, none at all! Because I was busy. With the, uh, you know, the…well, there was stuff, and…

So I said to myself that what I needed to do, what this situation wanted, was for me to take a no-nonsense work-style approach to it.

Did I simply set tasks at work and say, “OK, and at some point today, I’ll get around to this”?

Shoot, no. I’d block them out on my calendar (in pencil), so whenever I found myself twiddling my thumbs saying, “OK, what next…” I could glance over and see what I’d thought I would be doing around that time.

Now, I’m not going to schedule doing the dishes for 8:45 to 9:15 Monday through Friday. But what I did decide to do was to give myself certain general tasks for different time periods throughout the day. Housework while everybody (except Captain Adventure) is in school; make the early dinner preparations and clean the kitchen between kindergarten and second grade pickup, and also make phone calls, read endless supply of magazines, trade rags, yarn catalogs and other things marked “urgent” and other “miscellaneous household running” tasks.

After the last pickup, I get into the ‘free play’ period.

It’s actually working out great from a ‘things are getting done’ perspective. Many areas that were hopelessly clogged with dust or toys are seeing the light of day again, and many spiders have been saved from having to pay property taxes – it was a very near thing, as their webs had become ‘permanent structures’ and I’m pretty sure some guy from the city was walking around making notes about them the other day. I’m pretty sure they were two seconds from receiving an assessment notice from the county tax collector.

But I saved them from that hardship. Wiped down those webs in brisk, methodical movements.

The kids are being fed more regularly, dinner is being made, the dishes are spending more time clean than dirty and I’ve made some significant headway on the raglan sweater. Thank goodness, because I am getting almighty tired of the stockinette. I’m most of the way through the front now and will be casting on both sleeves at once for the illusion of being done faster. But I digress.

The thing I hate about it is two-fold. The first is, I don’t get nearly as many hours fooling around don the computer as I used to, and I miss it. I have to be more selective about what-all I do, and spend less time surfing around You-Tube watching silly home movies of other people’s pets doing cute things.

I KNOW. It cuts me to the quick, too.

And the other is, I really kind of despise being disciplined. Being responsible. Doing what I ought to do, what I know I will be glad I did, and leaving all the other “fun-fun-fun” stuff for last.

But of course, I have to recognize that the reason I’m so short on “fun” time is because I’ve neglected my business for it for lo these many months. I’ve put off all the work until “later” while I was goofing off on the Internet or getting sidetracked in any of a million ways.

I am an expert at getting sidetracked. I excel at it. In fact, I’m thinking of ringing up Harvard and demanding that I be given a PhD in Sidetrackology, the Science of Digression. As the Supreme High Priestess of it, I don’t expect I should have to take any classes. Take classes, PAH! One of my superior subject-matter knowledge scoffs at the very idea! Like this: PAH!

Anyway. Yeah, I’m behind because I’ve been messing around and not getting the job done. The housework won’t really take me three-plus hours every weekday to stay on top of, any more than I need two hours every day to read my newspapers and magazines. It’s just that I’m so far behind, I’ve got to make up time before I can make any headway.

The day will come, and it will come soon, when instead of “every day”, I’ll be setting aside two or three days for the housework, and another one or two for the reading and phone-call-making and such.

Already I’ve got more headway than I expected; I just need to screw my courage (and attention span) to the sticking place, and stay firm.

Even when faced with things like cute puppy dog pictures and urban legend emails that need proper researching.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Well, but that’s DIFFERENT!

I just bought some new t-shirts today. Actually, by “new” I mean “new to me”. SEE, I realized while doing laundry that I was short on “normal wear” shirts. It seems that if you wear the same five shirts day in and day out for months on end, they will eventually wear out and/or acquire fatal staining which renders them indecent for public wear. Who knew?!

My first thought was CafĂ© Press, because there are a few amusing shirts I’ve snickered at in the past. And then I thought about spending $16, $20, $25 per shirt and instead dodged into Goodwill for a quick tour of the racks. I got four good quality t-shirts for $11 (thicker fabric, don’t say “Salafari Family Reunion: Georgia 1997” on them) and I doubt any of them were actually worn by anyone before they fell into my greedy little hands.

Yet I was grouchy, because $11 for four thrift-store shirts is a little steep, doancha think? I mean! There’s this big thrift store (in a really nasty area of a pretty rough-n-tumble town) that sells t-shirts for fifty cents apiece, for cripes sake! $2.75 each for t-shirts, pah! Shouldn’t be any more than a buck, and that’s pushing it!!!

…grouses the woman who dropped over $200 on yarn in a spontaneous act of ‘ooooh, and this would make a gorgeous shawl and these socks would be heavenly and is that alpaca?!’…

I am a big-spending cheapskate.

Oxymoron: It’s not just a word, it’s a lifestyle.

Monday, September 24, 2007

And now it is tomorrow

Today went about as well as could be expected, which is not all that great, but we all made it through in one piece so whoopee and pass the chocolate.

Every Monday, as I believe I have ranted (at great length) before, is an ‘early release day’ for our particular school. Some schools have these on Wednesday. Some on Friday. We drew Monday.

On the one hand, I’m glad it’s only one day a week, and the SAME day every week. Because if they moved this around on me, I’d be doomed. On the other, well, guess what day was chosen as the best day for Captain Adventure’s speech therapy? Oh yes. Monday.

And yes. I was thrown out of the room today. In the nicest way possible, of course. But while his therapist was trying to get him settled, he kept coming over to me in the corner, taking me by the hand and dragging me back over to them.

“Oh, heh heh, I was gone this weekend, he’s slightly more clingy than usual,” I announced.

“Oh! Well, you know what, let’s just have you go ahead and leave then!” she replied brightly. So I gathered my things, gave him a peck on the noggin and went into exile in the waiting area.

Captain Adventure did fine. Me, I was freaked out. I spent the first few minutes listening intently to see if I could hear wild screaming or other sounds of distress. Nothing. Eventually I sat down and behaved myself until she threw open the door, and he barely acknowledged my return. Granted, there were stickers happening, and choosing a sticker is a heady matter not to be interfered with by silly stuff like your mother returning from whatever mysterious place she vanished off to without a trace.

He did actually talk to her (a little) (at least, enough to get a goldfish ‘cwak-quer’), and apparently treated my disappearance as big old “so what”.

