Thursday, February 28, 2008

Better late than never?

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, I start decorating for Christmas. I always bring out all of my Christmas books, and read them... or at least flip through them. On that I do always manage to read is "The Little Book of Christmas Joys" because it's one of those little books with like two sentences per page, full of cheerful ideas about how to spend the holidays in the most meaningful fashion.

I am a complete sucker for this kind of thing btw.

I love traditions, however lame they might be. As much as I rolled my eyes and pretended to be annoyed. I did actually enjoy it when J. would point out the place where she took her GRE (EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.WE.DROVE.BY.)... because it was our little tradition.

Anyway, one of the cheerful ideas was to "Sleep under a homemade quilt on Christmas Eve." and I got it in my head that I really wanted a special Christmas quilt that I could use on Christmas Eve. (Never mind the fact that I sleep under a homemade quilt *every* night...that's a summer quilt so it doesn't count) As it was still late November, early December when I got this idea, I figured it would be no problem to do a quick & easy quilt and have it done in time.

I started well. I already had some holiday appropriate flannels in my stash.

OK... they're not super traditional Christmassy fabrics... but it's Santa, and flannels that match Santa.

As I was on a tight time-line, I decided to just go with big squares and a relatively simple plan. Not a great plan... but a basic three-color fairly symmetrical pattern. I got as far as cutting them all out, and sewing them together in strips. But the three flannels are of widely differing textures. The red is really soft and flowy, no structure at all- think Grandpa's favorite shirt, the Santa flannel is a medium weight- like new PJs, and the blue is very stiff- I could hold up a block and it would keep it's shape, not flop over. Yeah, I *could* have pre-washed them, but time was of the essence.

Except that time didn't turn out to be *that* essential, because I went on my Christmas trip home in early December. When I got back I looked at my Quick & Easy quilt and realized.... this quilt sucks. Ok... maybe sucks is a bit strong... but it just didn't inspire me... so I set it aside.

Well, this weekend I did some cleaning (a LOT of cleaning actually), and when organizing some of my crafty stuff, I saw the pile of fabric for this quilt and decided, what the heck - I'll just finish it up.

Here is the quilt top.

What you can't see in this picture is that the red fabric has a grid pattern on it... but due to the floppiness of the fabric I was completely unable to get it to line-up straight when cutting it. I've actually gotten as far as pinning the top, batting & backing together... and I've already done a couple of lines of quilting. As far as the design & execution of the quilt thus far, I'm not thrilled with it. But I'm going to finish it up. The fabric came entirely from my stash (and by stash I mean fabric I bought impulsively and then let languish in a closet not knowing what to do with it for several months... or years). Being flannel, the quilt will be very warm and cozy when finished, and I think that will trump it's other qualities.

Oh well... I'm determined to finish it up. It gets cold at night a flannel quilt would be cozy even if it's not especially pretty.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Killing me softly

"Yay - mail!" I thought to myself. It certainly didn't look threatening.

Until I opened the package.

Uh Oh.

Time of Death - 6:24pm. At least it was quick & relatively painless.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

self-endulgent stream of consciousness... enter at your own risk

As an ISFJ (borderline ISTJ in fact) I am extremely good at planning and making decisions. When making a decision, I'm usually very good at thinking through the details and the consequences of doing things one way or another. The upside of something like this is that when I want to, I can make an entire Thanksgiving dinner from scratch and have everything end up on the table ready to eat at whatever predetermined dinner time I'd established when I started planning. (Contrast this with the Thanksgiving I went to at a friend's place where she didn't even have the turkey in the oven when the guests began arriving). The downside... or I should say one of the downsides is that when it's time to make a big decision, if I can't sort out all the details, and if I can't foresee all of the potential consequences - I become a bit paralyzed and overwhelmed and prefer instead not to make the decision at all, not to take the risk. Another downside is that I'm not very good at imagining things, to visualize situations I haven't experienced.

This is the problem I've been dealing with in regard to my career. I've finally figured out that I want to teach English abroad, at least for a few years. But it's been hard for me to imagine it really happening, and I've been a bit overwhelmed by the idea of trying to figure everything out.

This is the biggest thing I've ever considered doing, and there are so many details, so many consequences, so many things to think through, so many things I've never done. I've been overwhelmed and procrastinating on & off since about October. In the face of my own procrastination and the delays beyond control, I've just been really discouraged.

