Tuesday, May 31, 2011

...and THIS is why I can't quite manage pessimism...

This is classic "my life," right here. Every time I start working myself into a proper funk over something, life likes to do this...it's cold outside and I'm so damned tired, I want coffee (hey, didn't I *just* redeem $25 onto that Starbucks card?) and sure, but I'm still kinda (ooooooh, hey, Godiva, May 31, WAIT! did I get my free monthly chocolate for May yet NO I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT I HAVE!) (sharp LEFT)

Oh well. Career as an emo, *blighted* beyond all hope...guess I'll just have to soldier on, enjoy my chocolate and my coffee and my bonus knitting time as a hopeless optimist...

Exactly how it looks

Gray, blurry and slightly grim...this is the hardest part of the day, where weariness lays down with reality and breeds the feeling that little remains possible; children hustling the Embarcadero station selling candy for their school or maybe today it's their church or for a sick teacher, the story changes but the little faces are the same...same brass-voiced woman braying 'where you at?!' into your ear for 40 straight minutes, a dude leering at you from one side of the train, the woman across constantly nudging her bags back onto your feet until, unable to restrain yourself any more...you use them as a damned foot rest, and if she didn't MEAN for her eyeglasses to be keeping your heels at a comfortable angle, she could perhaps try keeping them instead beneath her own, more protective feet...

Thanks to the usual One Last Thing, the shuttle just left three minutes ago...57 minutes to the next one, 90 to the next 48 minute ride to the twenty minute trek from the station to home.

It is cold, and gray, and grim, and blurry, at this part of the day. Another day seems impossible.

Fortunately, Tomorrow doesn't care about any of that. It will arrive right on time, and be exactly the same kind of different as today.

And there is hot coffee in the mall.

C'mon. It's on me.

...let there be lunch (and YET ANOTHER meeting!)

Yeah...about what I expected. I have been hunched over at my desk since 6:45. Thus far, I have...
1. Been alerted to a Weirdness in our test environment
2. Traced it to being Not Us
3. Asked Them if by any chance their whatnot undid our thingee.
4. Gotten a '!!!!!!!!!' From Them...and the assurance that it will be fixed immediately-as-in-today.
5. Discovered one of my base snaps apparently had a failure because holy crap...5 million rows v.3000? Yeah, SOMETHING ain't right there...
6. Documented 4 & 5, above.
7. Fixed 5.
8. Attended 2.5 hours of meetings.
9. Realized I had to pee...really, really badly (apologies for the TMI there, but, heh-heh...yeah. welcome to a day in mah life. I also sometimes get alllllll the way to, like, 4 pm before realizing I never ate lunch. Or breakfast. GEE, why AM I so shaky?!)
10. Oh yeah...lunch...!

Readers, meet lunch! Lunch, Readers! Lunch is some beans I made yesterday - these are red calypso beans, slow-baked in some white vinegar, brown sugar, pepper, salt AND...hickory syrup.

You read right: hickory SYRUP. Like maple syrup, but made from hickory bark and sugar. It's fascinating. So like maple syrup, yet so DIFFERENT...makes some darn tasty beans, too!

Solitude of sorts

Most of my department doesn't arrive until around 9:00; I'm usually the first in, followed quickly by two other early birds. It is quiet and productive time for us, in this brief window when the loudest sound is the HVAC system.

But soon, the joint will be humming with people in meetings - all different ones, for added fun. The open floor plan here is definitely not for everyone!

Fun and excitement...

...ooooooh yeah, baby! Nothing says 'living the good life' like the early morning middle-of-freeway BART station! This is the newest station in the system, which is why generally at least ONE of the escalators will be in service at least two or three days a week. But, it will always be going the direction opposite of the commute flow - we're all going in-bound, so the only functioning escalator is moving out-bound.

Ah, that quirky, filthy, smells-like-a-pee-box BART...!

Shuttle dash!

This is our 'express' shuttle to the West Dublin BART station. Our driver Tim whisks us up the freeway to our BART train all express-like. Usually. Except that this morning, it looks like there may be something wrong with our bus, as he's turned it off, fiddled with things, started her back up, revved and fussed, turned her off again, on again, off again about four times now...rut-roh....

(In case you were wondering, yeah, I'm photo-blogging my day today...project for someone and no, I can't believe I was talked into it either, and yeah, HIGHLY unlikely I will remember to keep doing it once I settle in at my desk...)

