Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Penalty box knitting

I have put the big Dale of Norway sweater into the penalty box. I am angry with it. FURIOUS, in fact. Grievously offended.

This morning, I picked up the sleeve I was working on and began working. And suddenly, I thought, Wait a second…was there supposed to be a…so I’ve increased, and the pattern goes…there should be one of those…aw, @*^&@^!!!!

I messed up the pattern. And I could not have done it in a more obvious and ugly fashion.

I tried to fix it by laddering down the thirty rounds (or so) to the beginning of the flub and working them back up correctly. The wool promptly began to felt, so the white and black are almost identical and the fix looks like complete ass.

And then I realized it isn’t that simple – there’s a lot of stitches on either side of the flub that are also wrong. And now they are obviously wrong.

I became so angry that I threw the sleeve back into the knitting basket and sulked for the remaining ten minutes of knitting time this morning. I was too angry even to get the current Sock In Progress instead.

I’ve looked at all my assorted options. The yarn is too grabby to ladder out and rework well; it felts together when I try and the laddered-up stitches look like black and white variegated rather than black and white stitches. The idea of tearing back makes me feel woozy. At the moment, I’m thinking I may just put that sleeve on a holder, cast on the second sleeve and work it while I ponder what to do about the first one – and possibly I’ll just go ahead and cast on a third sleeve after that, pretending the first one never happened in the first place.

I’m that annoyed.

But I’d also have to tear back to basically the very beginning of the sleeve. (Idiot.) So really, the knitting-time difference between tearing back and just starting anew is about an hour. (Argh.) And I could fix the wobble where I didn’t handle the join on the DPNs very well (rookie move).

I hate this sweater right now.

While I get on with sulking, I’m going to go ahead and shove it into the closet for a while (it isn’t a Christmas present, after all) and move on to a nice, safe lace shawl. (Stop laughing.)

Stupid sweater. Stupid sleeve increases. Stupid patterns. Stupid, stupid, STUPID.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Elephants and Little Corners

In case you were trapped months ago in a cave by a huge cave-in, surviving on bats and an hourly drop of water from a handy stalactite, waiting to be rescued by a band of intrepid spelunkers who would miraculously realize you were down there even though all radio contact would have long ago severed IF you had remembered to bring a radio in the first place, which you hadn’t hadn’t noticed, we’re having a housing downturn recently. Here in California, where we’ve seen insane appreciation based on irrational loaning and an astonishing case of optimism (“Oh, they said something about payments, blah blah blah, but I’m sure we’ll work that all out when the time comes! La La La La La…”), said downturn is particularly steep. And in my own little corner, it went past ugly a while ago and headed straight on into repulsive.

This is not to say that houses aren’t selling. They are. Just not in the way we’re accustomed to out here. Auctions and short-sales are not what we’re used to, and people are really being caught by surprise when they not only aren’t getting their pockets stuffed with equity, but are being shoved out of their houses by foreclosure and eviction.

As a finance geek, I’ve been watching this overall train wreck with great interest – personal homeowner pain aside, it’s a fascinating example of how fiscal ripples can spread in unanticipated ways. This thing is big, and getting bigger, and the effects are being felt all over the world, and there are people who honestly had no idea they were investing in sub-prime mortgages waking up to jaw-dropping loses in their “sure bet” hedge funds all around the globe.

But that’s not really what I’m pondering today.

Today, I am marveling at our awe-inspiring human capacity to be extremely knowledgeable, and yet profoundly ignorant, all at once.

It is a human trait that stuns and amazes.

I talked to a neighbor recently (because I am a talker) (no, really? never would have guessed) who is a realtor. She expressed distaste and even disdain for the ‘alarmist media’ who were blowing this whole sub-prime thing ‘way out of proportion’.

She assured me that even with rotten credit, you can still get loans. You can still buy a house. There are short sales. The banks are desperate to get rid of these houses. This whole sub-prime mortgage thing is just a big old bunch of hooey. And also it is stupid, because she knows a couple with a credit score of 540 and THEY got a loan for a house, just a couple months ago…

Her little corner of this whole thing is just fine. Granted a little slow, maybe a little musty, perhaps a little less-profitable than in years past but! Still dandy!!

This is like someone standing in their master bedroom closet and declaring that the house is perfect. Just look at the perfect blend of form and function, the colors, the way the hangers all line up so perfectly on the rod…yessir, there is nothing wrong with this house, nothing even a little bit wrong here…and by golly, it IS a stunning closet and we all stand amazed at the beauty and perfection of it.

Pull back a little bit, and the whole danged house is falling down. Roof missing, basement flooded, one wall completely fallen down.

Before I could rush in and have a good laugh at anybody being so narrowly focused on a much bigger issue, I had to acknowledge that I do the same thing with alarming frequency. I think I know all about one thing or another – and I am utterly wrong. There is bound to be something I’ve never seen or contemplated in any way that is going to suddenly and unexpectedly rear up out of the darkness, swallow my knowledge whole, spit out its bones and then fart out a whole new reality for me to piece together again.