The current plan is for me to take the next available course - in April. I have another pre-course task to complete... it's thirty pages long, lots & lots of grammar questions. It's not hard, it's even mildly interesting. But it's solo work, to my own timetable... and that's the last thing I need right now. One of the things that appeals to me about teaching is that it is, by it's nature, interactive and somewhat immediate. I can't show up in the classroom and not teach... there will be students there waiting for me. If I'm not prepared - there will be pretty immediate feedback. At my current job I can put in about 50% effort and still accomplish all the things that are expected of one in my office knows or cares what I do all day, as long as things get done. It's soul-suckingly, mind-numbingly boring... and in it's own way exhausting.

Anyway... slowly, slowly, slowly I'm working on the pre-course task... plugging away at it. But I still can't quite keep in mind day-to-day that I could really be leaving the country as early as this summer. It doesn't seem real. I want it to happen, it just doesn't feel like it's really going to. Every once in a while it'll catch me... like I might not even be here for the presidential election! It's just bizarre. For the past several months I've thought about things like moving, or buying a new car, or getting new furniture or visiting family... and then I stop myself and I think ... well, that is if I'm still here. It's driving me crazy! Trying to plan for something that's so amorphous and thus far uncertain. I don't know what exactly to do about it, other than to take one step at a time... finish up the assignment... the least fun aspect of this whole endeavor.

Hmm... I think I had a point when I started this post. But now... not so much. I also think I've caught the cold that's been making it's rounds in my office... so my brain is getting a bit fuzzy.

Look! A kitty!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Yabba Dabba Do!

I can't believe I didn't think of this right away!

Round, orange, loves hanging out in the bowling alley - of course his name is Fred!

After properly naming him, I took him out for a few practice games. We beat our previous low score of 54...

... but not by much.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Caturday fun in the sun

Sally was spotted having fun out in the sun.

Uh oh! Sally wants to have a word with the Paparazi.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Knitters without Borders... oh, and socks!

One of the best things about being a member of an online knitting community is getting to meet fellow knitters you might never have met in real life. Not only have I met local knitters with whom I can meet up regularly, but we've been visited by knitting 'tourists' who happen to be in town for one reason or another. This is how I met Stariel (in fact, Stariel's visit was the catalyst for the Portland knitters to actually get together the first time)! One of my favorite memories though was getting to meet Gundel in Germany while on my whirlwind European vacation in 2006. Since I spent most of the time traveling on my own, it was great to get to meet up with someone I 'knew' and to get a personalized tour of her city.

Well tonight we had the pleasure of meeting Nimbus who was visiting from Canada. We had a blast at Knit-Night and then went out for some super yummy Thai food. Now if that wasn't enough excitement... I finally decided to learn how to knit two socks on two circulars!

I got as far as the magic cast-on... which was pretty fun I have to say... and the first increases. In case you're wondering... I know I'm using two different skeins of yarn. They are both Opal - one given to me by Gundel and the other by Magatha. I didn't want to divide them out and rewind them. Unlike *some* people I can't yet knit two socks on one needle from two ends of the same ball of yarn. =P I need a little more help keeping track of what I'm doing! I figure I can knit these two and go back and knit the matching pair. Or you know... I could just wear two different colored socks.

As threatened... I'm also going to gripe about store-bought socks for a minute. For full effect imagine me hand on hip & shakin' my finger! SOCKS DON'T FIT ME! Regular 'Ladies' socks (labled size 5-10... who are they kidding??) don't come anywhere close to fitting. I went down to little boys socks because usually little boy shoes fit just fine. But as you can see below... the grey "heel" is no where near my heel! It bunches up behind my ankle & hangs out over my shoe.

(Don't worry - I don't wear those socks with those shoes)

I've had some luck finding socks in the little girl's department... but it's tough to find just plain socks in those sizes. My hope is that if I finally find a way of knitting socks that I actually enjoy (I can't stand double-points!) I'll be able to knit custom fit socks. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

FO Wednesday

I haven't been knitting much since the Hat Attack... but I have done a little crafting.