Yay! Tim's kung fu is best, and we are ROLLIN'!

My two favorite things about ACE

One, they have nice, clean tables, perfect for holding your knitting pattern, laptop or what have you...and also they have POWER! (hang on, now I hafta get a picture of that...hi, never mind me, y'all, just your average every day fruitcake taking pictures of the underside of tables...)

Second thing is actually the car behind me - which is a well-policed 'sleeper' car. There are TWO such cars (of six total), where yakking, video games, excessively-loud earbuds, and phones that screech the theme song of Hawaii Five-0 are STRICTLY verbotten. The lights are dimmed, and the ridership culture strong enough that even the crassest, most belligerent of f-bomb dropping teens will find themselves knocking it off, or leaving the car.

Perhaps BODILY. Who did it? Some guy in a hood, and nobody saw it and the staff will strive diligently to find them, but GOSH, they don't appear to have anybody on board that meets Carl's, er, the ejecter's description...(ACE crew: Adore! them...short-nice, firm when they have to be, ultra-cool whenever possible.)

I actually ride them more in the evening, when my psyche is reeling from a day of noise-bombardment only destined to get worse (much, MUCH worse!) when I descend into the swirl of activity that is my beloved Den of Chaos.

Haha, victory is mine again!

Seven minutes to ACE train. I maaaaade it, I maaaaaade it, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-...wait...why am I all happy again...?!

[Ed: Snort! Typical! I don't NEED it today, soooooo, she's a-runnin' six minutes late today...]

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mine, mine alllllll mine...!

This is one of my dirty little secrets: Frequently upon completing the (bi)weekly grocery shopping, I snag whatever sweet-thing is on the loss-leader rack by the registers...you know, the same stuff I am always going, "Pfffft, NO! Dude, that ain't even FOOD right there!" whenever the Denizens beg and plead for it.

And then I eat it in the van on the way home.

Like a demented squirrel with a Top Secret nut he doesn't want the Squirrel Police to know about.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Math and guns

The husband, laughing so hard he could barely talk, just asked me to come watch our Eldest’s little speech on the ‘farewell to Mr. H’s class’ DVD – the end of year compilation of all the adorable children from sixth grade. (This was from last year, mind you.)

So I stood there and watched my darling child tell the camera, in her earnest and slightly nerdy way, the following:

“Yeah, OK, so…math? It’s kind of boring and stuff? But? You can totally use it to make, like, bows. And guns. And stuff like that. Yeah. That’s what my mom says, anyway.” {smile!}


And now I know why alllllll the teachers at her school tend to kind of…look.at.me., all funny like that…

(Funny thing being, our actual conversation on the topic was more like, “Well, shoot, honey, think about a bow and arrow…now, you can use math to figure out how many pounds of pressure per square inch your arrow exerts on the target and how many feet it travels per second, and then you can experiment with different bows and start making note of what changes cause which effects, if a shorter bow with a bigger arch makes it go faster or hit harder, and then you can incorporate those findings into the next bow you build, see? And you can get better at hitting the target in the first place if you can get a basic understanding of geometry, how shapes work, and the physics of movement blah blah blah, mom keeps going LONG after the pre-teen’s attention span has officially ended, blah blah blah…)

(Except that she obviously retained the key words ‘bow’ and ‘gun’ and ‘math’ and then threw them all together in her ‘bye, Mr. Teacher, it’s been so awesome being your class and by the way I’m totally going to build myself a gun using the math you taught me, buh-bye!! {smile!}” speech.)

(Once again…{head-desk!}…)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Little details

This has been one of those weeks, commute-wise.

Monday, I had a little trouble with the part of the commute where I get my arse out of bed. So I was running just a hair late and then I was maybe a hair and a freckle late and then I totally missed my train. So I drove to BART because I didn’t want to be the extra hour late and the car tire didn’t look too deflated. (Yeah. I’ve…really got to get around to getting that tire actually fixed, as opposed to seemingly fixed, only it kind of goes flat again over time.)

Tuesday, I had a little trouble with the part of the commute where I say to myself, Dude, seriously, are you planning to have crackers for lunch AGAIN?! You do too have time, throw together a lunch. NOW, MISSY!