Honestly. You just never know, ya know? Sometimes, I can’t even go to the danged bathroom here in our very own house without the final scene from Gone With the Wind being replayed on the other side of the door (“Mommy! Mommy! Whatever shall I do?! {swoon!}”). Other times, I leave him with a relative stranger in a relatively strange place and completely leave the room, perhaps for a trip to Mars, and he’s all like, “Whatever, woman – bring cwak-quers when you come back, eh?”

But it is encouraging, too. I'm already delighted that we haven't had a repeat of the extreme anxiety he had after my trip to Arizona a few months ago, and having him willing to let me just walk on out of the room the day after I got back from another weekend away is marvelous. He's making huge strides, for such a little guy.

Now if I can just get over MY separation anxiety, we'll be golden...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I haz been bad

This was “my” weekend, you know, the every-other-month-I-don’t-gotta-deal-with-no-children weekend, right? It arrived not a moment too soon, because I was on a collision course with the train of Crazy.

So I went camping! Which conjures up all kinds of rugged images, don’t it? Yes, just Woman v. Nature, roughing it! Out there! In the wilderness! With only my WITS to protect me!!!!

Yeah, well, wits…and 24 hour security patrols…and hot showers…and a ‘kamping kitchen’…and a full-stocked onsite store in case I forgot anything…and a food court in case I couldn’t get my camping stove working…yeah, I was at a KOA.

So there I was, camping near the beach, having a wonderful !and also cheap! weekend. Because camping, even with all the luxuries of the KOA (and this is a particularly nice KOA – Manchester Beach, check them out if you’re heading to the Mendocino area – they’re about 30 miles south of Mendocino itself and you save big $$$ by being in a less precious area), is less expensive than a hotel room. And if you stick to the campsite and don’t head into town for meals and such, well. It’s positively downright inexpensive.

Sunday morning, I packed up all my stuff and headed toward home. Congratulating myself, by the way, because this trip had to be the absolute cheapest trip EVER. I had been soooo good. I resisted everything from buying a burrito instead of eating what I’d brought to loading up my weekend with fun (but expensive, and stressful) “events”.

Time to head home!

By way of Mendocino!

Where the Mendocino Yarn Shop is!

I thought I was safe because it is a Sunday. Sunday, the Holy Day of No Yarn P0rn, during which yarn stores are closed so that we may meditate on our eternal salvation – lead me not into hoarding, for that way lies madness…

But purely for the sake of science, I decided to glance in the windows to see what kind of yarn store this was. You know, so that I could report back if anyone were to ask. “Oh yes, I saw that they had a bunch of {whatever}, but they were closed, it being Sunday and all…”

They were technically not open until 11; but I walked up at 10:15 and they said, “C’mon in!” and I said don’t mind if I do and well, there was a birthday sale for the owner (who is a doll) (curse her) and…well…

I haz been baaaaaaaad.



Behold…the yarn p0rn…and on a Sunday! …I am so ashamed…

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Nashua Handknits 75% wool / 25% alpaca, in a beautiful aubergine. This is divinely soft, with a great blend of “sturdy” from the wool and “soft” from the alpaca.

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A bag of Needful Yarns London Tweed (95% wool / 5% viscose), in a passionate red tweed.

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Five balls of Rowan Tapestry (70% wool / 30% soybean protein fiber), misty gray variegated.

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Two bags (what? don’t look at me like that, there’s only five balls per bag) of Classic Elite Skye Tweed, 100% wool in a brown tweed (duh, ya think it might be ‘tweed’, considering it’s called “Skye TWEED”?)

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I have no idea why I felt the need to buy four balls of sock yarn. Maybe it was because about the first thing I did at the beach was get soaked to my knees by a rogue wave (unintentionally, and while wearing the only pair of shoes I brought because I am a dunce) and all my socks were damp and subconsciously I was thinking, “I need more wool socks.” Anyway – here are two pairs of good wool socks, some assembly required.

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Books were also on sale. These are two that I’ve circled like a vulture for a while but always ended up walking away from: Knitting Over the Edge, and The Green Mountain Spinnery Knitting Book. Now I own them, and don’t need to worry about them getting away like some other knitting books have done.

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And this…this is just plain random. This is one crummy ball of Trendsetter Tonalita. I think it was the sudden splash of fuchsia that did me in. Otherwise this is a very plain and sensible “autumn” kind of colorway – and then there is this big old splash of fuchsia. Everywhere I drove up and down the coast this weekend, there were these little splashes of that same color. I have no idea what flower it was (some kind of lily?), but they were beautiful, surprising !very! !bright! !pink! gems.

I saw that same splash in this yarn and grabbed the ball off the shelf like a starving person seizing the last loaf of bread off the shelf.

Sooooo, the weekend went from being Super Cheap to Super Not So Cheap…but there are a lot of hours of knitting pleasure in there, so I’m not sad. I also console myself with the (insane) idea that Christmas is coming, and that I could so totally make groovy things out of all of this for Christmas presents, thereby turning what might be perceived by the uninformed as a ‘wild-eyed random yarn purchase’ into a ‘proactive holiday purchasing event’.

Really, I ought to go into marketing, don’t you think?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow

Against my better judgment, I have not actually run away from home. I’m still here. I’m just having a really rotten week. You know, one of those weeks where no matter how simple you try to make your day, it somehow ends up being a huge knotted mess? And there are no clean dishes in the entire house? The kind of week where you forget to make a phone call and it ends up costing you $200 for a missed appointment?

That kind of week.

Also, I got the official summary from the speech therapist today. It wasn’t surprising, and yet at the same time it kind of was. She rates Captain Adventure at about fifteen to seventeen months for his speech and language skills, but up to a staggering five years old for his cognitive skills.

Brilliant, but silent. Acutely aware, but locked inside his own mind. I take comfort in the great strides he’s already made in communication, but at the same time thinking about him being essentially still at an infant level when he “should” be potty training and arguing with me about colors makes me feel like cashing out my hand and letting somebody more qualified take over the mommy gig – while I buy myself a trashed-out Westy and go off in search of the perfect wave.

Anyway, he is in like Flynn for the special needs programs; we have a date set for the in-home evaluation and after that we’ll have the Final Word on what we do next. Might just be thrice-weekly speech therapy sessions in a one-on-one setting, or it might be full immersion into a three hour daily special-needs preschool.

Hurry up, and wait.


I had to tear out the raglan sweater and start over, and! I think I have a cold coming on.

It’s just not a good week around here, I’m telling ya. Mars is messing with my karma or something, I dunno. I’m just walking around with a little black cloud of chaos and disaster hanging over me. Everything I put my hand to goes awry right now. And everything I don’t put my hand to pokes me in the middle of the night and says, “Pssst! Hey! Over here! You didn’t {clean me, put me away, deal with me, answer me, fix me}!”