Here's my second attempt at iron-on embroidery. I'm not thrilled with it. I added the big flower and thought I would do something a little different with it... but now it looks a bit too different. Oh well. I still don't know exactly what these will end up on... but that's okay - for now they're just pretty.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Name my ball!

I recently joined a bowling league. Bolstered by my first game score of 108 (the last time I played in a league I never broke 100), I decided to treat myself to my own bowling ball. The man at the pro shop was awesome and clearly well suited to his job. He measured my fingers, the span of my hand, had me flex and bend my fingers & thumb, it was great. I also picked out a bag & shoes so I am all set! The new custom drilled ball felt perfect, so I told the guy I fully expected to break 150 in my next game. =P
Well... not quite. I rolled a 54! Yup... 54 pins in 10 frames. That was possibly my worst score since Jr. High. Fortunately my team did not kick me off... so I'll be back for more next week. I think I've figured out the problem though. He needs a name! I toyed with the idea of "Homer"... but that's not terribly original. He's orange... so maybe something like "Blaze" or "Flame" but then I was thinking... it might be more appropriate to go with a stereotypical bowler name like "Al" or "Joe". But then, I've been wanting to name something "October" for a while. I need ideas. What would you name him?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Get yer freak on!

Candy-Freak that is. ;)

Candyfreak by Steve Almond was a very nice literary palette cleanser after the trauma of that last book.

First, some background:
Back in November I went to Wordstock, Portland’s enormous book festival (god I love this town!). While there I stopped at a few of the stages and listened to various authors read from their books. Steve Almond was reading from his newest book Not That You Asked, and he had us laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. When he was done I went to get the book but so did everyone else. I figured I’d skip the line & pick up the book later. If I wrote down the name of the book, I lost the note. Later I found myself in Powell’s having a conversation that went something like this.

World’s most patient man: “Can I help you?”
Me: “Um… Did you go to Wordstock? I’m looking for this book by this guy who was there.”
“I didn’t get a chance to go this year – do you remember the name of the book?”
“Um… no… but I think the author’s name is Dave or John or something.”
“Do you remember his last name?”
“Um… no…but I just remember he was at the Border’s stage.”
At this point the world’s most patient man is googling “Wordstock” to see if he can find a schedule. “Which day was it?” (Wordstock is a 4 day book festival!)
“Um… I think it was the weekend…. you know… never mind. I’m sorry.”
“Well, they’ve got a schedule online if you want to look at it.”
I glance at the schedule… there are about a million and a half speakers listed.
“I’m sorry; I’ll just go home & see if I can figure it out.”
“Ok – good luck!”

All I have to say about that is - SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORES PEOPLE!! You can bet your sweet bippy you wouldn’t get service like that at Wal-Mart.

ANYWAY I did some Google-fu and was able to figure out who it was but promptly went on to reading other books. As I was strolling through Goodwill picking up some used books I happened to see Candyfreak just sitting there on the shelf. I picked it up for $4 – not bad.

On to my highly opinionated and minimally educated book review.

Warning: Anyone concerned about their weight or blood sugar should *not* read this book. Everyone else should make sure they have a few of their favorite candy bars on hand while reading.

Plot: Mr. Almond (who is quite aware of the appropriateness of his last name), a self-described ‘candy freak’ rhapsodizes about his favorite candy bars and tours a few of the remaining small-scale regional candy factories in America.

Motto: Life is like a box of chocolates.

Opinion: The first half of this book is hilarious and borderline pornographic in it’s detailed descriptions of the author’s favorite candy bars. He loves candy. I mean he loves candy! He’s refreshingly unashamed of his sweet tooth and really knows how to let his freak flag fly. We start with a brief history of the candy bar and a review of the varieties of candies that have been available in different regions of the US - Necco Wafers, Goo Goo Clusters, Idaho Spuds. From there he actually visits the candy factories and gives us an insider’s view of how each component of a candy bar is created & compiled into the finished products we enjoy. It’s a bit like a real-life Charlie & the Chocolate Factory & a lot of fun to read.

In the second half of the book, however, his mood turns morose as he reflects on the economic power of the big three candy companies and how they have forced many local candy manufacturers out of the business. He also does more than a little navel-gazing and musing about his own life… and frankly that part is boring. But it’s a short book, with a relatively upbeat ending.