And then I missed my train by about two minutes and once again drove to Train #2 because once again, the stupid tire isn’t looking significantly flat and I’d rather not be late getting in. Because if I’m late getting in I’m going to be late getting out, and that means more crowded trains and the danger of not getting home before I hit the Wall of Tired – which sucks because when I hit that wall before any dinner machinations are underway, the cranky-whiny-irrationally-angry thing is not pretty.

I worked from home Wednesday because I had sort of planned to because in related news, I had planned to tackle this dude I want to help, and I had found this itty-bitty corner of his daily calendar that wasn’t solid meetings and was all, “Ha ha! I have you now, because while it may be six a.m. in California, it is nine a.m. back there in Charlotte so even if you are working banker’s hours you should totally be in by then!”

…except that he walked straight into a meeting that wasn’t showing on his calendar and curses!, I worked from home for “nothing” except that it was kinda nice that instead of having to get up at 3:30 to make a 4:49 train so that I could be in the office by 6:30, I could totally just roll out of bed at 5:30 and be working by 6:00.

Working from home rocks that way. Although it rocks even more when you roll out of bed at 8:00 and get cracking by 9:30 after three cups of coffee, a thorough reading of the newspaper and maybe even a shower.

Just sayin’.

Which brings me to this morning, when I had a little trouble with the part of my commute where I recognize the sound of my alarm for what it is even sort-of LIKE my job and on the whole think that probably my manager could TOTALLY do all this on her own without me and how about I just go back to sleep now and NOT go to work at all, that’d be fine today, wouldn’t it? perhaps stayed up just a HAIR too late watching anime on Netflix and perhaps should have NOT done that only c’mon! There were only two (2) crummy episodes left in the whole series and it’s not like I was dropping acid and robbing liquor stores, people! found it a just a little difficult to get out of bed and maybe hit the snooze button one time too many, and then said, “Eh, fine, I’m not even going to try for it, I’ll just catch the 6:09 or 6:06 or, whatever!” and then I went back to dozing around (because I almost never actually get back to sleep on these occasions), and then (eventually) I got up and got dressed (even remembered earrings, for carp’s sake!), and I made my coffee (both the Contigo and the backup Thermos) and then I grabbed stuff for lunch because I am so damned organized that way (snort!), and then I got in the car and I went, “Ooooo, man, yeah, I’m shaving it a leeeeeetle close, here, but no worries – I’ve got a full ten minutes, and it usually only takes eight to drive over there!” and can we just pause here for a moment to contemplate the difference two measly minutes can make, because GUESS WHAT?!?!?!

(Please to note: Queen of Run On Sentences That Make No Sense – I still own that crown. Peace to my peoples!)

Aaaaaanyway, guess what?!?!

I pulled into the parking lot at precisely 6:03:45.

Just as the crossing guards were coming down across the road.

And I said…well, I said something like “Oh my gracious and dearie me, it appears that I may be about to miss that marvelous train, bless it and all its crew members!”

Yeah. Something like that. Ahem.

And then as I went through the motions, pretending that there was some way I could get through the parking lot, park, yank my assorted bags out of the trunk, trot my backside alllllll the way over to the platform and dive through the already closing doors and make it…the doors closed and off she went into the hills.

Without me.


And that? That? Was the 6:09. Wait. 6. It was the 6:06, and it was 6:04, so…What. The. @^*&@, ACE?!?!?!?!

I was so incensed that I got out of the car (I have no idea why this was necessary, but apparently I felt my rage should not be kept in an enclosed space), grabbed my phone and got on the Internet for ACE rail contact information so that I could read somebody the riot act. SIX. OH. SIX, PEOPLE! AND IT IS SIX. OH. FOUR RIGHT NOW, SO WHY-WHY-WHY AM I NOT ON THAT @^*&@*&ING TRAIN?!?!?

(We shall conveniently ignore the fact that getting my backside out the door in a slightly more timely fashion would have been of great help on this.)

(And that perhaps deciding to finish off an anime series – which I can only really watch after the Denizens are safely in bed on account of because it may have been a tad on the gory side – was probably not my best plan ever on a work night.)

And thus it was that I learned that six.oh.six is actually…the six.oh.four.


Fortunately, I learned this on the website and not by being told so by somebody who had just been chewed out by me about their lack of consideration and inexcusable ahead-of-timeliness.

And then I started to kick the tire because something had to suffer along with me.

And then I noticed that, just to mock me, that stupid tire was all flabby again.

I considered my options very, very carefully.