Keeps me humble, let me tell you. Knowing that my whole reality is based on Unexpected Something farts?

That’s humble pie fixin’s, right there.

But that’s OK. It’s kind of nice, knowing that you don’t know everything about anything. It allows me to flow with my own limitations, to accept my mistakes with a certain amount of (grudging) grace, to keep my options open. I’m not locked into any particular philosophy, hopelessly trapped by my unerring knowledge even when it becomes painfully obvious that perhaps it wasn’t quite as perfect as I thought.

I’m free to say, “Eh, you know what? Didn’t see that coming, didn’t know this existed, never heard of that before, I’m going to have to put this back together again allowing for that. And who fed this Unexpected Something broccoli with hot sauce? Peeeeeeeeyew!!”

Knowing that all I’ve got is a little, little corner of a big, big house gives me the freedom to poke around in other corners now and again, to think about how the corners might come together and to get a better idea of what the whole thing might actually look like.

Which is actually remarkably like an elephant…as seen by the blind men.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wait, what month is it again?

Is it just me? Or is the planet actually speeding up and causing a year to go by in about a quarter the time it used to take?!

It struck me yesterday when I was making an(other) appointment for Captain Adventure’s epic voyage through the special needs program. She cheerfully said, “How about next Thursday at 10:00?” and I said, “Sure!”

And then, as I began punching buttons on my Treo, I had to take it back: “Oh wait, I forgot, I’m going to be out of town…that…weekend…”

No. Way.

Halloween is less than a week away, and the so-long-awaited-that-it-has-the-air-of-a-myth-about-it trip with my girlfriends is precisely one week away and $DEITY OF CHOICE HERE, the holidays are here!!

The snowballing rush of houseguests and parties and coming and going and cooking and eating and attending functions ranging from cheesy fundraising dinners to even cheesier school productions is coming. The holly-hanging, fruitcake-swapping, can-we-crash-on-your-couch-tonight season is no longer a distant thought; it’s Next.

Mayday, mayday, this is not a drill! Women and children first! And that means me, because I am both female AND the biggest baby in the Den…!

But inexorably, here comes 2008. Bearing down on me like a Peterbilt loaded with poorly-packaged tacks.

For months I’ve said things like, “I’m not going to worry about that until next year”, or “I’ll have to make sure I pay that off next year” or “Can’t talk now, next year” or “{mutter grumble deal in 2-qtr-08 go way now}”, and felt safe in the knowledge that ‘next year’ was an entire year away.

Hello, welcome to 2008 being almost right now. All those things you said you’d worry about or deal with or otherwise handle “in 2008”? TA DA! Here they are! Staring at you expectantly! Hello, we’re a bunch of things you didn’t want to deal with just yet – how are you? We’re going to be fully in your lap in a matter of weeks now!

And then we wonder why I suffer from insomnia.

2007 and 2008 are going to be very different years. (Which is almost a given because we seldom have any year stay the same as the year before – it’s a thing with us, apparently.) This year has been the Year of Spending Money Wildly. Especially since we started this remodeling binge, I’ve been spending money as if I had nothing else to do in life.

2008 is going to be the Year of Reckoning. There has been tomfoolery this year, people; granted, it wasn’t blindly rushed into, but still.

We have danced with abandon, and the piper will have to be paid.

Still, it’s all good. I really don’t mind. We’ve finally dug in and done the things we’ve talked about for years; we’re really tricking out the Den as if we intend to live here forever and a day. Whether we do or not, we’ll enjoy the rest of our time here.

And if I now have to go back to rationing my gasoline to one fill-up every two weeks and work on fine-tuning my grocery budget again, fine.

Although I do wish I had, you know, a little more time before tripping over the starting line I’ve painted right after New Year’s. Like, say, until…2010. That’s a nice round number. 2010. Yes. Perhaps we could talk about all those pesky little budgetary details in, you know, 2010…?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pictureless Knitting News

I am almost done with the main body of the sweater, a mere ten rows away – but it’s the part where you go back and forth instead of around and around. There is purling. I have become thoroughly spoiled by the ‘straight knitting in the round’ color-work, and am whining vigorously because of the dreadful horror that is stranded purling.

However shall I survive another ten rows of it? Sigh, sob, moan, groan, complain.

I’d show you but hey, guess what? This is really surprising, but, the camera has gone AWOL again! Given how often this happens in the best of times, you can imagine the combination of resignation and irritation I have right now. Hmmm, lessee, in addition to the usual twelve piles and/or baskets of crap it might be hidden in or under, there are now an extra four hundred and eleventy new ones…

ANYWAY. I’m sure I’ll find it before I finish the thing. Because if I finish this thing before Thanksgiving, it will be a miracle (or, it will be because I have really done myself damage trying to fix my back and am bed-ridden with absolutely nothing else to keep me from ending it all but my knitting) (people, can I do the drama or what?!). And I have been promised that All This will be put back together before Thanksgiving. (Stop laughing. He was serious.)