Recommendation: Borrow this book from the library (or me) and read the first half with a pile of your favorite candies nearby. Mmmmmmm…chocolate!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Audacity of Caturday

Sally's reading up on the candidates.

She's displeased with Obama's pro-dog agenda.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Singles Awareness & Appreciation Day (also book club take 2)

Today is, as I'm sure you know, Singles Awareness & Appreciation Day (SAAD), one of my favorite holidays of the year! As per usual I will be celebrating by listening to the Alanis Morrisette's Jagged Little Pill album and eating lots of chocolate cake. Be sure to remember your favorite single people by sending flowers, or as is more typical, just sending cash. ;)

Thanks for all your comments regarding the bizzaro book club I went to on Tuesday. As I've mentioned (about four hundred times now) it was the Everybody Reads book and as such, there was another book club at a different library on Wednesday. I went and kept an eye out for any professional 'facilitators'. This book club was at the Belmont Library deep in the heart of the People's Republic of Southeast Portland and could not have been more different. The librarian started out by having everyone introduce themselves and immediately asked if anyone had participated in any of the other activities related to this book that are going on around town. And from there... surprise surprise, people talked! About the book!! It was great.

We discussed the horrors that the boy soldiers are subjected to, and how similar attrocities are occuring throughout the world. One woman shared her experience of teaching young refugees who had lost arms & hands in the fighting. And older gentleman made comparisons to the style of fighting that took place in Vietnam. Another gentleman brought up the mineral trade (and exploitation there of) as one of the root causes of global conflict. We discussed the similarities between the indoctrination described in the book and the "training" that takes place at Parris Island (where my nephew just went through boot camp). The human capacity for both good an evil was a continuous theme in our discussion. Basically we talked about the book, we talked about life, lots of different opinions were shared and everyone got a chance to say something. It was wonderful. My faith in book clubs is restored. =)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

When Book Club Goes Bad

Oh man. OH MAN!!! Tonight’s book club was something else. Because this was the Everybody Reads book group, the library brought in an ‘expert’ to facilitate our discussion. You know it’s going to get interesting when they bring in an ‘expert.’ Last year’s expert wanted to bring in all kinds of sociological theories but the discussion group pretty much shut her down and to her credit she mostly sat back and let us discuss the book which is what one would expect in a book group. This gal… oh man.

She starts out by introducing herself. She’s about as American as they come yet she pronounced her name with as much French inflection as she could. That kind of thing annoys me… but I was still willing to give her a chance. But then she went into a fifteen minute lecture on post-modern literary theory (she’s a Professor at PSU). The book is just an artifact, it has no meaning, it’s just squiggles of ink on pressed wood-pulp. Which of course begs the question of why the hell we’re there to discuss it if there’s no meaning to it at all. But I patiently waited and listened as she went on to talk about the three types of questions we’re allowed to ask of the book, fact based questions, interpretation questions (as the only meaning the book has is our interpretations of it), and value questions - was the book good or bad (but then she immediately states that this is the most useless kind of question).

Oh man. She just went on and on. Then right when I thought we might actually get to discuss the book she feels the need to point out that although it’s called a “memoir” we really shouldn’t treat it as “fact” that the only truth is that which we bring to it, etc etc etc… that the literature professors of the world would like to eliminate the distinction between fiction & nonfiction. And that when we learn to treat all books as constructs we won’t be as likely to be "duped" by memoirs that turn out to be fabricated. OH MAN!!

So *finally* about twenty minutes into the hour discussion, someone other than the ‘facilitator’ gets to ask a question. A fellow discusser comments that she didn’t feel a very strong emotional connection to the book and asks for some clarifications about the family situation. I answer her question about the family and agree that I didn’t feel that much of an emotional connection to the author either. At which point the facilitator corrects me by saying “This character the author created.” I have never wanted so much to hurl a book across the room at someone as I did in that moment. Instead I gathered myself and very patiently said that “In my interpretation of the book, I’m choosing to believe that the author *is* the character he is writing about in his memoir.” To which she further enlightened me by pointing out that “Saying something is ‘made up’ has such a negative connotation, but it really doesn’t need to.” OH MAN!!!!