Also, my children are making me a crazy person. Sure, I usually get tired by the end of the day and start wishing they’d just shaddup and go to bed already, but this week has been more like, “The minute they get out of bed, I wish they were in boarding school somewhere far, far away.”

Their little voices are like fingernails on chalkboard, and the way they constantly seek me out (no matter how cleverly I hide) for interaction is rubbing my psyche raw.

You know that old saying, “When momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”?

It is actually a terrible, terrible curse. My mood affects the entire household. When I get pissy, Lord have mercy, we are ALL pissy. When I am depressed, the whole household spins out of control. Even when I am working my butt off to keep my mood from spilling over onto my Denizens, they sense the underlying turmoil and start kicking at their tresses.

It’s enough to make a saint swear.

And I ain’t no saint.

ANYWAY. It is now getting late and my house looks like a @*&^@ing cesspool. But I’m tired, and I don’t think I’m going to even tidy up the kitchen tonight.

In fact, I think I’m going to leave everything right where it is currently lying and go to bed. Deal with tomorrow, tomorrow.

It’s just been that kind of week around here. I don’t know that tomorrow will somehow magically be better…but I do know that eventually, for no apparent reason, one of these tomorrows will just be better.

Life is like that. At least, it is for me. A constant stream of ups, downs, and in-the-middles. Sometimes there are reasons, sometimes there aren’t; or there are, but you just can’t grasp what they are – hormones or biorhythms or who knows what.

All I know is, what goes up must come down and vice versa. I come to the end of my rope only to find I’m back at the beginning of it.

So when I get to the end and think I’m sliding off – I just tie a knot and hang on. Wait for tomorrow, no matter what I think it’s going to be like…because while it might be just as bad as today, it might also be that other tomorrow, when things start going the way I want again.

It just might be that way, tomorrow. At some point, it will be – so why not tomorrow? No matter how bad today was, tomorrow has the potential to be that tomorrow, when it all turns around and I can feel powerful and accomplished again. And if I look forward to every tomorrow, if I get out of bed and give every tomorrow the chance to BE that tomorrow, well. It's more likely to come true, yes?

Yes. The glass of milk Captain Adventure spilled into the sofa tonight was indeed half full, why do you ask?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Knitting Geek Heaven

I got my invitation to Ravelry! Eeeeee! I’m on as MotherChaos over there, too. I’ve been having a marvelous time playing around with everything, although as usual I am somewhat lacking in free time to do so.

However, when I started working on inputting my stash, well, I hit a wall. I can’t steal the pictures of others to put up on Ravelry, and the idea of taking each of my beauties out of storage, photographing, uploading to Flickr and then dragging that into the little box gave me a serious need to lie down, immediately.

While ordinarily the idea of spending a day (or two) (or five) playing with my stash would set my little heart a-quiver…I just spent many, many hours cleaning out and organizing the upstairs built-in and my desk this weekend. This is what I started with out in that hall, people:


And now, it is a lovely example of half-empty, well-dusted and even lemon-oiled perfection. The trash can is overflowing, as is the Goodwill bin. The things I found in there boggled my mind – like sunscreen with an expiration date of 1992.

Seriously. Think about that one for a minute.

I also cleaned off my desk and did, in fact, spend a little time tidying up my stash, which had begun leaping off the wire shelves last week because I had been neglecting it so badly.

So you can see why I don’t feel like tackling any new projects which smack of organizing right immediately now, yes?! I’ll get around to it. Eventually.

In other-other news, I finished the Socks in Progress:

Sassy Stripes

This is Cascade Sassy Stripes #713, a super-warm blend of 75% superwash Merino and 25% nylon. They were fun to knit and went surprisingly fast, and I have to say they feel marvelous on my feet. Although considering how much time I spend sitting around waiting for one kid or another to be finished with something, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that my portable projects are going a bit faster now.

The raglan sweater is **yawn** worthy, but moving along fast. I took this picture last night…


…and I am already at 12” on the back, a scant 2.5” away from starting that drastic shaping for the raglan sleeves. I’ve done so many socks and sportweight projects lately that the speed of the larger needles is surprising me. It is also great knitting for right-before-bed and in the brain-dead calm of morning. I spent about forty-five minutes this morning just zoning out watching incense smoke drift and knitting away. I’ve been doing so many “interesting” projects lately (“interesting” should be pronounced “challenging and/or frustrating and/or needlessly complex”) that I’d almost forgotten how good it can feel to just knit and see progress right away.

In other vital news (ahem), I’ve decided (after it fell on my head repeatedly while I was pulling out other things to put up on Ravelry) that the new Socks in Progress will be in Zitron Life Style, #1860 - this is a slightly thicker yarn than I’ve been using lately for socks, and I think I’ll be using a shockingly huge #3 needle instead of the #1s that I’ve been carrying around with me like some kind of very skinny life preserver for months now.

Naturally, the difference is indiscernible to the normal human eyeball, which is why the last time I was knitting socks with #3 needles and someone said, “Ohmygosh, I’ve never seen anybody knitting with such tiny needles!” (which is one of the top five things said to me when I’m knitting socks in public) I blurted out, “Whaddyatalkinbout, these are, like, a whole millimeter bigger than the ones I usually use!”

To which they naturally reply, “{blank stare}”

Because normal people do not think of a millimeter as being significant enough to measure, and they certainly can not tell, by feel alone, the difference between something which is 2.25 millimeters and something which is 3.25 millimeters. Which I discovered quite by accident that I can do when I was rummaging around in my purse one day, grasped a DPN and the promptly let it go muttering, “No, that’s gotta be at least a 3mm, where’s my 2.25…?”

Which I suspect puts me in a class of Knitting Geekdom all my very own.

ANYWAY. It is nearly time to start another week of the non-stop Action! And also EXCITEMENT! that is my life.

…said the woman who just filled two pages discussing organizing she did and did not do and what socks she plans to cast on next…

Saturday, September 15, 2007


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Holy Blast from the Past, Batman!!

I’ve been cleaning out that upstairs built-in this morning. There has been much sneezing, because much of what is in there has not been disturbed, even a little tiny bit, in the eight years since we moved in.

Among all that undisturbed stuff, I found a small binder. Inside the binder…my financial papers from 1995.

On September 30, 1995, I had the following account balances:

Business Checking Account: $2,024.84
Personal Checking: $867.24
Personal Savings: $1,277.70
Boyfriend’s Checking Account: $0 (snort!)

