Saturday, December 30, 2006

Just stopping in

Just stopping in to show you this. Just a bag of pecans, nothing extraordinary here. Until you turn it around and see this (sorry for the blurry close up): Does anybody else find that absolutely hilarious? Perhaps it is just me. Carry on about your day.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Dinner is done. Almost.

Ah, the smell of food cooking in the crockpot. Heck, at this point, the smell of food cooking at all is a wonder to behold LOL. It's about 1pm at and dinner is pretty much taken care of. Stew bubbling away. A loaf of bread rising. Salad already chopped and dressing waiting separately in the fridge (thanks to DD, who loves to help in the kitchen). Did all that before 8:00am, actually. Which is a good thing, because my e-mail has been blinging non-stop since then. I decided I HAD to take a break for a pee and a coffee and a blog. In that order. I have been looking over my recipes for some good appetizer like thingies for New Year's Eve. We are going out to dinner (early enough to call it lunch, but I digress) but then coming home for a family fun evening. We will play some games (some old, some new just this Christmas). We will eat nibblies (whatever I come up with). We will write wishes on slips of paper and burn them, then scatter the ashes to the four winds. We will ring in the new year with pots and pans and horns and an electric keyboard (one does what one can). But before we can do all that, I have to buy the ingredients and make the stuff. Sheesh. Who would have known it would be hard? Plus SOMEBODY promised perogies for New Year's Day dinner. It was not me. And I have half a mind to say no and stomp my foot and refuse, and see what the offerer does to get out of it. But then again, perogies are a good excuse to try out my new pasta roller for the Kitchen Aid mixer. Such difficult choices, my friends. The last couple of days have been a doozie for interesting comments. Apparently I am rude, ugrateful, bitter, and angry and need a life. In much coarser terms, of course. I took the liberty in removing them. Which is not like me, because I believe in letting it all hang here, the good the bad and the ugly. Those who don't like me or what I say have just as much right to post their comments as anybody else. But when those comments come in force and under anonymous, well, if you aren't brave enough to at least invent a name for a blog comment, then I think I can do whatever I want with it. And really, "You are a big fat ungrateful bitch" seven times in a row? Well, that is hardly fodder for conversation, is it? After all, it is stating the obvious.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I need a t-shirt