The rest of the ‘discussion’ followed much the same vein. People attempted to discuss the book and the facilitator interrupted us, corrected our na├»ve and uneducated ‘interpretations’ of the story, and periodically brought up the fact that books portraying wars in Western Africa are merely feeding into our society’s innate racism. Oh man. It’s possible I was imagining the sigh of relief I heard when the librarian came in and told us it was time to wrap things up. But as we were filing out of the library it was clear that I was not the only one who had a problem with our facilitator. I had to reassure a first time visitor that typically it’s just one of the lowly community members (not a licensed, bonded facilitator) who leads the discussion and that lacking a Ph.D. in literature, we usually just let everyone you know… discuss the book.

Oh well. There’s always next month.

Monday, February 11, 2008

a long way gone

Time for another highly opinionated and minimally educated book review.

My High School friends have begun to suspect I haven't told them the full story of my life.

"Why did you leave Sierra Leone?"

"Because there is a war."

"Did you witness some of the fighting"

"Everyone in the country did."

"You mean you saw people running around with guns and shooting each other?"

"Yes, all the time"


I smile a little.

"You should tell us about it sometime."

"Yes, sometime."

These are the opening words of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah, Multnomah County's Everybody Reads book for 2008. This is one of those books that people safe in the US should be obligated to read. Particularly anyone who's been griping about their comparatively comfortable & trouble free life (moi? non).

Plot: The story is pretty basic, although excruciatingly detailed. Beah and some school friends walk to another town one day, only to run right into the chaos of civil war fighting. When they return to their villiage their familes have fled as have the rest of their neighbors. The first section of the book details the children's attempt to avoid the fighting while wandering towards a safer area. The next section details Beah's conscription into the national army, his experiences fighting and killing rebels and villagers. Finally the book covers Beah's rescue & rehabillitation and eventual reintegration into society and family life.

Motto: All of those young lives betrayed...

Opinion: Personal reactions only, I had a nightmare about this book when I was only a few chapters in. The idea of the children (I believe they were only 10-11 when first separated from their families) wandering around in the jungle, cold tired, scared and hungry... so hungry... it's just intolerable for someone as warm, comfortable and well fed as I. As bad as I felt for the author and his friends, it only got worse from there.

Beah is unflinching in his descriptions of his experience in the army. In particular he talks about doing drugs and watching Rambo movies with fellow soldiers then reenacting the scenes in their next attack. He talks of looking a man in the eye before slitting his throat... he was not more than 15. It's intense. Honestly I considered not finishing the book. I set it down for a couple of days and really thought about if I could continue reading it. Ultimately I decided that I wanted to honor this boy's experience by finishing his memoir. If he could live through the experience, I could live through reading about it.

Fortunately shortly after I started reading again the story progressed to his rescue and rehabilitation in a UN sponsored center for boys. It's a long process, but eventually he begins to heal and reclaim a bit of his childhood. Extended family members are located and Beah is welcomed with open arms. At this point the author begins speaking on behalf of children affected by the war, and is chosen to represent Sierra Leone in a UN workshop on the state of children in the world in New York. He comes back home, and just when you think it's time to live happily ever after, the civil war reaches the city where he is now living, and the rebels overthrow the government. All is not completely lost...although the memoir is left somewhat open ended, he does escape Sierra Leone, and eventually returns to New York where he now lives.

For as important as I feel this book is, I don't think it was especially well written. It's detailed, but emotionally detached. That might be a defense mechanism for the author... I mean, he lived through these horrors and I can't imagine what it must be like to have to relive it in writing the book. I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to read more about the plight of child-soldiers around the world, but reader beware, it's graphic, it's disturbing and it's true.

I'll be going to the book club discussion Tuesday night and it should prove to be very interesting indeed.

As this book took a lot of effort to finish, the next book I'll be reading is Candy Freak by Steve Almond. I don't anticipate any nightmares from this one.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

There's still a lot of head up there!

Yesterday was my first foray into knitting combat, and it was awesome.

"Knitting Combat?" You may wonder. It doesn't quite fit with the stereotype of grandma knitting booties in a rocking chair does it? (Not that there's anything wrong with that ;) )

Hat Attack was an international game of knitting assasination. Knitters sign up online, and each one is assigned both an assasin and a target. On Saturday morning a pattern is posted and each participant tries to knit the hat and get it in the mail to their target before their assasin's hat reaches them.... because once you get your hat - you're dead! If you die before you finish your hat, you've got to send your hat-in-progress to your assasin for them to finish up & use to kill your target as well. It's a bit confusing, but a whole lot of fun! Especially when you meet up with a bunch of your fellow assasins to spend all day knitting at a cafe.