Total assets: $4,169.78.

Of which $2,024.84 was for my business – not a whole lot of cash to run a business on, eh? Notably missing: retirement savings and emergency funds. That $1,277.70 was only half of what I needed for the month – it barely covered October’s rent. **sigh**

But this is the part that gave me the jolt. LIABILITIES:

Discover Card: $4,343.40
First Card: $7,212.27
First USA: $5,548.21
MBNA: $5,468.89
Chevron Card 1: $1,183.18
BOA Mastercard: $1,566.27
BOA Visa: $3,707.02
Chase Visa: $5,319.71
Colonial National Visa: $2,800.36
Second Discover: $2,379.23
USAA: $1,634.31
Chevron Card 2: $650.52
Personal Loan 1: $544.02
Personal Loan 2: $16,000.00
Personal Loan 3: $1,273.95

Total liabilities: $59,631.37

All of the credit cards were at 19.99% or more; the personal loans varied between 9% and 21%.

Good. Grief.

Four months later, my old van unexpectedly yakked up it’s carburetor and died. Well. By “unexpectedly”, what I mean is, “in spite of my youthful conviction that faith and trust could keep a vehicle running in perfect condition, it did in fact also need pixie dust – which was very unexpected.”

So a $10,000 car loan was added to that lot. Oddly, I ended up with a new car rather than a used one because, well, my ‘asset’ situation had not improved, and I couldn’t get a used car loan!

Funny how that worked…want to get a loan for a $3,000 used car? HA! HAHAHAHAHA! We LAUGH in your face! HA!

Want to get a $10,000 loan for a new one? Sign here, and here, and here and heeeeere’s your keys! Congratulations! Let’s all do the happy-happy dance and pose for a picture!

THEN, within a few months after that, my husband's truck shot its rods right across the parking lot and likewise died. Enter a new Civic, and another new car loan – this one for $20,000.

There are times when I’m writing something about debt reduction and I put down, “We had $60,000 in credit card debt, and $30,000 in car loans when I got serious about debt reduction…”, and I pause for a moment to mutter, That can’t be right…we never REALLY had that much did we?

Yes, we did.


And my early efforts were so bad we actually added debt rather than taking away – at the absolute worst, we had $65,000 on the cards.


When I look around my neighborhood at all the abandoned houses, their browned lawns and spider-web-sealed garage doors, their fences knocked down by marauding teenagers and homeless people looking for a place to crash or party or both, I see what we so narrowly escaped.

Escaped so far, anyway. I often feel like we are just a few bad decisions away from joining our ruined neighbors in their exodus.

The price of freedom is indeed eternal vigilance. Sometimes I get almighty tired of worrying about day to day decisions, and I want to just throw credit cards at problems, real or imagined, as they come up. Don’t care how, just make it go away. Here’s my card. Tell me where to sign.

The card issuers are happy to help me out. They’re delighted to offer me balance transfers, to allow me to have vacations I can’t afford, new lamps and shoes and anything else my little heart desires. One affordable monthly payment at a time, they help me…right into slavery.

Unless I stay vigilant. Unless I keep a firm hand on my whims. Unless I keep my wits about me, and focus on discerning what is a need, and what is merely a want - and act accordingly.

Damned tiring, sometimes.

But even more tiring is sitting up late at night after coming home from the second job trying to figure out how to make a $1,200 check cover $1,400 in bills, or what I’m going to do for food this month, seeing as how the larder is bare – and the checkbook even emptier.

Well, the built-in won’t finish cleaning itself (unfortunately). I’ve already got a huge pile of things to shift off to Goodwill, and another pile that is Just Plain Trash – and a few empty shelves, even! With any luck, I’ll get this area finished with another hour-long burst of energy…c’mon, energy…energy? Hellloooooo?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Oh, Angst!

Pass the cheese, y’all, I’m having me a real good whine. (Angst humor. It’s like band humor, only lamer.)

I have been cleaning hour after hour every single day this week. Go ahead. Ask me what I did for six hours Tuesday? Cleaned the house. And Wednesday? Ditto. And today? Well, actually, today I only spent three hours cleaning because I ran a bunch of errands with Captain Adventure and Boo Bug today. BUT YOU GET THE IDEA.

Does my house reflect this matronly effort?

Oh, hell no.

It looks as though a herd of elephants charged through it. Right after they had had a real good wallow in the waterhole, followed by a nice sand bath.

I am so tired of being embarrassed by my house it is looming on ludicrous. Seriously, the lady from California Closets unexpectedly wanted to do some measurements in here today (I thought I was just signing over the souls of my first two children in exchange for the closet and ‘library’ thing in the bedroom), making sure she had everything right for the (ahem) solution to the mess problem, or at least that is the fantasy, and I was all like, “Oh, sorry about the mess, heh heh, it’s not usually THIS bad {liar liar pants on fire} oh let me just get that um I’ll just put this erm heh heh yeah, let me just get that MOUNTAIN O’CRAP shoved over here so you can get to the damned WALL…”

So. Embarrassed.

And then she said, “Do you want me to take measurements for that student center, so I can draft it up and…” and I shrieked out, “NO! NO! Heh heh, no, that’s OK, I think we’re good for now…let’s just take this one big payment at a time, huh?”

But it wasn’t that I feared another quote. It was the mess down the hall. I wanted to shield her eyes from the hideous mess, because she is an innocent young thing with many years of neatly organized living ahead of her.

Some things are just not appropriate for one of her tender years.

I wish I could just not give a damn. Or actually go the rest of the way crazy and let it all pile up, maybe start taking in random cats and sit in my fur-encrusted rocking chair working on baby sweaters until my (grown) children call in Filth Busters to dig me out.

So I already had a bit of angst going for me this afternoon about how I couldn’t get my house cleaned up and maybe, just maybe, I should just give up. Because seriously? This is getting really, really, REALLY old. Especially since I seem to be cleaning the same areas over and over and over and over and over…

About then, Captain Adventure shaved about ten years off my life by running – RUNNING! – into the kitchen with a pair of scissors waggling from his mouth.

The child was running with the points of scissors shoved into his mouth, people. I mean, really! “Don’t run with scissors” should be enough right there. “Don’t run with scissors IN YOUR MOUTH” is a warning that should be genetically unnecessary. Seriously. OK, try this. Take a pair of scissors, and put the point of them into your mouth. SEE? Do you SEE how uncomfortable that makes you feel?! This is because, at the DNA level, your body knows that this is an extremely stupid thing to do!!