I need to make myself a t-shirt. On the front it will say "Fat girl with bald husband, hyper child, and ugly dog that makes bad tarts". On the back it will say "I am so stupid I could be a teacher". My paternal grandmother is not.....grandmotherly. All my life I have been telling myself that some grandmas are cookies and hugs and loveliness and others....aren't. I happen to have one of each. I didn't see this grandmother much growing up as she and my mother did not get along. Now that she is in her nineties and we are all older (although they STILL don't get along) suddenly she is being invited to all these events, where normally she would not be. And while I always got along fine with her BEFORE, all of a sudden I realize what a mean, nasty, bitter woman she is. She makes the rudest comments about EVERYTHING. While I do believe that some seniors and matriarchs should get some leeway in telling it like it is, there is a line between brutal honestly and sheer ugliness and she crosses it constantly. "Merry Christmas Mimi!" I said as we walked in the door. Her reply was a merry "My god, you are fat!". Minutes later she added that my husband was really going bald in the back, and why was my daughter so HYPER. Seeing as DD had just walked in the door and was hiding behind me (which she usually does after spotting this woman) I am not sure what constituted being hyper, but she asked me over and over again all night. We brought Ruby with us, which illicited cries of "How ugly!" and we got to hear at length how my dog was so hideous it was going to make her throw up or have nightmares. I survived dinner and gift opening by trying to avoid her as much as possible, and doing the mental ear-plug and "la la la" every time she spoke, because frankly she was harshing my Christmas buzz. Then came dessert. My family LOVES butter tarts. Plain, with raisins, with nuts, doesn't matter. Oh, there is some discussion about which is better. There is the raisin camp and the pecan camp, and the plain camp. There are the debates about how many raisins should be in there, should you use whole pecan halves or crumbles, that sort of thing. But they would never turn one down, ever. I brought a huge pan of butter tarts, nut and plain (there is a bag of raisins hiding in this house somewhere - I know I bought them). I used a different recipe, and the filling baked up a little darker than I am used to. But MAN, that is the best butter tart filling I have ever eaten. Considering they represent just about everyting I hate in a dessert (pie dough, sweetness, raisins, that sort of thing LOL) there should be NO WAY I could like them. But hoo-boy these were good. This grandmother also brought butter tarts. I am not sure if her comments were for self preservation or what, but after seeing my "burnt and overbaked" pastries she let loose a diatribe of nastiness that made me want to run from the room, tossing my tarts in the trash as I went. Sure, I laughed it off. But my feelings were hurt. How could a grandmother make such disparaging remarks? My niece picked up on this and made a point to tease me about my tarts, which made it better actually LOL. She said I had bad tarts, I told her she had hooker hair, and we both felt better. She hadn't made it much past the door unscathed either (none of us had). Somehow hearing it from somebody else made it LESS valid, because it sounded as silly as it was. Who cares what SHE thinks anyway? At least now I know why she was never invited for 34 years. Now I just have to wonder why they started inviting her after all this time. Now on to the BACK of the shirt. In DH's family, schooling is a waste of time. You go until legally you don't have to go anymore, and that is that. If it were up to them DH would NOT have finished high school but quit at age 16 to work full time. And if he had listened to them, he would have lost the job he has now. A few years ago they did a sweep to find all those employees without diplomas (many auto companies and suppliers did this) and told them to get their equivalency, or get lost. DH would have been in that number getting lost, because going BACK to school is worse than death and would never have been tolerated. When they found out I was going to University they complained loudly that it was a waste of time. Spending money on educating a FEMALE? That was worse than spending it on an education at all. They doubted I would pass anything, and were genuinely surprised when I graduated. And if there is anything worse, more stupid, than school? It would be those that teach it. Teachers are idiots who make up their own rules to mess you up and keep you down. They are part of "the government" after all. Just part of the conspiracy to grind the little guy into the mud while the rest of them live high on the hog. Somehow the paperboy fits in there as well, but this blog is not long enough to describe EVERY theory they spout. Let's just say we should pass out the foil hats and leave it at that. DH's cousin's son (did you get that?) has been getting in trouble at school for behaviour issues. DH's uncle tells him to do things like give the teacher the finger, swear, and belch words and they wonder why he gets in trouble, but I digress. This started a fierce ranting about how stupid school is, how teachers are such idiots who don't know anything. It was at this point in the conversation when MIL pointed at me and said "Teachers are such idiots these days. Even YOU could be a teacher". Now. To say that it was an insult is an understatement. Yet, in a room full of people not a single one understood how that statement could have been offensive to me. Not my husband, not MIL, not his cousin. "That's not what she meant". So what DID she mean, then? At this point I was accused of being too sensitive and trying to ruin the evening. Folks, the evening had been ruined before we even got there, so it had nothing to do with me. The subject was abruptly changed to discuss New Years Eve dinner plans. I was given a choice of Swiss Chalet or Applebees. I said I would rather stay home and cook myself a nice steak. But seeing as that was not going to happen they could choose between the two themselves. Just tell me where and what time to have DD there. What does it matter anyway? Who eats New Years Eve dinner at 3:30? I might be able to get them to hold out until 4:00pm but it makes them grumble. Plus they want to call the orders in so they are ready when we get there. I am not joking, it takes less than 10 minutes for this dinner from start to finish and they are GONE. They don't sit and talk, they don't savor their meals. I think this year I won't order at all, then have a real dinner later. I might be on to something. And heck, I might even wear my t-shirt!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The calm after the storm