Meanwhile, of course, I’m also working on socks! I did a pair in Zitron Life Style, color 1860 (eh, why can’t they call it something more descriptive, like, “orangy-yellow-green-fallish-color”?) (oh, I think I just answered my own question). The link is the color I actually used; I did the sock in a K3/P1 rib all the way from the cuff to the heel, then continued the K3/P1 on the top of the sock while leaving the sole stockinette, then charged into straight stockinette at the toe decreases.

I am going to do many more socks this way. It works for “brainless, highly interrupted” knitting, but oh! Do they love my feet!! It’s like slipping into a pair of hugs, and they don’t sag as much as many of my other handmade socks do (mostly because I get lazy about the ribbing at the top and say that one inch is plenty dammit and can we please start makin’ some time here?).

The Zitron variegation has a really long repeat (meaning, the entire sock was more than half done before the colors began repeating), so the socks are fraternal twins rather than identical. I’m OK with that – but if you’re the type who is bothered by a pair of socks that aren’t exactly alike, give the Zitron a miss.

Currently getting all tangled up in my purse is the first of a pair of men’s socks made from the Regia Design Line: Landscape Earth. I am on the toe of the first sock and in dire peril of (gasp!) running out before I finish. Seriously, I’ve got nothing left over from this sock. It may be another pair of fraternal twins. The colors are fabulous (there’s a surprise, Kaffe Fassett put together some awesome colors), the yarn itself is ‘fine but not awesome’ (I’ve been spoiled absolutely rotten by things like Lisa Souza’s Sock!), and the socks are going really, really fast.

Well, I say that. But I think I underestimate just how much time I have to work on them each week; I’m finishing about a sock a week, and they aren’t my main project. They’re what I do while I’m waiting for Captain Adventure’s speech therapy sessions, while I’m waiting for that forty minutes between when Danger Mouse gets out and Eldest shuffles to the van (Lord, that child is the slowest moving kid in the world!) (other children come pelting out of school, but my kid? Shuffle…shuffle…dawdle…dawdle…oh, were you waiting for moi?), while I’m waiting for the physical therapist or the doctor or whatever-all-else, during the weekly gymnastics lesson…apparently, I do a lot of sitting around.

At gymnastics the other night, another mom turned to me and said, “I can’t believe you can do that – I’m just way too impatient to do that! I’d never get past the first row!!”

I hear that a lot, and it always makes me laugh. I don’t knit because I am a paragon of patience. I do it because I am twitchy and impatient. If I didn’t have my knitting, I would probably be pacing around the waiting area glancing at my watch every eight seconds and muttering, “C’mon, c’mon, how long can an hour TAKE?!” (Uh…sixty minutes, Tama, just like it always does…)

I wouldn’t be able to sit through a TV show, or handle long drives, or standing in line at a theme park (brace yourselves, ladies, there will be sock knitting in lines), or darn near anything else. It amazes me that people can just sit there, staring into space or twiddling with their cell phone or organizing their purse. How? How do they DO that? I’m way too impatient for that! I’d rather build a sock, stitch by stitch…

OK, so there’s the knitting news. Pictureless, but not wordless anyway.

And now, it is Denizen bedtime. With any luck, I won’t have to use the duct tape this time…

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Speaking of progress…

We are taking a drastic step for my back. This is truly avant-garde. Out on a limb medicine ahead. I know there are many of you out there who will be deeply, deeply alarmed by what we intend to try here; those with sensitive stomachs may wish to leave the Internet at this time.

So, thus far Himself had given me Celebrex (I am the first person he has ever known to get an upset stomach from Celebrex) which did nothing, and the Elavil worked well for my insomnia the first couple nights and then stopped working, and also the hydrocodone, while nice for a buzz and all, likewise didn’t do much for the actual discomfort. It just makes me, you know, happier to be uncomfortable. Which is better than nothing but still – not great.

Conventionally speaking, our next step would be to try another combination of medications. Up the dosage of the Elavil to try to get an end-run around the insomnia issues, and perhaps bump the pain killer up to percocet, try some other anti-inflammatory medications, actually go to the steroids or something.

Instead, we’re going to take a few weeks and try something revolutionary. You’ve probably never heard of it. It’s really off the grid. He had to explain it several times, slowly, using small words before I finally understood what he was talking about.

It’s called “diet and exercise”.

I know. Virtually unheard of, these days. But apparently there are medical mavericks out there using these two things to treat everything from raging obesity to mild depression!

Who. Knew?!

So I’m trading my physical therapist for a personal trainer, who is to kick my lazy butt into gear encourage me to get working on my overall body-tone. Which, by the way, is non-existent right now. I have all the muscle tone of a dead jellyfish. Go ahead. Feel that bicep. {squip!} Yeah, that’s right – solid flab, that’s what that is right there.

I’m supposed to get a daily exercise program. Daily. No, I don’t know how and when either, but the man did not say it was going to be easy. Neither are taking medications with labels on them warning you to not drive or operate heavy machinery while taking them – how am I supposed to get through a day on those things? “Oh, ya, officer, it totally sez I shouldn’t, like, drive and some junk? But I’ve got to go pick up MY KIDS right now, so, well, ya, ya know?”