But my son? RUNS, with scissors in his mouth.

My heart stopped. I swear, it did. Once I finished the initial shriek-sputter-n-grab routine, I naturally had some questions! It took a great deal of back and forth to discover that Danger Mouse had found the scissors among the piles of “stuff” on the built-in upstairs, which I thought it was all linens, outgrown jackets and photo albums – but apparently, there are also tools and perhaps bombs in there. Who knows?!

When my heart decided to start pumping again (about an hour later, when everybody was in bed), I just sat here with a glass of wine and stared at my computer screen for a while.

Ya know…this place is not a home. It is an asylum. It is where the crazy-people are kept. I am merely one of the inmates.

Perhaps the most dangerous of them, at that.

I feel pulled in opposite directions, all the time. On the one hand, well, when I dream of hitting the open roads – I want a Volkswagon Westy – you know, the pop-top camper? Not a 300’ RV with satellite and so forth. A Westy, with a porta-potty and a solar shower. No TV, no onboard navigation system, no fancy “climate control system” or leveling jacks. Just your basic no-frills camping, thanks all the same. Keep it simple, keep it easy.

But on the other hand, I do, in fact, have ‘seasonal’ linens. I even have special Christmas dishes. And also Autumn dishes, bought to pad out the “real” dishes during the Thanksgiving season, and THEN I bought a huge set of (cheap but sturdy) white things to pad out both sets because This One Time I had thirty people coming for Thanksgiving…

You see? You see how…completely psycho this is?!

On the one hand, I value simplicity and the ‘less is more’ attitude. On the other, I have definitely caught the Affluenza virus. Oh, I may not have the raging, out-of-control case of it…but I’ve got the early sniffles.

And worse, I have the Keepsies. You know, where you’ve got something you don’t want or need, but you can’t get rid of it? Usually for some stupid reason?

Like, for perfect example, I have this huge, profoundly ugly quilt (currently part of the “stuff” piled up on top of the built-in). I have never used it for any purpose. It was made by a friend’s aunt. Said friend presented it to me, saying, “Oh, my aunt made me another one of these damned things – I thought you could give it a good home.”

I have never used it. No guest has ever used it. But do I give it to Goodwill? No! Because somebody’s auntie made it!!


Ach well. What-ya-gonna-do? Except get to bed, because tomorrow? There will be more cleaning. More organizing. More attempting to declutter. More picking up the same damned trash from the same damned surfaces. And probably my children will give me heart failure again, and it is entirely likely that I will find myself, though armed with determination not to, putting things I don’t need or even want back into the cupboards because some friend’s distant relation gave it to them and therefore it has some kind of sentimental thing going…even though this friend has never again mentioned the ugly old thing in the seven years it has lurked in my cupboard…

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


OK, so, the camera, I’ve got. The card that goes in the camera, however…well. Therein lies a story. (Naturally.) My husband “borrowed” the high-tech whatnot that plugs into my computer to suck the pictures from the card – the card was in the whatnot at the time.

Where the card ended up is anyone’s guess at this point.

Whiiiiich is why there are no pictures of it yet – but I finished Captain Adventure’s sweater last night. It is not the most interesting sweater I’ve ever made, being just blue and gray stripes with a typical v-neck finish – but it’s cute.

And he won’t wear it, even to try it on.

The child who loves to go through his drawers putting on every piece of clothing he owns (“Oh! ‘Ert [shirt]! ‘Ert ON! ‘Ert OFF!”) will not put it on. Every time I’ve tried to get him to model it, he shrieks in horror and runs away. Or throws himself on the floor and wails.

Just you wait, you little twerp – it’s gonna get cold, soon! You will thank your mother, OH YES YOU WILL, for the nice superwash-wool sweater.

You just wait.

In a related story, at his speech therapy session I parked myself in a corner and took out my Sock In Progress in an effort to keep myself from interrupting constantly (“He can actually say ‘baa-baa’, I swear he can…Captain Adventure, say ‘baa-baa’!”) (I predict it won’t be long before I am physically banished from the room during his sessions).

At the end of the session, his therapist said to me, “So, are you one of those ‘uber-knitters’ who can make sweaters and things?”

Without batting an eye (or pausing to let my brain come out of neutral and drive the conversation), I said, “Oh, yeah. I can knit anything.”

And then the clutch popped into gear and my brain woke up and said, Oh, that was smooth. Why don’t you also claim to have invented blogging AND the stock market…?

Of course, I then had to attempt to downplay the arrogance of my statement. Which, as we all know, does nothing but make the whole thing worse. But do I ever learn? NO. Pretty soon, my face blooming a fabulous shade of red, I ground to an awkward halt and sputtered something like, “It’s all just two stitches, after all: knits and purls. Ha ha ha. Heh. Yeah.”


Fortunately, she is not one of those people who gets all huffy when someone claims mastery of something (erroneously, by the way – see any and all attempts by your faithful correspondent to make lace for examples of not being able to knit “anything”).

Unfortunately, I think she believed me. We are not a big community out here. Having people talk about “that master knitter whose kids are in Ms. X, Y and Z classes, who is here at 8:00, 8:20, 11:40, 2:20 and 2:55 daily” could become somewhat detrimental to my ability to get right back home to get on the housework.


On second thoughts, maybe I’ll have cards made up, perhaps a few t-shirts printed. “Got knitting questions? ASK ME!”


Being done with that project, and the Sock In Progress perilously close to finished, I had to pick a new project right away. I approached my yarn stash eagerly!

After digging out from the avalanche that hit me when I tugged unwisely at a skein of Atacama which was apparently the only thing holding up forty-seven balls of merino due consideration of options, I’m doing…another boring sweater.

I’ve pulled out a bag of Lane Borgosesia Maratona, a 100% extra fine merino in a gray-brown tweed. This is a cabled yarn rather than a straight ply, which means it looks a lot like cotton – like it was braided rather than spun. It is deliciously soft, has an annoying tendency to split (if my swatch is any indication), but it feels so lovely that I’m willing to forgive it already.

I’m going to be making a simple raglan pullover with a standard round neck on it; about the only “interesting” thing I’m plotting for it is a cabled rib rather than straight knit-purl style.

Do try to contain your excitement.

The end result should be a good, sensible sweater that goes with anything I might wear with it (*cough-jeans-cough*) that is super-warm. It should knit up nice and fast on #8 needles, too, so I might actually have it before the cold weather descends. Which believe it or not, happens up here in Northern California.