Given how crappy my Friday was, I really wasn't sure if I wanted to participate. But when I got to the cafe I felt better almost immediately. There were five of us all in different stages of progress. The 'weapon' was a Binary cable hat. The stacks of cable crosses (1) and no crosses (0) were to graphically indicate the numbers 0 - 15. I'm not going to pretend I have binary memorized or anything... but the cable pattern is really cool and fun to knit. If I don't like the hat I am killed with, I'll make another for myself. =)

Between the knitting, comparing progress, trash-talking and threats to unravel each other's knitting, CAKE, and chatting- a good time was had by all! One knitter managed to finish up the hat & mail it off by early afternoon. I got about halfway done before deciding to call it a day & go home. I did finish the hat by the end of the day though... so my target will be dead sometime on Tuesday. ;)

But the fact is, hats are a pretty quick knit so I'm guessing there will be mass carnage on Monday or Tuesday and it will all be over by the end of the week. Someone suggested that next time we make a scarf & mittens to go with the hat. That would be fun... prolong the battle a bit. I'll definitely join in next time.

Friday, February 8, 2008

February Sucks Ass

you were probably all thinking it... I'm just going to come out and say it!

- Someone I "knew" online died from a crappy disease. I didn't know her well (even in online terms) but I knew she had two small children, and mothers with little babies just should not die from crappy diseases... it just shouldn't be allowed!

- Other people I know have had crap hands dealt to them recently - in one case not getting a (well deserved!!) promotion, and in another dealing with family stuff that is just shitty & unfair.

- The weather's been gloomy & horrid all over... which is not in and of itself a reason to get cranky... but I think it adds to the overall suckitude of February.

And on a more personal note:

- Today I royally fucked up at work. ROYALLY! And it's completely, absolutely, inexcusibly, 100% my fault (well, maybe 99% my fault... but pretty much entirely my fault). I'm not going to go into details about what happened, but it was completely due to being a moron and will mostly likely result in a loss of $500,000. OUCH!! (as an aside I remember working as an accountant and not being able to balance my account... I'd be off by an annoying amount like $7.82 or $39.46 but I'd comfort myself by saying "screw it - I'd pay that much not to have to find it" I would find it eventually, but it made me feel better knowing that it wasn't *that* big of a deal.... this $500,000 is a pretty big deal)

- After work I really should have just gone to bed, but I figured I would go run some errands so I wouldn't feel like the day was a complete waste. I was going to treat myself to some genuinely evil fast food (criss-cut fries in ranch dressing... oh yeah), then go grocery shopping. Feeling rebelious I decided not to wear a coat (sometimes, I just get sick of wearing my big ol' winter coat). I figured I'd only have to walk from my car to Carls Jr. or from the car to the grocery store. Oh man did the universe have something else in store for me!

As I'm driving down the street my car's "your lights are on" bell starts dinging. I'm thinking WTF - I *know* my lights are on - it's dark out! So I turn my lights out and back on and the thing stops dinging. My first thought is that the dinger is broken because it rarely if *ever* actually successfully notifies me that I've left my lights on - which is why I have to carry jumper cables in my car. ANYWAY I stop at a light, start going again and the dinger starts dinging again. I'm looking at all the lights on my dash trying to figure out if there's an actual problem - but the 'check engine' light isn't on. The dinger stops... then starts again after another light. I'm getting pissed off when I finally realize the dial thingy is all the way on H which I assume means my car is "hot" although, honestly I have NO idea what that means. I also realize that I'm a few hundred miles overdue for an oil change and that my car is probably trying to notify me of this fact.

Fortunately there's a Jiffy Lube right there, so I pull in. And as the guy is coming up to my car I tell him "My car dial is on H and I think there's something wrong with it" and he doesn't even look at the car (which is now making very unhappy noises) "You should turn off your car right now! It sounds like you've blown a rod" - I didn't know my car *had* a rod! Anyway.... the guys at the Jiffy Lube tell me there's something bad about my car... terms like "head gasket" and "coolant" and "water line" are bandied about... the only part I understood was when they said "If you keep driving - your engine will blow up." I decided to believe them. They pushed my car over to the parking lot & gave me a recommendation for a mechanic. FUCK!!!