I’m also to start working on a diet makeover, cutting out fast and processed foods and odd eating schedules, substituting actual breakfast-snack-lunch-snack-dinner, with planned portions instead of the ‘eh, I’m kinda hungry, what have I got in the fridge today’ method I currently use for everything but dinner.

Oh. And water. I’m supposed to drink actual water. I was shocked to discover that the ice cubes in my vodka and cranberry do not count toward my daily water consumption. Humph! I think he’s just making that up, but I’m too polite to actually call him on it.

We’re giving this three weeks to show some good results; I actually expect it will. There’s nothing really wrong with me; it isn’t like I had some kind of sudden trauma (like, slamming into a tree while high on codeine) or massive spine defect or have organs failing or anything. It’s just…bad habits finally catching up to me, taking advantage of small cracks to make bigger problems.

With any luck, a good dose of plain old common sense will have me back to Denizen Herding before they know what hit them.

And fitting back into my jeans without all this overhang wouldn’t suck, either.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bang! Whack! ZZZZZZRWOR!!! {thump!}

The above sounds are brought to you by the musical Progress, or Something Like It, brought to you LIVE and DAILY from the Den of Chaos.

Last week, the flooring guys arrived (two days before expected) (which would have been nicer if the floors to be taken out weren’t under two feet of detritus when they called to say they were coming the next morning at Ungodly A.M.) to lay down the laminate in the master bedroom and Captain Adventure’s room. Then they went away. And came back to drop off several lengths of baseboard with the admonition to ‘get those painted right away’.

Wha? Wait, we…WE have to paint these? This is the latest in a long list of surprises. Some of them my husband claims he knew about. Like the baseboard, he claims that everybody has to paint baseboard themselves. Hmm…see, I don’t remember my dad ever having to paint baseboard in our house, and we did have the carpets replaced at least once during my tenure with them.

Or that the folks who refinished the bathroom counters (and bathtub, and shower stall) were OK with stripping OUT the shower stall hardware, but not with putting it back IN. See, I had thought they specifically said they would put the bathroom back in usable condition before they left – but my husband tells me that I am high (well, I do have some new medications, but really…) and that was never the deal and he is going to do that part.


The question of whether ‘later’ means ‘later this week’, ‘later this year’, or ‘at some point before we retire’ is yet to be answered.

So the man dutifully painted the baseboards last night, chuckling all the while at his wife’s naivety. Imagine if you will sixteen 16’ x 3” lengths of wood stretched down your hallway covered in wet paint, overnight. Keeping in mind that there are four young children in this house, one of them an extremely curious three year old.

Yeah. It was splendid.

Today, the flooring guys re-arrived and began tearing away at the girls’ bedrooms. They are almost done for the day (and, by the way, the baseboards are still stretched out at full length on the floor, not-installed and decidedly IN MY WAY), but will be back OH YES THEY WILL to install the new carpet on the stairs and down the hallway. And the baseboard. They pinkie promise. Sometime next week. Ish. Or so. Depends.

It is an interesting experience, all this remodeling. On the one hand, I’ve heard horror stories about remodeling projects of far less scope taking triple the time this one is (allegedly) going to take. But on the other…California Closets (who WERE going to install all our goodies TODAY) now has to wait until the tile is put into the bathroom, which isn’t going to happen for another two weeks. Our dresser is already gone, so our clothing goes…uh…hmm. Well, we don’t even have hanging rods in the closet anymore, so it goes…on the floor. In piles.

The Daily Quest for Something To Wear would rival Clan of the Cave Bear in length and breadth.

The books that are supposed to go on the new bookshelves are fine. They’ve been in boxes for years, being in boxes for another few weeks won’t hurt them or us unduly. But the clothing storage is a real (annoying) issue, as is the fact that my home office is likewise not here at home. I’ve been snatching a few minutes throughout the day, here and there, perched like some kind of nervous crow on one or another uncomfortable surface.

I even blew a payment this month. I got in a hurry (and also had a kindergartener nattering at me, begging to go to Barbie.com or Noggin.com or oo-oo-oo Nick.com) and thought I had set it up but hadn’t. ARGH. Also, whenever I’m asked for something (what’s the number for this contractor? do we have any envelopes? do you have a stamp for this?) my answer is always, “I dunno – it’s in a box in the garage, probably.”

It is no way for a civilized being to live, is what I’m saying.

My master bathroom is still unusable. The fixtures are still in their boxes. The shower stall is in pieces in the garage. There is no toilet, because apparently the toilet cannot be installed until the tile goes in. In “a couple weeks”. Hoookay, but why can’t we put the rest of the bathroom together, the shower and sinks and bathtub and drawers into which we put the stuff that makes my daily life, if not easy, at least more presentable – like hair brushes and toothpaste? Because we need a plumber to come out and grfakrle the shoulder whitchits on the hoozerwhats with a #2 rfalksjtgrah, that’s why.