Well, Christmas is done for another year. And frankly, good riddance LOL. It started out fine, but when you have to stretch out the season to accomodate everybody, by the end everybody is frazzled and cranky and it just isn't any fun any more. I have to admit, food wise this year sucked. Doesn't that sound horrible? But it is true. One dinner was roast pork and beef which is usually very good but this time the beef tasted off (as in rancid fat) and the pork was bland and stringy. Christmas Eve the meatpie was too salty to eat and the pizza was undercooked. The perogies were store bought so the dough was way too thick and they were cold in the middle (we won't talk about that yet, I butted heads with my aunt over that one. She kept turning everything down, I kept turning them back up so she unplugged them). Plus somebody bought lactose free sour cream and it was so bad (tasted like plastic) that people were throwing their food away. Christmas day dinner is usually 'okay' because it is turkey and I looooove turkey. It was over so fast that I can't even tell you if the turkey was good. By the time I made DD's plate and ran back and forth to get stuff everybody was done and somebody had cleared my plate. There was no dilly dallying folks, we are talking mere minutes. I couldn't make another plate because the food was "already put away". Then we sat in tense silence for an hour or two more before leaving. Not a happy scene. When you have whacked out families with lots of mental illness, the food is all there is to go on. If that sucks, then the rest is just down the tubes. Although, the veggie tree I made looked kinda purty. As for presents? Everybody seemed to like what we got them. Even the knitted gifts seemed to be really appreciated (for once, usually we get a polite "thank you" and they are tossed aside). We only got one compaint, and it was from a child, but she complained about every present so we weren't too put out. Dh was a bit ticked off that even though we bought them weeks ago and told the parents about it, his cousin still got their child the same movies. We had gift receipts ready, but it was just the idea that they KNEW we were getting those movies and ran out the night before Christmas and got him the same ones. As for the presents we got? We did pretty good. I do wonder about something though. Is it wrong to encourage one of your presents to stalk and possibly kill another one of your presents?

That there would by robo-raptor hunting down my i-cat. It's not that I don't love the i-cat, no-sirree! Quite the contrary. But the live cats have all been hunted and now won't come near it and Ruby hides under my chair when she hears the thing move. She liked it at first (and it really likes her, to the point that it will follow her anywhere when we put it on "roam" mode) and even seemed to want to play with it. Until she was sniffing it's face while it was in "hunting" mood and it sniffed her back, then SNAPPED at her. Nope, didn't like that. So now she hides. My favourite thing is to put it in "playful" mood and have DH or DD pet it (it nuzzles you in playful mood) then make it snap at them BWA-Ha-Ha-HAAAAAAAA! It stalked and attacked the plastic bag behind it for almost 20 minutes and I nearly wet myself I thought it was so funny. I wonder about myself sometimes. If I turn on the i-cat and set it on the floor, and put the raptor in hunting mood and set it to roam, it slowly circles the cat and hunts it. Hilarious!

I also got the pasta roller attachment for my kitchen aid, as seen on Iron Chef America LOL. It comes with a fettucini and spaghetti-linguini cutter as well. No more waiting for DH to roll my dough for me! NOODLES FOR EVERYBODY! Okay, that might be a little overboard ;). Dh opened the 'toch free' (no, that is what the package said LOL) can opener this morning and it broke on the first can he tried. There are no real instructions and the package is so poorly translated that we aren't sure what we are supposed to do. The can lid is completely wedged in the opener and we can't get it off. I dug the package out of the garbage and said we will bring it back to the store, can lid and all. I wish his mother would stop buying that junk from a certain store. The clothes are all irregulars (she once bought DH a shirt there and the pocket was sewn on right through all the layers, pinning together the front and the back). The food is expired or close to expiry. None of the electronics work properly. I loved the idea of the electric can opener, mind you, but she just doesn't learn that the place sells crappola.