I *had* plans to go to breakfast tomorrow morning with the Hat Attack knitters... but it's not looking like that's going to happen now. Crap. =(

Since there was nothing more I could do, I just took the bus home. Remember how I oh so cavalierly decided to head out sans winter coat? Now I'm stuck with the prospect of waiting god knows how long for a bus out in the cold. Fortunately I had the good sense to dress warmly today anyway and I never leave the house in the winter without a wool hat.... so I didn't freeze to death or anything but still. I hate being cold.

So I stopped for some chinese food when I had to transfer busses downtown and check out what my fortune cookie says:

"You should be able to undertake and complete anything you desire"... not "You are able to..." or even "You will be able to..." but "You should be able to..." As in... yeah you should be able to undertake and complete anything you desire, but you won't because you're too much of a moron to know how to read a calendar or take proper care of your car! Guilt trip from a fortune cookie - just what I needed. It's possible I'm reading a bit too much into the cookie... I do that.

Anyway. I'm now back at home. Sally is curled up at my feet and I realize that as crappy as today was, it's hardly the end of the world.

- My awesome boss did *not* fire me, even though I totally think she had every right to. In fact she didn't even yell, but launched into "how can we fix this, and how can we make sure this never happens again" mode, which is why she's the most awesome boss in the world.

- In addition to not being fired, today was payday and I know I'll be able to pay for whatever repairs are necessary to my car.

- The gods were kind and decided not to send freezing rain down on my unjacketed self... and it was actually not intollerably cold out.

- Trimet... for once *was* on time, so I didn't have to wait indefinately at the dark & unfamiliar bus stop. In fact, I feel fortunate to live someplace where the public transport (although FAR from perfect) is fairly adequate and even if I decide not to fix my car, I'll be able to get around well enough without it for a while.

- And I am most thankful that the Plaid Pantry across the street from my bus stop at home sells both alcohol and chocolate ice cream!

(although WTH kind of ice cream is "blue bunny"???? They used to have Ben & Jerry's!)

I still say February sucks ass.... but at least it's the shortest month.

And DUDE! My spell checker isn't working (duh... someone was talking about that in the blogosphere the other day) forgive allllll my misspellings. Count it towards the cumulative ass-suckingness of the month.

If you can't say something nice...

...come sit by Sally. ;)

What is Caturday for if not for being catty?

Sally hates:

Other Cats
Being picked up
An empty food dish
"earthquakes" (cough cough J!)
being woken up
getting moved off the couch/papers/bed/wherever she is and wants to remain

What about you?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Cover Girls

I've been noticing something lately. Whenever I see popular magazines, I can never identify the woman on the cover. Now I know I have some face-to-name memory problems, and regularly call people I know by the wrong name... but this is different. I'll be looking at the picture and have *no* clue who it is. This would make sense if I had no TV, but I do and I'll admit to watching Access Hollywood and other celebrity shows - I know who the big stars are. So I don't think it's that.

I know that photographers & magazine editors have always done whatever tricks they could to make their stars & models look better than they do in real life... but I think we've finally gotten to the point where they just make them all look identical! Check it out: Is it just me or do they look identical? All of them have the same shade of blonde hair, all have the exact same shade of skin, the exact same teeth, the same noses. It's freaking me out! It's one thing to want a good picture... but now they don't even look like *people* they all just look like generic barbie dolls. CREEPY!!!!!

So I bought BUST. She's airbrushed, but at least I could tell who it was!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

talkin' 'bout the stash

I have mixed feelings about stashing (yarn & fabric mostly). On the one hand, I don't have a lot of room in my apartment at times I feel like my stashes are taking over. It also feels decidedly impractical to have significantly more fabric & yarn than I have projects going on at any given time. But on the other hand, I love shopping, I love sales, and I'm covering all my bills, so if I want to go a little crazy at the fabric store/ yarn shop/ craft fair... no big woop. However I do sometimes feel guilty about how much 'stuff' I have. I've had some serious cognitive dissonance about it. But after this weekend, I've finally made peace with my stash.