I have no idea. One Thing is leaking, therefore all Things must be replaced. But I honestly cannot grok why, so I don’t want to call the plumber, I want THE MAN WHO IS INSISTING ON IT to do it. I hate calling contractors and saying, “I have no idea why I’m calling you, except that our hoozerwhats need some #2 thing or something.”

It’s like calling and saying, “Yes, please come to my home, tinker with stuff for a while, charge me $2,500 and then go away so that my husband can charge in and say, ‘No, no, not the goobernuffs! The hoozerwhats! Why did he put in new goobernuffs, when the hoozerwhats are what need replacing?!’”

I am very tired of showering in the downstairs bathroom. It is very small, rather dark (no windows), and also there is no lock on the door. We have had toddlers in this house for the last seven years – we took the locks off after about the twelfth time one kid or another locked herself in there and then got all hysterical because they could figure out how to unlock the damned door.

Nothing says “Fun!” like lathering up and then finding your three year old grinning at you around the shower curtains while yelling, “BOOBS!”, which is a word the boy has not only figured out but likes to show off, demonstrating that he understands the meaning as well by yanking the neck of my shirt down and pointing. “BOOBS!!!”, he declares proudly, exposing my bra to the world.

Charming child, really he is.

ANYWAY. It is all moving along, and according to theory we should be all done by Thanksgiving.

That's the theory, anyway. And I sure hope it proves a true one, because otherwise there really WILL be mayhem in this house.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Ooooooooh, SNAP!!!

In case you were wondering where I’ve been – physical therapy, twice a week. My back muscles have declared !Mutiny! and are now refusing to support my swayback [lumbar lordosis] which is kind of good news [the osteoarthritis is still only in one knee, one big toe, and one shoulder] and kind of bad news [back pain is very difficult to deal with, especially this kind where there is a physical defect involved] and seems my pelvis is off-kilter probably due to four pregnancies AND having had a toddler on one hip for about seven years straight, AND I AM VERY DELICATE RIGHT NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE.

Like, say, horoscopes giving you a kick in your already-sore backside!!!

My Daily OM horoscope today said, You may notice that your abundance makes you feel like you have free license to spend on things you don’t need. This may be the result of a feeling of lack in some aspect of your life.

Ooooooh, SNAP!!

It then goes on to remonstrate me, Perhaps today you might think more deeply about the issue of desire versus need.

Yes, ma’am. Thank you, ma’am.

I have a kind of abundance right now in the form of funds meant for the remodeling project. It isn’t the same as ‘having money’, though, since I’ve got to turn right around and hand it over to a variety of suppliers and contractors. Spending it on stuff other than remodeling stuff is an invitation to disaster later.

If I look at how things really are, the real-true bottom line, we’re not doing that hot. It’s going to be an ‘eh’ year, overall. Not the kind of year where you say, “Shoot yes, I can totally afford to buy myself six pairs of tennis shoes!”

And I have felt rather…delicate, lately (no, really? we couldn’t tell…). I feel like a very small boat in a very large ocean, and the waves keep coming from unexpected directions. Or expected ones, but bigger than expected. Or the opposite, which is oddly just as hard. I’m all braced for disastrous news, and it turns out to be nothing – and while I’m glad it wasn’t disaster, at the same time it’s somehow exhausting.

Also, I’m getting a bit seasick, so even little waves make me run for the rail. We need to have dinner? Again? Didn’t we just have dinner last night?! You mean I’ve got to do this every single night?! {Puuuuuuke!} “How about we have a nice pizza delivered?” she asked, weakly.

I have indulged in purchasing extravagant birthday presents for others, over-giving to fundraisers, buying myself new clothes that I pretend make me look less lumpy, getting a suit for my husband (who does need one, but still), etc. etc. etc.

It isn’t that I think it’s wrong to comfort oneself with retail therapy on occasion – it’s more that I have been doing it more and more, and also in an escalating dollar value, and it isn’t actually comforting me. It gives me a temporary attitude boost, but it doesn’t last – and is undone by the bills coming in.

I know better. I really do. I know it isn’t going to cure what ails me. I can’t claim ignorance of the consequences. I know that what I need to do is have some good, long chats with myself about things, about what I need, and what I want, and how badly I want it, and why.

Come right down to it, the list of things I need is very short; and the list of things I really want is likewise not that long. The list of things I kinda want, on the other hand, is huge. Buying crap because I’m experiencing a temporary emotional upheaval can’t end well – nothing says ‘ongoing emotional trauma’ like racking up bills you can’t pay off at the end of the month.

Taking good care of business, on the other hand, lets me sleep better at night, and grants me a better ability to take the waves as they come.

Now if I could just figure out whether every other Aquarius out there is doing the same thing right now, or if the horoscope people have hidden cameras in my purse…

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Knitting on

OK. We have paint on the walls. The yellowed synthetic marble has been recoated in white. We have paid an exorbitant sum for the flooring, which should be installed in stages over the next three weeks. And California Closets will be here in two weeks to install our solutions and make my life wonderful.