And then I went and bought doughnuts for the Denizens, drank some more coffee, annoyed the husband until he gave up and got out of bed, and settled in for another work from home day.

Where one of the keywords for my position is attention to detail.

I was born for this line of work, people.


(Oi. So glad Friday is National Congress Resolved At Some Point We Are Pretty Sure And If You Do Not Believe Us You Can Go Look It Up On Their Website That It Is A Basic Human Right To Work From Home On Fridays No Matter What Day. I’m a little afraid of what might happen if I were to miss that train again tomorrow…I might spontaneously combust or something…)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Not that I'm counting, but...

Statistically-speaking, I have roughly 312,816 hours left with this particular incarnation. And 233,256 hours of working life ahead of me. I should have increasingly-less dependent, yet nevertheless constantly underfoot Denizens around for another 129,888 hours or so. I have another 32 hours of work-for-paycheck to go this week...1777 hours altogether for this contract.

Whole lotta time right there.

And yet...finding the guesstimated 2.8 hours left to finish the knitted-on border for this shawl...seems...challenging.

Ah, time. Such an abundant kind of scarcity...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hel-LO, what's this...

I am suffering from a MASSIVE case of motivation deficiency.

I had a TINY amount of ambition first thing this morning, but that was about two hundred years ago and is only remembered as a mythic legend.

I frequently am not exactly squealing with EXCITEMENT over chores, but today I am not merely unenthusiastic, I am downright recalcitrant about it.

Don't wanna...ain't gonna...

SO INSTEAD OF TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS (which I am SO going to regret later)...I am...uh......cleaning out the closet!

I think I bought this in 1994, the year it was put out...I used to do these  CONSTANTLY...until suddenly, there were TODDLERS in the house. Eeeeeeyeah. Toddlers + Scissors + Butterfly-shaped yarn organizer = Disaster waiting to happen...so I put it (and whackity-uncounted unopened kits) "away" until Someday, when it would be (relatively) safe to leave such things out.

That day...has come.

And I am so happy, because it is enjoyable to do this again.

And I am ever-so-VERY-slightly melancholy.

There are no babies in the Den anymore...no toddlers I must  protect from pokey needles and sharp scissors, who will unorganize my yarn and maybe eat it...and no frantic phone calls to the long-suffering advice nurse because I can't find my needle and Baby is acting like she's got a tummy ache...emergency pediatric visits...

...OK! Melancholy gone now! Back to pretty girly flowers and Advanced Chore Avoidance...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

But then, there was bonus rock candy

So, meanwhile in other news...I have had a miserable, rotten, no-good cold all week. ALL week. It started last Thursday with a sniffle and has raged up and down ever since. And by 'up and down,' I mean 'I am tricked into thinking it is getting better while the 12-hour decongestant is working, only to be rudely disabused of this notion when it abruptly wears off six hours later.'

Last night before bed, I was playing the 'I can't POSSIBLY still be contagious, I should probably go in to the office tomorrow' game.

Because I had just taken my nightly dose of prescription pain medication for my Usual And Customary hip/back pain, AND a snort of Afrin.

...feelin' pretty darned good, thank YOU...

Then, at 2:24 in the morning...ping!

Sweating. Sneezing. Congested. Headache. Chills. Ugh, hot! Chills! Hot! CHILLS! HOT!...achoo!-hack-hack...(repeat for four VERY long hours, because do I have sense enough to just GET UP? Of course not! No, I'm just SURE that I am going to get back to sleep any second now, because I'm so damned tired.

That this has seldom ever happened without chemical assistance never enters my mind.

And then it was time to get up, so I did.

And I am epic-tired and will probably take an actual sick day today.

Because brain dead and SQL Server don't mix well.

And my daytime decongestant isn't WORKING, and I don't have any clean JEANS, and none of my favorite SOCKS are clean either...I mean, REALLY.

Could this day get any less pleasant?!

Oh well...at least there was still a LITTLE syrup left for my pancakes...(rattle-rattle-PLOINK!)

Eeeeeeeeee! I gots the 'last of the maple syrup' rock candy!

I WIN!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Paying Down v. Holding Onto

This is such an awesome (and not at all ignorant) question!! From the post yesterday, Elizabeth asks:

OK, but I have an ignorant budget question. Sticking with your scenario of spending only $200 of the $650 grocery budget example...