I got up on Saturday with the intention of going downtown, to get some work done at the library, then maybe visit a new yarn shop. As I blogged about earlier, it was snowing, but I know that Tri-met has chains for the busses and generally keeps going, even in the snow. So I got ready and went out to my bus stop.

I was comforted by the bus-tracks I saw on the road, wrapped my scarf around my face & settled in to wait. When the bus finally showed up it just kinda stopped a block away just before turning onto my street (where the white car is). After a minute or so a bunch of people got off the bus and started walking down the hill. One of them told me the bus was stuck. =( I went up and saw that there were no chains on the bus, and the driver (clad in shorts & a polo shirt!!!) said they hadn't expected the snow & he was sliding all over the hill. Oh well. Rather than wait for the someone to arrive with chains, I just went back home.

But what to do... what to do? My hand is feeling better, but I still want to give it a day or two before I try knitting again. And it occurred to me that it's been mighty cold lately, and ever since I made the Little Boy Blue quilt I've been wanting a similar one for myself. Of course, mine would have to be in my signature color scheme!

So, I went into my stash and pulled out a stack of 2 1/2 inch squares, most of which I'd trimmed down from leftovers from other projects.

But a couple of these fabrics I picked up at the Fabric Depot outdoor sale this summer for no reason other than that they are pink (surprise) and they were 50% off (or better... this is really a great sale). Pure stash fabrics. Sure, being pink, there was a good chance I'd use them eventually, but I had no project in mind at the time.
Now, there were already nearly enough squares to make the top of the quilt I had in mind, but with these three one yard cuts I knew I also had enough for the borders, backing & even binding. I was so thrilled about being able to get started on a quilt (and in theory finishing it) without having to go to the fabric store that I made peace with the idea of stashing, and as soon as the snow melted I made my way over to the Fabric Depot Superbowl Sale to do some guilt-free stashing.

Happy little batiks are good to have on hand in case of future snow-storms. ;)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Rain we can deal with

It can rain from October through June and Portland doesn't blink an eye. People hike, bike, run and play in the rain. I've even gone swimming in the rain. It just doesn't stop us.

But snow? No. Half an inch of snow on the valley floor will shut the city down.

This is my street, note the swirvey tire tracks and understand why I don't drive when it snows!

Actually, I figured out what the problem is. Our snow is barely snow, it's on the edge between snow & slush. When you step in it, rather than hearing a nice muffled crunch (the sound of the snow I grew up with) it's more of a squish. In comaparison to ice cream, it's like soft-serve. So when you drive on it... you're almost immediately hydroplaning. Even cars with 4 wheel drive end up in the ditch.

BTW, not unlike "Storm Team 12", I'll be milking Saturday's snow-'storm' for all it's worth. More pictures later. ;)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Snowy Caturday

It been snowing this week.

Sally was not impressed. She required quite a bit of encouragement to go outside for a photoshoot.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Tonight's free association Friday is brought to you by...

Mike's Hard Berry... Cold. Hard. Refreshing... total chick drink... but uh oh.... I'm feeling purple!

"Women Voters" I cannot tell you how tired I am of hearing about the "Women Voters" or the "Womans' Vote". Are there any two women in this country with identical political opinions? Really? Oh man... Charles Gibson just came on again and said something about "Women Voters" and seriously intoned "they are not of one mind." As thought this is a surprise! Even if women have similar priorities, we're obviously going to have different opinions on the best ways to address these priorities, and who the best candidate is to address them. Where are the focus groups for "Men Voters" And as much as I would love to see a woman president... what I really want is a GOOD president, one who can restore some sanity to this country, someone who can unite people and actually make some progress solving some long standing problems, like the pitiful state of health care, the pitiful state of our schools, the nightmare of social security, the sheer insanity of our policies in the middle east.

Anyway I guess this all brings up my current distaste of network news. I don't understand why every story has to be so sensationalized, and I don't understand how they can stand there and tell you scary scary things, and not give us one shred of an idea of what to do about it. Grrr. Ok, I'm going to the bad place now, I'll stop. I might be a little grouchy because my hands still hurt. I haven't knit anything since Sunday. And the book I'm reading at the moment is incredibly depressing.

Hmmm.... time for something cheerful. I bought some yarn I haven't showed off yet.

Check it out ^^ purple. ;) It's very soft... so pretty.... I feel better already. =)