And that is the knitting news in (mostly) brief. Tune in tomorrow, for the complaints about splitting, the wondering why I thought raglan was a good idea and how the cabled rib just isn’t as awesome as I thought it would be…

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Oh goody, I get to do the laundry list

I think I am suffering from post-vacation-dear-$DEITY-I-forgot-how-much-real-life-sucks stress disorder. Or something like that. I’m sure the professionals would have a long, vaguely-Latin-ish word for it.

For a few days, I had no children. I ate meals while they were hot. Beds magically made themselves. Some mysterious hand turned down my sheets at night and left chocolates on my pillow. I did not wash a single dish or deal with any screaming children. I lounged, people. I went to a pool and didn’t have to rescue anybody from Certain Death by Drowning. I drank too many mai tais one night and got a hangover. Which oddly, I rather enjoyed. “Oh goody, I overindulged, isn’t it grand?!”

Hmm, yeah. That’s, uh, really great. Congratulations…I guess…

And then I came home. My house is cluttered, my vehicles are filthy, Boo Bug is throwing up today and of course everybody is in trouble at school. Even Captain Adventure, who doesn’t technically go to school yet – he refused to say even one sound for the nice speech therapist yesterday.

He then promptly said all of them to me on the way home. And laughed, mightily. I swear it was like he was saying, “Hey, mom, wasn’t it hysterical, when she was all like, ‘say baa-baa’, and I was all, like, just staring at her and some junk? Baa-baa! HA! Yeah, right, like I’m going to say ‘baa-baa’ just cause she wants me to, har-dee-har-har-HAR…”

Little twerp.

You really can judge how good a vacation was by how pitiful your life seems when you get home.


Having resisted a time share opportunity and recovered from my hangover, I got home and looked around here and thought to myself, Holy crap, how did it get this bad?

I’m not just talking about the general clutter and dirt. Honestly, I’m not all that bad there. (Well, I don’t think so, anyway – I’m sure Martha Stewart would require smelling salts at the very least and possibly a lengthy stay in hospital over the state of things around here.)

It’s more that my list of Things I Will Get Around To Eventually is getting to a length that is making me think of things like… If all of these tasks were written down on postcards, and those postcards were laid end-to-end…how many times would they circumnavigate the planet?

The thing that makes this a bad, even sad, thing is that it isn’t that I’m jotting this stuff down and then cheerfully working my way through the list.

Things go ON the list.

Things never seem to come OFF it.

Instead, I sit around brooding about them. Stupid cluttered up hallway built-in and our front yard looks like a danged ghetto and would it kill us to wash the van once in a while and how come nobody ever cleans off that secretary and how the hell long has THIS been sitting here and OH FER THE LOVE OF GAWD, am I really looking at a cupboard so crammed full of crap we don’t need or use or even really want that it can’t be closed?!

I get upset, but I don’t get moving. And lately I’ve spent way more time worrying about what my husband is(n’t) doing than getting things moving.

Maybe it’s human nature, when faced with a Herculean task, to glance over your shoulder at all the people who aren’t shoveling out the Augean stables and mutter about it.

Curious thing is, all that worrying about who is(n’t) doing what doesn’t really do a danged thing for me, except make me vaguely angry all the time. And oddly, I can manage to be very much extremely upset that he is sitting on his butt on the couch watching TV instead of {insert task of choice here, there are thousands to choose from}…which resenting I am doing while sitting on my butt in my computer chair playing a video game or reading knitting blogs.

Yeah, I find that pretty amusing, too. In a darkly ironic kind of way.

Meanwhile, the yard still looks like we’ve abandoned the house (but left the water on – it’s green, but wildly overgrown) (I think it has actually been well over a month since the lawn has been mowed and/or the leaves removed…) (except that I did sweep and wash down the front porch last week – I have my principles, people, I have my principles… “Never y’all mind all the weeds along the side of the house, the leaf-covered lawn and the bird-poop encrusted driveway! Just step right on up this spic-n-span walkway and wipe your feet on my freshly washed mat!”)

WhatEVER, Tama.

I really am weird.

And Good Lord, even my digressions have digressions!

ANYWAY, what I’m trying to get at (through a most circuitous route) is that I’m sick and tired of playing this game. Sitting around building spreadsheets to track which one of us has washed more dishes or powdered more baby bottoms or taken out the trash last is making me freakin’ miserable.

The sad truth is, we’re both guilty of the sin of laziness. We’re both spending way too much time pursuing idle, brain-draining pleasures and not enough time looking after the things we claim really matter to us: Our family and our home.

And instead of getting it on, we’re using the other as a convenient excuse to not get it on. I’m sure he sits down there watching UFC and thinking to himself, I’ll bet she’s up there blogging instead of {insert task here}. Meanwhile, I’m upstairs blogging thinking, …watching UFC instead of {insert task here}, tsk tsk, am I supposed to do EVERYTHING around here?! (Do not answer that. I am warning you.)

The work really doesn’t care who does it – so long as it gets done. And if I were really honest, it isn’t that I can’t do it or am just so impossibly overwhelmed with things that I can’t chip away at it, or even that I mind doing it – it’s purely that I’m tired of being a grownup and want somebody else to do it for me, while I play some video games and take a little break.

Say, three months. Or until school is out. Yeah. Let’s go with that. A little breaky-pooh until school is out?

Which would be all well and good if it made me feel better, if it let me rebuild my mental and physical strength and then off I go.

But it doesn’t. It makes me tired, angry, depressed and otherwise fidgety. The sight of all my cluttered surfaces, bulging cupboards and nasty yard makes the skin of my brain crawl like a thousand ants were parading around inside my skull.

When my house is cluttered, so is my brain. When it’s neat and orderly, so is my thinking.

I’m going to get right on the straightening up and such.

Right after I catch up on my knitting blogs, and beat my newest video game…

Monday, September 10, 2007

Quick shout-out

I’m back from my vacation. Will write later. Until then! I found a neat new financial site: The Simple Dollar: Financial Talk for the Rest of Us. I’ve only done a cursory flip-through so far, but found it interesting!

OK, so, time to go get kids from school.


Already taken Boo Bug to and from (8:00 to 10:40), and Captain Adventure to and from (11:00 to 11:30). AND NOW! ONE LAST PERFORMANCE!

The 8:20 to 1:30 curtain is about to drop.


Do you know, I actually lied on an official form the other day? Said I worked for Maytag, and my job description was ‘laundry’?

Such a lie.