Why, instead of holding the unspent grocery for later - even though we know there will be a later - do you not dump that onto debt? Is it because when that killer month comes you don't have to add back to the debt? But, even if that's the case, doesn't it save you some interest? Is it just too complicated this way?

It’s a perfectly logical thing to do, putting any ‘extra’ cash from the household budget into debt reduction. You do usually save at least some interest, although the actual savings can be less than you’d think – especially if you’re going to turn right around and charge things back on, and your issuer is using the ‘average daily balance’ method to compute your interest charges. The longer you go between ‘extra payment’ and ‘extra charges,’ the better off you are…but, well.

Let’s say you’ve got $5,000 sitting at 15.99% on a card with average daily balance interest calculation (which is the majority of credit cards – check your statement or {gulp!} disclosure agreement if you’re not sure if that’s how your card rolls), and your normal payment is $250. This month, you add that extra $450 from the grocery budget to your payment.

Normally, your average daily balance after the $250 payment was applied on day 3 of the 30-day cycle would lead to a monthly finance charge of (roughly) $63.52. If you make that extra $450 payment and charge nothing new, you end up with about $57.92 – saving yourself $5.60 in interest.

But, if on Day 17 of the cycle you put that $450 back on the card to buy something you now can’t afford because you made that extra payment instead, your average balance at the end of the full thirty days earns you a $61.32 interest charge – you’re down to only $2.20 saved in interest.

And if it happens earlier in the month, even just a week earlier, say on day 10, your interest savings drops to only $0.80.

On the one hand, it’s still a savings…on the other, it would be (for me, anyway) a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Day 3 when I make the payment I’m all, “Yay me! I rock! I’m paying an extra $450 to this, yippeeeeee!”…and then, a week or two later, I’m pulling that card out of my wallet and thinking, “…dammit, I suck…I shoulda known this was gonna happen…meh…” {begin downward spiral of self-loathing, buy a few extra things since a) I’m a lost cause anyway and furthermore b) a little pick-me-up is probably needed around now and plus c) not like it matters since we’re all doomed anyway, etc. etc. etc.}

But even if I wanted to do that anyway…I personally can’t. The accounts I’m paying down at this point aren’t available to me in that way, so if I send them money I can’t turn around later and say, “Wait, actually, I need that back!” and charge something new to them.

Meanwhile in other news, I’ve sharply limited my ready access to new debt. I can’t just run out and charge up things if I find myself short – I’ll just have to let whatever it is go if the money isn’t there for it. Which I find to be less awful than ending up with a whack of new debt I didn’t want, but which is still darned annoying when I had known this day was coming, but instead of being smart and keeping the money I knew I needed, I’d gone ahead and blown it all on Something Else – because it was there, and the Something Else was there, and oh…what the heck!

That’s why this has suddenly become a more difficult challenge for me than it used to be; back in the day, I could smooth out those hills and valleys quite a bit by using the grace period on Old Reliable. Now that I’ve switched over to a card with a lesser limit and gotten rid of all the “extra” cards I wasn’t using, I’ve been discovering just how hard I used to lean on that available credit.

Which of course was what got us into the first round of trouble, you know? I could float things, so I did; then I could finance things, so I did; then I could make the payments work…on increasingly tight margins…so I did. Because whatever-all I was buying seemed so necessary, so important, so not-optional.

Hindsight is so much clearer than day to day vision. When I look back, what we got in exchange for all those new debts was so not worth the price we ended up paying, especially when I throw in the stress of watching the security we fought so hard to get crumble like a dried-out sandcastle around me.

I remind myself of that whenever I get frustrated with my new limits, when I have to let something I want pass me by because I wasn’t able to get the cash together for it, when some stupendously awesome deal pops up on my radar and ooooooooh, gawd, I want to grab this, the price per unit is just crazy good…but…it’s a $150 minimum purchase, and I only have $100…it frustrates me no end. It makes me feel poor. It makes me feel like I’m not doing it right, somehow.

But at the same time, I know I am doing it right. I’m not going to let us go there again, not without having to work at it a little harder.

So, for me…I need to hold onto money I know I’m going to need, and keep it available to me when the time finally comes to part with it.

Even if there's a really good sale, or I find myself tempted to add just that little bit more to the debt repayment.

It just won't be worth it, in the end.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Money Monday: May 16, 2011

Well. I finally got around to fiddling with the budget. Gads. You’d think it would be easier by now…but it isn’t, for the simple reason that I am a crazy person I have somewhat extraordinary buying patterns.