Speaking of crappola, we got another gift from her - for the both of us. When I see a big box to the both of us from her, it strikes fear into my heart. Because, my dear readers, her taste is all in her mouth (and even there it isn't that great). She usually buys us BIG UGLY things. That are supposed to be displayed in places of honour like my good living room. But frankly, I just can't do it. I just can't. There was the four foot long covered wagon being drawn by broken mismatched horses that was also a lamp and played "roll out the barrel". There were the white plastic lamps with coloured beads stuck in them. There was the chandelier that looked like a giant bunch of orange grapes. Or how about the tapestry, almost six feet across that had Bo Jangles on it? Boy, that was a good one. Try as hard as I might, I cannot keep from showing the shock and revulsion on my face when I open these things so now I refuse to do it. I make DH open them, and I usually excuse myself to the bathroom while he does it. I don't want to see them, I don't want to be part of them, I don't even want to know we have them. And in that spirit, I bring you, THIS.

It's over a foot tall. It lights up. It moves. I live in Canada. There are just no more words.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Contact sugar high

Come into my house and take a DEEP breath. Ah.....feel the sugar buzz! Baking cookies, candy, chocolates, wonderful aromas scent the air. All it needs is a good pot of coffee brewing and maybe the smell of bacon. Nah, bacon would be overkill LOL. Between working more hours than ever before (BUSY hours. Not sitting and watching status bar hours, but actually busy working, fingers-going-a-mile-a-minute, hard stuff working) and the usual hustle and bustle of Christmas, it is a miracle we got anything done. We have pictures! Chocolate truffles (dark and light). Peppermint patties and peanut brittle, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, ginger crinkles, shortbreads, oatmeal cookies and slice-and-bakes. Gumdrop fruitcake, Christmas bark, and fudge. I think that about covers it. There is a picture of a finished cookie box. Now, if I made up the boxes things would be staggered and mixed around, and there would be no white space showing. However, DH makes up the boxes and prefers straight lights, nice stacks, and lots of white space. We could fight over this. Sometimes though, 'ya just gotta let something go. So here is the shameless and unordered and slipshod montage of pictures. Don't forget to take your metformin before looking, 'cause those blood sugar levels are going to rise!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It is so ME.

I have always wanted an earflap hat. No, seriously. My tastes varied from the highest of heights (a pointed latvian ear flap hat with braids to weight down the flaps and a great big old tassel on the top) to the lowest of lows (an understated muted colour skull cap with a longer cuff that could be folded over the ears). I never did find one I liked, so started plans to knit one for myself. We all know how that goes. First ya gotta find the yarn. Then ya gotta buy the yarn. Then ya gotta find a pattern that will use the weight and yardage you have. Then ya gotta go out and find NEW yarn because the yarn you have is not right and you can't get more of it because it is made by pregnant women and small children in Nepal in small batches and what you have is all there is. Then you gotta find a new pattern because you found some stuff you HAD to have and it won't work right for the pattern, and so on and so forth. Don't say it hasn't happened to you. I don't care WHAT you do...cook, quilt, craft, work with paper or fiber, we have all done these things. To not only find yarn I liked and a pattern I wanted to try, and manage to complete it before Christmas is nothing short of a miracle. A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE. There, I said it. No pointiness, because I wanted it to fit under the hood of my coat if necessary. Alas, no tassel for the same reason. Not into the long braids at the ends of the earflaps because...well....they bother me. Plus I don't want anybody mistaking me for a viking opera diva and expecting me to sing. *Yes, that was a weight joke, for those of you who are slow.* The colours are bright (did we expect anything different?) but oddly enough do NOT clash with my "clown coat of many colours". It fits close to my head but does not squeeze, pull, or give me a headache and best of all, it is stretchy enough to wear over a ponytail without pressing it into my head and giving me a bruise. I give you...THE HAT. Now, this is the pattern I sort of kind of followed, but it is still the pattern because right in there it says to do what you want. This is my kind of pattern, my friends. The only thing I was unclear about was how they said to start the next earflap, but did not mention breaking the yarn. If I wanted two flaps separated, I would have to break the yarn. And in fact, I did. I used four DPN's, but next hat I make I will delve into the "two circulars" or one long circular world and see how it goes. When I finished making the hat I tried it on. Then I answered the phone and talked for a good five minutes. Then I woke the sleeping dog on my lap so I could put her down to go take the picture. She gave me a sleepy look, then JUMPED when she saw the hat. She is so funny. Very suspicious of anything new. She barked at me for a few minutes, and keeps looking at me with suspicion even thought I took the hat off a long time ago. What a nutball.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Are you NEW?