AND! Our neighbors (They of the Large, Extended Family) have thus far gratefully taken off our hands one armoire, one dresser, two side tables, two sets of “girl” furniture (bed and box springs, plus a toy box and a small armoire) and four huge (and somewhat well-loved) oak shelves. Plus two old-but-not-too-old carseats and possibly they have someone who needs a crib as well. We’re very happy to be able to pass this stuff along; while it isn’t exactly top-shelf, it is perfectly decent furniture with a lot of service left in it.

It feels so good to get all this stuff out of the Den. Already we can walk through the hall without fearing for life and limb; when we’re all done with all this, it will be awesome.

Meanwhile, back in real life – I am knitting on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.

Check it out. I’m finally making the Lillehammer 1994 from the Dalegarn 147 book:

Dale of Norway for Orangutan

It is coming out gorgeous. I’m making this for my husband, so it is the XXL size. It is knitting up remarkably fast, which is good because I have a ton of Christmas knitting to do.

In terms of how difficult a knit this is, well, it is pretty easy for the first half. The part I’m on now is a bit more challenging – there are four unique panels, repeated twice (front and back). The graph is (as usual) a little small, and my glasses are AWOL (probably in a box somewhere).

I’m doing it in KnitPicks Merino Style. It’s soft, cheap and easy to knit with – and the pattern is not desperately hard yet makes me feel profoundly clever for being able to do it. What more could I ask from a project?!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I’m remodeling right now, thanks, and how are you?

I’m just going to have this tattooed on my forehead. And I may put something a little …uh…less enthusiastic on my posterior to show people who decide to ask me how the remodeling is going.

Actually, it is going well as these things go. We are mostly on schedule and almost within budget and really – who could ask for more?

It took two days to strip our room of possessions, furniture and the like. We had a huge mirror in the bathroom, a room-length monster.

Note the word ‘had’. Yes, that’s right, it broke when we were trying to take it down. I almost said something unpleasant to my husband (something in the vein of, “What did I tell you? The guy said we needed a FEW strong guys here when we tried this!”), but then it occurred to me that really this was merely a ‘design opportunity’ and that a pair of smaller mirrors would be damned adorable in there.

It took the better part of another day to mask off everything in the room and so my husband could fire up his shiny new paint sprayer.

Which promptly broke, necessitating a trip to Home Depot to rent one for the afternoon.

It also broke.

And in mid-rant about how it wasn’t working, my husband realized that he was being stupid, that the engine wasn’t cutting out it was just pressurized (or something like that) and went back to work. It worked fine.

He hand-painted the cupboards, taking them from tired looking oak to a beautiful dark brown. The yellowing cultured marble is now a lovely, smooth white. The difference is amazing!

The flooring guy is coming out to measure tomorrow, and with luck and a tailwind we’ll be putting in new flooring throughout the entire upstairs of the house over the next couple weeks, and at long last.

Meanwhile, we are sleeping in the living room amid boxes piled four or five high containing all our stuff.

But I’m not stressed out.

It will look fabulous when it’s all done. It really will. We’re going to love it.


And now, it’s time for me to go to bed.

In the living room.

Which is, on the bright side, much closer to the coffee maker than our bedroom…

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Because nothing says Insane like remodeling

So. You know, I just didn't have enough going on in life. Lessee. We have...Captain Adventure's adventures. Another child is failing because she can't seem to focus herself on the task at hand long enough to turn in the homework she completed. And another child is in trouble because she is so caught up in "now" that she will choose to continue playing rather than go back to class because the pleasure of playing right now cannot compete with the concept that in a few minutes, I will be in so much trouble that the sun will shake in fear and hide his face rather than see my horrific punishment.

We have my husband starting work with a new client. And a new singing group. Plus also he is still doing the DM thing for the monthly D&D games, which take about a week's worth of all spare time before the game, and another couple days afterward to do whatever it is they do afterward to award points and go up levels and stuff. AND he is also organizing concerts for a visiting singing friend. Plus, he is trying to convince me that he Needs to be gone most weekends between November 17 and December 30 singing with his new group.

He's not doing a very good job of that, because I am a selfish witch who doesn't not wish to face all the holiday madness without so much as a backup for kid-wrangling. The only thing less fun than doing all the holiday decorating and cooking alone is doing it alone while the four children hang off you crying and demanding snacks every eight seconds. And tattling on each other, after the damage has already been done. Why is that? Why do they never seem to come in and say, "So-and-so is about to jump off the hutch onto your harp!"? Why do they come in afterward and say, "Mommy? Know what? We were in there? Doing this thing? Which I, which *I* said, I said, don't do that, but they weren't listening to me? So they were doing this thing? Which I wasn't doing, but they were doing? And..."

And, I'm having a truly epic time with the arthritis. It's marvelous, no really. Nothing says, "I'm ready for another day of Fun and Excitement!" like waking up already wanting to go back to bed.

SO! Because all this is simply not enough madness...we began the remodeling in our master bed/bath.