With a lot of outliers.

Which is fancy statistics-speak for randomly scattered big line items.

Which is another way of saying, I do things like buy meat by the whole animal and maple syrup six gallons at a time, plus instead of buying a nice little supermarket-box of Cream of Wheat, I order up a 25-pound sack of farina (which is what Cream of Wheat is, in case you didn’t know that) (which very few of us do, before some smart aleck comes along to go, “Hey, did you know Cream of Wheat is actually just farina?” in oh, EVERYBODY knows that! tones so that you’re all, gee, what’s wrong with me, that I didn’t know that, I must be a real dufus or something! when actually, I suspect there’s only about nine people in whole world who know and/or retain this information).

Which tends to make my monthly grocery bill look like this:

January: $Negligible
February: $Negligible
March: $YOWSA!!!!
April: $Negligible
…and so on…

Same thing with the clothing purchases, which tend to be made in two or three B-I-G shopping experiences rather than a bunch of little nibbles throughout the year…and just about everything else, really.

What I then end up doing is really kind of laughable. Obviously, I know I need to look at a good, long period – twelve month at least.

And equal in obvious-factor, I need to abide by those numbers, and not start playing, “Oh, ya, but…there was That One Thing in there, sooooo, I can totally shave, eh, a good $300 off that monthly figure…” game.

PLUS, once I’ve managed to overcome my denial and smoothed those numbers down into a workable budget – I need to stick to it. In both directions.

We have a tendency to spend what we have. It’s just human nature – and if you have given yourself $X to spend on something, and you don’t spend it, well! It becomes mad money, right?!

But I can’t really do that. If I’ve got a grocery budget of $650, and I only spend $200 in a given months, I can’t just go ahead and spend the other $450 on something else – I need to just hold onto it, in the ‘grocery’ envelope, and wait.

The Big Spend is coming – inevitably, it is coming.

So one of my big challenges is to really pay attention to how my spending is lining up with the overall budget, and to try to stay with it – even if my “problem” is what appears to be excess cash piling up. (And if I don’t actually end up needing it, well, so much the better! But if I do…I don’t want to be sobbing into my decaf about how I shoulda knoooooown this was coming. It’s embarrassing. And then I get pissed about it. And everything just kind of goes downhill from there.)

Overall, though, I think I’ve got a workable go-forward budget in place; the core expenses are all covered by the husband’s paycheck, which leaves mine responsible for childcare and pushing forward on the bigger goals – paying off those remaining bills, bumping up our savings, and trying to position ourselves better for the future. It’s cool to see things line up like that again; we’re still pretty close to the margin, but if I can stay the course and keep working those expenses down, pay things off and keep reducing obligations, we can come out of this (ahem) experience with nothing more than a few new scars on our psyches.

Which we can pretend we got in a knife fight. Oh, THAT debt-related paranoia? Ya, got it in a knife fight in the outback, mate…THERE I WAS, surrounded by ninja crocodiles…!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The following blog silence is brought to you by…

10 Secrets of the LaidBack Knitters: A Guide to Holistic Knitting, Yarn, and Life , which finally arrived.

It’s one of those eye-catching books. You know, with pictures. Of yarn. And yarn- wool-bearing critters. And things you can make with the yarn that the yarn- wool-bearing critters produce.

But sadly, so far, there are only about nine things I want to actually make.

Wait. Ten.

But that’s about it.

Oh. Except also that one.

Tell you what. I’ll get back to you with the final count of things from this book that I’ll soon be whining about not having enough time to even think about starting, ‘kay?

(All kidding aside, this is a visually stunning book. I could sit here and stare at the pictures of yarn all day long. And perhaps tellingly, I see nothing weird about that.)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Faceplant +10

Wow. I hit a wall last night. This happens from time to time; I mean, there is the usual 'end of a long day' tired that it would be irrational not to expect, given my too-early alarm and refusal/inability to get to bed at an hour that makes sense given said alarm.

If I want eight hours, I have to be in bed by 7:30.

Yeah. THAT'S gonna happen.

So generally, I'm going on between four and six hours of shut-eye. Which means that I'm prone to a unique form of lethargy in the early evening.

But last night, {long, low whistle!}

Yeah. I was in bed shortly after 8:00.

And I think I'd actually been asleep for a good hour and a half by then.

BUT, on the plus side, I feel sooooo much better this morning!