Actually, I work for Honda, as a taxi driver…

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Can I go home now?

I am having extreme motivation issues today – at least, when it comes to all the stuff I “should” be doing. You know, cleaning up from our painting, putting furniture back where it goes, folding and putting away the laundry I didn’t do yesterday because I was painting…

Today was one of those days when all the stuff I wanted to do was derailed by things I had to do, all of which took longer than anticipated and then hey – here I am, at 6:00 in the evening with no dinner on the table (or even a plan beyond, “Hmm, maybe PB&J?” in my head) and my entire !!KING SIZED!! bed covered in clean laundry that needs me to do…uh…something or other with it.

Yessir, it’s been that kind of day. I walked the kids to school this morning, and then Captain Adventure was being high maintenance and my shoulder is killing me AND THEN I had a teacher conference this afternoon for Danger Mouse in which it was revealed that she has ‘attention’ issues and can’t do first grade math or writing (she is in second grade, hel-LO), SO!, instead of doing any of the things I had planned for today, I was instead getting together Certain Tools to help her learn her math and spelling and putting together our new Reward Binder, because I am a shameless, terrible mother and I don’t care whether or not it is sound child-rearing practice, rewards work in this house.

So I’ve got the play money (I want them to be learning basic economics from this – I’ve got coins from pennies to quarters, $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills and purses for them to keep them in), which they will receive as incentives for things like…doing extra chores, getting perfect scores on homework and tests, acts of extra-good citizenship and the like. There is a base “salary” they receive for simply doing what they ought to do (enough to buy a single treat weekly from the treat basket), and then basically they can earn “bonuses” for going above and beyond the call of duty.

Aren’t I terrible? I know a lot of experts are saying you shouldn’t do that and kids should just do it because it’s what they ought to do but hey – I know that when somebody says, “And also, if you finish this project on time and under budget, we will give you an extra $500…”, it adds a certain heat under my posterior.

They’ve got everything from getting ice cream to trips to Disneyland, and the dollar values are roughly equal to what those things actually cost. $30 to go to Build-A-Bear, and $25 for Chuck E. Cheese, $20 for a toy and $15 for the zoo. They can save up $200 and go to Disneyland! Or, they can just give me their play money and I’ll deposit it into their real-life savings accounts, so they can earn real-life interest to buy a car someday.

Hopefully, it will introduce them to real-life economics, and how hard it is to earn those pleasures they currently take for granted. But mostly – I just want to have a way to get them to do things I otherwise have to yell, scream, nag and carry on about. This is why I am a terrible mother – this isn’t really about education, it’s about finding a way to make things easier for my-selfish-self.

Oh well. There goes my Mother of the Year award. Or, wait, did I lose that already for giving them PB&J for dinner? Or perhaps for stuffing an older sister’s pair of sneakers with tissue because I couldn’t find the younger sister’s actual shoes and was in a hurry? Or…well, the list does go on a bit, here. Let’s just move on, shall we? Yes, do let’s…

So I’m not getting most of the things I wanted to do today done, but I am finding all kinds of time to work on Captain Adventure’s sweater (well, by ‘all kinds of time’, I mean ‘almost half an hour, when I should have been doing something else’) and sit here reading blogs and news articles and also staring at my yarn stash thinking, Hmm, that would make a really lovely hat…I’ve got enough of THAT for a sweater and THIS would make a good shawl and I wonder if I’ve got enough of that for a long scarf?

I have a nice lady from California Closets coming tomorrow to give me heart-failure a quote on my big old walk-in closet. This is a line item on my list of Den Maintenance that makes me squeal the way my girls did when they saw the new paint on their walls: oh, I’ve done Rubbermaid and I’ve done wire shelves and I’ve done all kinds of goofy things in that closet, but it remains one of the worse-used spaces in the Den.

I’d like to tone down the Crazy for her, but I just can’t motivate myself to get ON with it. I just can’t.

Also, while I was moving furniture around I slammed into a toy chest with a truly astonishing lack of grace (and awareness of where my body was) and now have a swollen area the size of my whole hand on my thigh. It hurts like billy-oh, and it already turning a lovely shade of dark purple.

Right before the husband and I are supposed to go on a romantic four-day weekend together, courtesy of Saint Grandma and Grandpa.


OK, OK. I’m going back to the laundry. I can’t let my mother see this house, not in this state. She’s coming Thursday. I can totally get this whipped into shape by then, right?

Right after I spend some time reorganizing my stash, because the Yarn Monster got at it a couple days ago while I was painting and now it is all organized by color rather than fiber, then color and while I’m in there surely it would be perfectly natural if I spent some time cross-referencing fibers to potential patterns, right?

(There are 1443 people ahead of me in line for Ravelry . I expect to completely vanish from real life when I get that invitation for about, oh, two years or so.)

Onward!! To the goofing off! organizing!!

Pretty in pink (and purple)

The middle two girls share a room – a room which has not been painted since the day it was built, when it was squirted with a thin layer of eggshell-finish paint in “bone”.


Soooooo, this weekend, we put on our paint-speckled clothes and went at their bedroom, celebrating good honest labor by, uh, working all day. See if you can guess the theme:

The door

A small replica of the Sleeping Beauty’s castle from Disneyland behind the door…

The closet

Closet doors are painted – it’s hard to see here, but the battlements are carried through the closet as well.

Detail work!

Still a lot of this part to go and it’s all my husband’s job – putting in the finer details, gothic arches and such, in the darkest purple. I hope this comes through on your screen, because it is freakin’ AWESOME!

Yes, that’s right: It is now officially the Princess Room.

Are you ready for the corker? All those castles and battlements and the intricate detail work going in now? My husband did all of that freehand. No stencils, no decals, no magazine to copy. He just looked at the wall, took a couple measurements here and there, then drew lines with a pencil using a stick and said, “OK, honey, just strike around those lines and fill in the top and bottom, and I’ll do the detail work.”

And damned if he didn’t. You’d think after thirteen years (almost to the day) with this guy I wouldn’t be surprised by any of his talents anymore, but no – I’m still regularly surprised and impressed by him.

There are a bunch more details yet to go. Obviously there is still a lot of fine-detail painting to do, but we also have a set of shelves to install and possibly a desk. The desk I wanted to put in Captain Adventure’s room won’t fit anywhere (feh), so I may be giving it to the middle two girls instead for their room (ha! I defy you, Lack of Space!!) and moving my tiny secretary from downstairs in the hall into his room. When he’s a little older, because it’s one of those “sentimental” pieces that I’d really rather didn’t get chewed up too much. At least not, you know, right away.