The timeline is fairly tight. This weekend, we (we means, "My Husband" - I mostly stand around making smartassed remarks and refilling the coffee cup) are painting both areas. Next week, the yellowing cultured marble is being refinished. Then, new flooring: at the moment we're planning on tile in the bathrooms, carpet on the stairs and down the hall, and Pergo in each of the bedrooms. Subject to change when I hear the final price, but that's the plan at the moment. (Not a moment too soon, either - that formerly-white carpet really is giving up the ghost all over the place upstairs.)

The week after that, California Closets is arriving to install two things: a closet storage solution, and a library.

Yes. In the master bedroom. What? Doesn't everybody want to live in a library?

We're putting in shelves and cupboards along the biggest wall in the bedroom - think "governor's mansion library". The cupboards will have some linens and a lot of yarn in them, and then the bookshelves will go all the way up the wall to just under the 12' ceiling.

There is also a home office solution that will finally allow me to have my desk in there AND open the door to my bedroom all the way, rather than having to scoot in sideways because my desk is blocking the door. Sweeeeeeeet.

Much as I'm looking forward to the finished product, the process is enough to make me insane. We are sleeping in the living room and dog-dang, but we own a lot of stuff. It's all over the house right now, and I am developing a nervous tic in my right eye.

Also, I am writing to you perched in a very weird location, using a computer that is not actually mine but it has Internet access and I am not proud right now.

It's going to be an interesting few weeks around here. I just hope I can come through it all in one piece...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The things I sometimes wonder

Sometimes I wonder what would actually happen if I were to throw in the towel. You know, just say, “Hey, know what? This whole wife-n-mom thing? It’s been real. But I quit now. So, have a good life and all, eh? Toodle-pip!” and then I jumped into the nearest bus and went wherever it was going and started a new life. As Bambi the Super Waitress.

We had Captain Adventure’s home visit today. The ladies were sweet and they played with Captain Adventure and observed his reactions to them (he was pissy, I think he’s got a cold or something) (he napped today, people – definitely some kind of sick going on there). And then they started saying, “So, we’ll need to do the actual testing later, and we’ll arrange to do this, and that, and this, and that, and this other thing, and then you know that we actually have a LARGE NETWORK OF PROGRAMS, so in addition to the preschool there are blah blah blah…”

It was about this point that I suffered a bout of vertigo and had to sit down.

Don’t get me wrong: I am on my knees grateful not only that these programs exist, but that these people are so anxious to make sure that Captain Adventure is put into the correct one(s) ASAP.

I am thankful to them for their eagerness, their kindness, their exuberance.

Also, I think I need to go throw up.

My Daily OM horoscope today said, Because you are likely tired after shouldering a great many duties, you may find it difficult to accomplish much at home or at work. To refresh yourself so that you can continue achieving your goals, you will no doubt need to take a critical look at the schedule you have adopted. Even if you find scant opportunities to pare down your agenda today, you may still be able to prevent similar fatigue in the future by making a commitment to yourself to take on only what you can and no more.

To which I reply, “@*^&@ you. @*^&@ you all.” Because I am mature and enlightened and some junk like that.

See, the thing is, I’m looking over my agenda (which is a damned fancy word for what I do all day) and I’m not seeing a whole lot of trim-able items in there.

“Right, let’s see, I’ve got to cut something out…OK, Madame Kindergartener, from here on out you take yourself to and from school and take ownership of your own snack and homework.”

See? It doesn’t really fly.

And when these lovely ladies started telling me about the preschool program (3 hours a day, five days a week) and then of course there will likely be more half hour one-on-one sessions (three to five times a week instead of once) AND they have ‘other programs’ he may be qualified for, well.

You can see why I might become a tad agitated, yes? Especially when all FIVE of my children (including the 6'3" one) are suddenly demanding all kinds of extracurricular activities that are going to be slicing huge chunks of time from every conceivable moment I might otherwise have to sit down and fan myself while sucking down gallons of vodka and cranberry juice - all of which activities I am required to actively manage and/or enable.


OK, all ranting aside, I am actually considering my options. Perhaps an after school program for the older two (that would run me $260 a month), and/or an after-kindergarten program for Boo Bug (ouch – about $500 a month) (ouch) (seriously, my wallet is killing me, people). Or a maid service to lift the burdens of housework from my shoulders ($400 – 500 a month) (OW!!), although what I really need is an old-fashioned maid of all work ($Priceless). Somebody who comes in every single day and cleans up everything. A maid service will clean, but you have to do the picking up part. You’ve got to get the dishes off the counter, or they can’t clean it. And if there are more than a couple toys on the floor, well, they’ll leave you a note saying, “Couldn’t clean floors – please tidy first next time!”

True story, I had a neighbor who was fired by her maid service. She never picked up so much as a sock off the floor, and had two extraordinarily messy children. For weeks we heard the sad tale of how the maids just didn’t do the job right, and then suddenly she informed us that they had called and said they were very sorry, but they just couldn’t come clean for her anymore.

Great. Something else to add to my ever-growing list of Things I Fear: Being Fired by the Maid Service.


Something is going to have to go.