In past years DD's school has done a mitten tree around Christmas. Basically it is a christmas tree that is decorated with mitts and hats donated for needy children. Some adult size pairs find their way there as well. Parents send new pairs of mittens, gloves, hats to be placed in the tree (no scarves. The poor lowly scarf has gone the way of the peanut in schools these days. All but banned because apparently they are a strangulation hazard). Most years I have kept my eyes open on dollar store trips and grabbed pairs of those little stretchy mitts, or more recently polar fleece hats and gloves. This year I had some gloves and mittens that I crocheted and knit to try patterns, but had no recipients in mind, so decided to donate those. They came BACK. With a note. We are sorry, we only accept donations of NEW items. Huh? These are new. Double check to make sure DD didn't drop them in a puddle or something, and nope. So this morning I brought them in myself. And the head of the social committee curtly informed me those gloves could not possibly be new because they had no tags. Seeing as I had already explained that I made them myself, it took me a moment to process what she was saying to me. "Of course they have no tags. They did not come from a store. I made them with my own two hands, out of yarn". I might as well have told her I gave birth to them, and even at that she wanted nothing to do with my tagless mittens! What has the world come to when stretch gloves that cost a dollar (and last maybe a week under use) are given more value than something home-made and hand crafted? When bake sales are restricted to store bought cupcakes and boxed cookies? When kids aren't allowed to bring treats in to the classroom to share with their classmates for a holiday so as not to offend the others that do not celebrate that particular way? It is about more than mitten trees, my friends. I could have argued that my mittens and gloves had just as much place on that tree as anything else but frankly I was worried she would put them up just to make me go away, then take them off and jettison them afterwards. My mittens will eventually come to good use, they always do. As do the countless pairs of slippers that don't seem to fit anybody "today" and the lap blankets I make to see how the pattern looks made up but with no recipient in mind. These items have a way of finding their own home. And I guess that home isn't on the mitten tree!

Monday, December 18, 2006

My family tree is like a fruitcake.