The total cost was just under $500. Four gallons and one quart of paint, new window treatments (on the way, white wood slats with cordless lift – pricy, but ultra slick), four 12x36” shelves with decorator brackets (oo la la!), a set of six lined baskets, a new light switch plate and a whole lot of elbow grease – although we did kind of take it easy and didn’t exactly push ourselves. There were breaks to go out to lunch and get haircuts and even a long break in which we went and checked out model homes nearby. (I figure in another six months, they will be paying me to buy one – the prices have dropped over $100,000 (!) in one year, and there was nobody looking at them except one realtor).

And I cannot express how good it felt, seeing that awful ‘bone’ (and assorted dings and other marks) vanishing beneath a crisp coat of primer, or how much of a giggle it gives me to peek in at the castles on the walls.

Now we just have Eldest’s room, our master bedroom, and two bathrooms to go before we start on the flooring…just a l’il bit of nothing left, right?!

…oy, my shoulders are killing me right now…

Saturday, September 01, 2007

In which I prove that I am a delicate little flower of tact and diplomacy

So, we’ve got a lot of work to be done around the Den. And I have been looking at our huge, disgusting backyard with growing dismay for some time now.

See, we have all these wild plans to do things ourselves. Oh, we say, we know exactly what we want to do over here and there and here we’ll put a thing and then we’ll do another thing over here and it will be gorgeous.

And then, somehow, it doesn’t work out as planned.

My husband has been stubbornly insisting that we just need someone to come do the concrete. For a fraction of the cost, he insists, of getting a landscaper to do it. No, no landscaper. He knows, yes he knows exactly what he wants to do back there.

He has A Vision!

He has A Plan!

He knows precisely what he wants to put where, and no man knoweth better than him and BESIDES ALL THAT, he is fully capable of handling it Himself, Thank. You!

More and more, I’ve been standing there with my coffee looking at the vast wilderness back there and saying, “Noooooo, I think we need to hire Mr. Expensive Landscape Guy to come and fix this.”

But I had to find a gentle, tactful way to approach the subject. Because, you know, you don’t just walk up to a guy and say, “Look, you suck and I want to hire somebody else to do this.”

That would be rude. And unkind. Lacking in both tact and diplomacy.

So this morning I broached the subject gently.

“Honey,” I said carefully. “I know how you feel about Mr. Expensive Landscape Guy, but I’ve been asking around town [which, by the way, I have – obsessively] and he is the best spoken-of guy out there. His work is phenomenal and everybody he has done work for is extremely happy with the results.”

As expected, the husband was less than receptive to the idea of letting some other guy (especially an expensive some other guy) come in and pimp his gig.

“Eh, but we don’t need him. He’s expensive because he’s a landscape engineer. We don’t need that, we know exactly what we want, we just need a concrete guy to come do it!” he rejoined.

OK. Deep breath, Tama. Tact, and diplomacy. Carefully thought out words. What’s wanted here is to ease Himself into the idea that what we’re talking about may be a bit beyond our abilities to bring to fruition. Gently…gently…

“Sweetie, have you noticed that every time we say we know exactly what we want and what would look good out there…it ends up looking like complete ass?”

Just call me Madame Tact and Diplomacy.

When he got done laughing (a better word would probably be ‘guffawing’) and finished wiping his eyes and saying, “Oh…Christ…you’re so right”, I gently suggested that maybe, to avoid the whole thing looking like complete ass yet again, we should think about having Mr. Expensive Landscape Guy come out and actually do the backyard. And parts of the front as well.

I’d like the area that currently looks as though it was first bombed, then razed, then jumped up and down upon by a herd of diarrheic rabbits, and then neglected for six hundred years to become an ‘adult retreat’, with a little meditation area and maybe a small pond. I’d like the grass to be green. And yes, I’d like the sidewalks finished and the playground to have fiber between their bodies and the hard-packed clay, and then I’d like a gazebo around the new spa (the husband still doesn’t know about that part, because being as I am the Master of Tact, I do not drop too many expenses onto his head at once).

But he’s onboard! YAY! Yessir, Tact and Diplomacy triumphs again!! BOOYAH! I’m getting Mr. Expensive Landscape Guy to come out and help me design and implement a bitchin’ backyard!! I’m so excited! I’m downright thrilled! I can’t wait to be sippin’ my jasmine tea in my little Buddhist-inspired retreat on my new patio while the little ones frolic in their Improved Playground!!

…wait…how much is this going to cost me?!?!

(Thus begins Phase II, in which I prove that I am a ball of financial neurosis…)

Cold beer, now with more fridge space!

I cannot possibly be the only person in the world who has refrigerator space issues. I have on occasion even thought about getting a second, smaller fridge to put out in the garage to store the overflow, because I get almighty tired of trying to find room for everything.

But then I say, “No, I don’t want spend money on a new fridge, and I don’t want to spend even more money to run the dumb thing all night and day.”

This year, we discovered a method for keeping cold drinks available on demand without hogging up precious fridge space that is working surprisingly well. It’s a big old “duh, of course!”, but since it had never dawned on us to try it, I thought I’d pass it along.

We take empty milk or soda jugs, fill them up with water and freeze them. Then we put those into the cooler along with our Capri Suns, sodas, water and beer, and viola – cold drinks on demand, without having to buy a second fridge or go shopping three times a week because you don’t have room for everything you need.

I like the milk containers because they make for a BIG old block of ice that keeps things good and icy. I have two in the freezer and two in the cooler at all times – having an upright freezer in the garage makes this super easy, but if you’re short on space you can get good results with a couple soda bottles.

The neat thing about this is that when the milk containers wear out (and they all do, eventually), you can just toss them into the recycling bin – no harm, no foul. They’ve just had an extra few uses before becoming whatever they later become.

I’ve also frozen water bottles and used those to cool things off – with the happy by-product of icy cold water bottles in the cooler when I want them. It’s plenty cold enough to keep your less delicate perishables, too, the things that should stay “cool” but don’t necessarily need “cold” to keep fresh. I’ve avoided putting meat in there because I am paranoid and certain that if I put ground beef anywhere near my beer I will get botulism and die, but I’ve kept lettuce, grapes, and other assorted “ack, where do I put this?!” things out there.

It’s helped us a lot this summer, when our desires for a cold refreshing something have way outstripped the space in the fridge.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to get off my butt and get that middle twain’s room ready for painting! Hip. Hip. Hooo(yawn)ray…