Maybe it should be me. Maybe if I just left, everything would be simpler. They’d all just figure out their own little lives, and be happier and more self-sufficient for it! Yes! I think I’ve hit on something here!! For the good of my family, I need to run away from home!!

…how much is a bus ticket to Anywhere these days…?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Thank you, God!

I pulled out the wad of papers from Eldest's backpack and began going through them. The permission slip caught my attention. On the back was printed an !enthusiastic! flyer about the CHEER CAMP!! YAY TEAM! RAH!

Blah blah cheers yadda yadda spirit ha ha jumps something about stunts, forty dollars for a one-day ‘introduction to spirit squadery’ (all day, on a Saturday), and GO TEAM!!!

“Hey Eldest,” I called out. “You interested in this cheerleading thing?”

“Oh, that? Not really. Actually? I’m an author.”

Oh, I see. Alrighty then.

{shreds flyer}

Thank you GOD.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Counting Blessings

I need to count blessings today. My psychic powers indicate that the weather is changing (no, no, that’s OK – no charge, I share my talents freely with y’all). Mostly, they are indicating this by causing my hips to ache like thunder and my shoulder to insist that there is an arrow sticking in it. It is interfering with my Real Life, to include activities that are extremely helpful for said conditions, like walking my kids to and from school. Or going up and down the stairs in the Den.

Thus it is obviously time (and past time) to give up my normal methods of arthritis pain control (positive thinking, tea, yoga, more positive thinking, herbal supplements, Motrin, Tylenol, chiropractics, whining and sulking) for calling my doctor and saying, “OK, I give up – what did you have in mind for a next step?”

The next step will undoubtedly involve needles (why must they always do blood work, I’m just asking!) and a series of very expensive prescriptions which will fail for reasons varying from ‘don’t work’ to ‘caused my stomach to erupt out of my body and run shrieking wildly down the street, much to the alarm of the neighbors’ for a while until we find the right thing.

So! Here are the happy thoughts I can come up with as I sit here waiting for my Tylenol PM to kick in…

I do not have to keep the Noro hat I am knitting. Shut up, Rabbitch , I can totally hear you cackling from way over here in California. I made a hat from this same Noro yarn once before (well, not this PRECISE ball of yarn, but Kureyon all the same), and I thought at the time, This yarn is kind of…well, but the color is so fabulous…but the YARN is so…

The word I didn’t want to say was “yucky”. Scratchy, stiff and otherwise I Don’t Like It. The color, I love. The yarn, not so much. But I don’t have to keep the hat when it is done and this is a happy thought. Although right now I am encouraging myself with the thought of hand washing it with conditioner to “soften it up”. (Seriously. Shut. Up. I can so totally hear you…)

I am almost done with the sleeves of the Yawn-Worthy Raglan, and this is a happy thing since the holidays are approaching (relentlessly) and I really need to get on with the holiday knitting. Also because this is a boatload of plain stockinette. There is no pattern, no color stranding, no cables, nothing to keep me from falling out of my rocking chair from sheer boredom-induced narcolepsy.

However, it is going fast, and that is another happy thought. It will also be one of those ‘plain but handsome’ sweaters and has a beautiful drape and a lovely feel to the yarn – as soft as the Noro is nasty, and very warm. As long as I didn’t bollix up the fit too badly, I should wear it this winter with great delight. It’ll look just like the sweaters you can get at Target for $9.88…

I found a pattern for lacy socks in a men’s size. I plan to make them in Pink for a Certain Someone. The thought of this fills me with a positively evil glee. BWA-HAHAHAHA. (Unfortunately, it is not my husband, so I won’t be able to torture this particular male with the demand that if he loves me even a tiny bit, he will wear these socks at least weekly – to the office.)

My favorite witch is out of her ‘Halloween Decorations’ box. She is standing on top of the cookie jar freaking out the children. She actually has a very gentle expression, but still – there is a witch on the cookie jar watching them, and this amuses me greatly. She may have to stay there indefinitely. My alter-ego, if you will. “Would you like a cookie, my precious? Go ahead, I won’t bite, {cackle, cackle, cackle}…”

Planet Organics has acorn squash in the boxes this week. Granted, I’m on the every-other-week box and this is not my week, but I am just delighted that it is coming into Squash Season. I love squash. I love it in soups, I love it in pies, I love it roasted with butter and mashed like potatoes. But I never buy it in the supermarket. I don’t know why not. The Planet Organics box has been a tremendous success for us; the only things I finally put on the ‘no, please’ list were the kale / collard green families (we just weren’t eating them, no matter how I tried to make them – even with bacon, we’d just pick out all the bacon and leave the greens) and tomatoes, because they kept getting smooshed in the box AND we have a local farmer who had some equally gorgeous things at the market.

There are many more blessings to recount, now that I’ve stopped to think about it – but I think it’s time to take advantage of my Window of Tylenol PM Sleepy to head for bed.

I love counting my blessings. Seems like every time I do so, I find that I’ve got “too many to list here”…hope it’s the same for y’all, from great ones to small…goodnight, and may your God be with you…