Full of fruits and nuts ROFLMAO. Unlike these little fruitcakes, because although they are full of big hunks of toasted pecans, the nasty fruit bits have been replaced with GUM DROPS! I cannot tell you how good these taste. Real fruitcake never tastes like I imagine it would, with it's colourful green and red cherries, yellow glaceed pinapple, citron bits. Even when made with dried fruit (as opposed to the pretty but disgusting tasting candied 'peel') it just never measures up. Well, gum drop fruitcake is as pretty as can be and tastes like it looks! I was supposed to add a jube-jube leaf to top each one as well, but SOMEBODY (actually two somebodies) mistook them for snack food and ate them all. I should have known better than to put them in a bowl, I should have left them in the bag they came in, shoved in the back of the pantry cabinet. It would have been much safer. The recipe is listed under the recipe links somewhere here. It is a light fruitcake batter (no molasses) but has warm spices in it, and toasting the nuts really does make a difference. So far we have made chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, and oatmeal cookies. The shortbread cookies are mixed but not baked yet. We still have ginger crinkles to go, and a fridge full of slice and bake refrigerator cookies (no, not store bought silly!). The fudge is done - this was some extra, the rest was poured into small pans and covered once they were cool. I have three batches of truffles, peppermints, and peanut brittle to go. Plus nothing is wrapped yet. In the balance of good and evil, however, all the christmas knitting is done. Even the hat! Never mind that I abandoned the pattern after like an inch of ribbing, and then flew by the seat of my pants from there LOL. The pattern itself is wonderful, but the yarn and needles I chose were not. My hands were killing me even though I was knitting flat, and it was taking too long - I shortened the hat by a full 5 centemeters as well (patience patience. Okay I have none). I will knit the pattern again some time, but with better fiber and slidier needles. My brother will still love this hat for sure. My mother's scarf is done. Was it worth all the swearing, the snagging, the blood and the sweat and the tears, the soul sucking-ness 0f the process? Absolutely. It is stunning. I all but ran out on the street to make strangers look at it. I forced the cat to look at it, although she didn't look impressed. What does she know, she sleeps on plastic bags and eats pony tail holders. I showed it to Ruby, and she was duly impressed. It is worth it to have a dog that hangs on your every word and looks into your eyes with love every time you speak. Well, except for when she is ignoring me. Or those times when I call her name and she looks around like she thinks God is talking to her. Other than that. I finished a gift for myself as well. It is the beaded, crocheted rope necklace. I started eons ago and never finished it because working with he beads is fiddly and tangly and I have little patience for fiddly and tangly. Done. I am blind, my hands are no longer working, and my face tics when you mention seed beads, but it is DONE. Not bad for a first try, if I don't say so myself. I think it needs a pendant, and have no ideas at the moment. I might take a look in the craft cupboard and see if I have a wooden bead I can crochet around or something. But frankly, while the process of bead crochet is fine there are two parts that almost kill me. First of all, stringing the beads. That takes forever. And second of all, having to push the beads down as you work. My string tangles, the beads stick, it is horrible horrible horrible. Several times DH asked why I was doing it since I obviously hated it. Don't worry, I gave him a good long glare. Men just don't GET it. Sheesh. Since the Christmas debaucle is winding up and work is absolutely, mind-numbingly busy I will be blogging when I can and as much as I can for the next few days. Please forgive if there are a few holes, but I am hanging by a thread as far as sleep and mood and such go, and if something has to give, it may just be this. Not because it is the least important, no far from that. But I've already given up sleeping, eating, and going to the bathroom. There isn't much else left to stop doing!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Cat in the Flat Hat

I have knitted in the round before. Using DPN's. No problemo. Yet for some reason, this hat is really testing my constitution. And seeing as I have a particularly weak constitution and poor character, this is a grande problemo. Yes, bad spanish is warranted - this is how serious the problem has become! In desperation I am in the process of starting AGAIN, this time converting the pattern to knit flat. So far so good, but then again I just started the first stripe. Nowhere near a decrease yet. I feel a bit faint thinking about trying to decrease backwards on the wrong side rows. This is for my brother. I made the executive decision to use some crappy leftover acrylic, not because that is my opinion of him LOL, but rather I don't want to give him a hat that will take more care than his dog. He needs a hat he can toss in the wash, wear in the rain, wrestle from the dog when she steals it, that sort of thing. And if I don't get off my rump and get some knitting done, he will be getting a brown and green stripey headband. Want to see something weird and freaky? Credric the murderous goldfish sleeps behind the filter uptake tube. He has gotten big, and frankly, it freaks me out when he does this. I am not sure if he is sleeping, hiding, what. But still, gives me the willies. This is the view from in front. Then from the other side. Yucko! He stretches the whole length of that tube, and it's almost 1 1/2 feet long. Now thatsa bigga fishie. I live in fear of finding him dead, he is waaaaay too big to flush. Went back to the store yesterday to get things we couldn't get or forgot the last trip. Now tonight I am going back again to get the supplies needed for our christmas baking. I am starting to feel like I need to start either working or sleeping at the store, to save driving time. The school informed us we CAN give home baked goodies to teachers as gifts as long as they are well wrapped and marked if they contain nuts, peanuts, strawberries, or dairy. So DD's teacher will get a cookie box (mixed cookies, about three dozen plus fudge, peanut brittle, candies, and so on). Her music teacher and early literacy (reading) teacher will get a smaller container of fancier cookies each. The secretary has been a great help to us this year, so she is getting a Starbucks certificate. Don't think I haven't noticed the grande cup sitting on her desk every morning LOL. I already know she doesn't eat sweets so cookies are out for her anyway. Either way, if we don't start the baking soon we won't have time to finish it all. I've done the "three a.m. chocolate dipping while cookies bake and cool" on the last day before Christmas vacation and I don't want to do it again. Off to make ANOTHER shopping list!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas Hooker polish