And, I'm almost halfway through the knitted on border of the shawl!

OH yeah. Life is good...

Monday, May 09, 2011

Pointed Monday and Food Altars

Yesterday evening, I made a double batch of a new recipe; I had decided that this year, I wanted to try more new things, ESPECIALLY the "fiddly" stuff I'm always passing up because I decide they can't possibly be worth all the huff and bother.

But I don't usually go for a double batch on something NEW. Because, who knows? What if I hate it? What if it's gross? What if, upon reflection, I want to tweak the recipe a tad? (That ONLY happens about 93% of the time, after all.)

BUT. The Food Altar at work has been even more neglected than my blog these last couple months.

And I have lost THREE entire patches of "crops" (is a 20 x 15 patch enough to warrant the word "crop"?). Possibly it is just coincidence, sure...or the fact that I do not have the available time to apply the organic pest control methods of hand-picking the varmints off my fields, or washing their leaves plant by plant with anti-chewing-varmint soap.

But MAYBE, the Food Gods are irked with me for not honoring them by plonking baked goods onto the Food Altar for my team to share.

Which is why I made a double batch of apple bread - a cardoman-scented yeast bread with thin slices of cinnamon-sugar coated apples tucked into it. One entire loaf vanished before it was even cool enough to touch with bare fingers, one is in the fridge at home for Denizen breakfasts, and the other two are on the Food Altar to appease the Food Gods and feed my team.

Also, I'm on the pointy, knitted-on border of the Spirit of the Southwest shawl. These knitted on borders are such a psych..."Yay! I'm done, the last row, row 202 at last, all 393 stitches of it, wooooo hooooooooo, now I just need to...knit these 24 fiddly rows...about....800 times...at thirty minutes per pattern repeat....(sob)..."

(but it's awfully pretty...I'll forgive it in the end..."

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Why perfect organic apples are rare and costly

This is one of the most fiddly things I've done to date out here: A technique I picked up from an organic methods article to help achieve apples that are neither full of bugs (big No Want), or hopelessly scarred (eh, whatever, I ain't selling to no supermarket - long as the flavor is good, they can be as fugly as they like).

So, you take Ziplock sandwich bags, zip them around your budding apples, poke a couple small holes for drainage, and there you are. Hopefully, these protected fruits will be worm-free and unblemished.

And it took approximately forever to do just a couple dozen 'test apples.'

Which is probably why a supermarket organic apple of perfect skin is so danged price. I can't imagine doing a whole tree, let alone a whole ORCHARD!

(Our bug problem is epic this year. LOTS of 100% crop death. Bitter reminder about why it was that we humans worked so hard to develop the pesticides we now disdain...)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Lacy pings and drunken monkeys

I had the day off yesterday...where of course "off" is a word that is...open to interpretation. But my back had started firing warning shots Sunday, so I had decided to be all sensible and some junk, scratched all the "heavy lifting" and "crouching" and "hunched over like a gargoyle" stuff off my list.

"A little light housework," I said, "and then we'll switch to Equally Important But Less Physical Computer Stuff."

Less than half an hour in to my light housework, in the VERY FIRST ROOM, I saw...something...wadded up behind my rocking chair. DARN THOSE KIDS, I groused to myself, and grabbed the front of the chair to slide it forward so I could reach whatever-it-was...

It never ceases to astonish me, how my back can DO this to me. It will let me do all manner of inane things, and only punish me with a mild-to-moderate level of next-day ache. And frankly, if I do NOT engage in a certain level of inane physical activity you wouldn't think was a good idea, my punishment is generally worse...it might feel good at the time to just loaf around, but it rapidly becomes this downward spiral where every little thing hurts more and more, until I have become a Couch Slug and practically require a shot of morphine straight into my spine and hip to get moving again.

But then, after being all forgiving like that...I will do something like this...pull a light chair, which is on runners on a Berber-style carpet so it slides so easily it's actually annoying, and........ping!

...and I'm sitting breathless, weeping and cussing and telling myself encouraging things like, "Don't you DARE throw up! You think you can handle the carpet cleaner right now?! I DIDN'T THINK SO, YOU JUST SUCK IT UP, MISSY!!!!!!"

Because I am a good nurse like that.


I'm going to be moving *cautiously* for a while...


Lace. Specifically, a Southwest Shawl from Fibertrends.

...you just never know what the Den is going to disgorge, whenever you start tidying up...