Know what I bought today? Hooker red nail polish (no, not something to buff a holiday prostitute - they have no need to be shiny). But not just any hooker red nail polish. SPARKLY hooker red nail polish especially for christmas. There is no limit to the festivity, around here. It was right there next to the hairspray - another item I buy exclusively around Christmastime. The same bottle lasts for years and years. Or until the pump gets hopelessly clogged from months of disuse and I throw it away in a fit of pique ten minutes before we have to walk out the door to go to a Christmas party. Christmas parties are events that require hairspray, in case you were wondering. That is usually when I realize I don't have a single pair of hose without runs (including the brand new, right out of the package ones that catch on my hooker sparkle red fingernails and snag before I can even get them over a toe). Maybe I should consider leaving 11 minutes earlier and avoiding these debaucles. Of course, I added all that to distract you from the fact that I buy things in a store that sells nail polish, hairspray, kids nightgowns, and chocolate soymilk all in close proximity of each other. This week-end I bought several pieces that will be mixed and matched for Christmas and New Year outfits. As I pawed through my jewelry box checking on what I have to bling up the items, I came to realize that somewhere along the line all my good stuff has become JUNK. Boy, do I miss the eighties when chunky, gold tone plastic and rhinestones were de rigeur. I have only a few pieces of real jewelry, and they were all gifts. Which means they are proportioned improperly for me. I may like to say I am a delicate flower, but in reality, not so much. Not exactly dainty. I have a DH who sees me for my inner pixie and buys me sparkly things accordingly. Fine chains that disappear on my neck and are 10 inches too short. Tiny tiny pendants that either sit on my neck like a mole or get eaten by my cleavage - assuming I have joined three or four past gifts to make the chain longer. I needed something with more substance for the events we have this year, and I have NOTHING. Seeing as I am too lazy and cheap to go out and look for something better, I will attend holiday events looking unfinished. Perhaps I can sell "unadorned is the new bling" this year. Or not. Good thing I got the nail polish. I am woefully behind on my knitting. Working too many hours each day, and too many appointments. Doctors, dentists, therapists. These take hours out of my workday that I cannot give up, so my work hours infringe on my "social" time. That means the cooking, cleaning, shopping, knitting, and watching tv time. We won't talk about eating or going to the bathroom or sleeping, all items that are being pushed around these days wherever they fit. Or can be squeezed, really really hard. Dh asked when I was going to clean the aquarium and I laughed until I snorted and cried. Yeah, I can't find time to PEE. The aquarium for SURE is at the top of my priority list. *Snort!*. We have presents to wrap, the tree is up and decorated but I haven't finished putting out the rest of the holiday glam yet (and I am beginning to think those bins are just going to disappear back to the basement like I never saw them. Better luck next year!). I have about half the family/business holiday cards to fill out and mail. A handful of presents to pick up. How many days are left? Sigh. I might be able to take a breather some time around March. Let's all take a deep breath and think of happy things, shall we?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dances Interrupted

I was supposed to go into the office today. I got up early. I did my hair and make-up. I was packed and ready to go before DD even got up. We were all ready EARLY. I am sure I don't have to emphasize how much of a miracle that is, but I will anyway ;). Only to find out they weren't ready for me to come. Oh, they still WANTED me to come in. But no way is this chick sitting and installing software for hours or crawling around under desks to connect equipment. Sorry, get all that done before I come in. They aren't all that impressed, but too bad. It is the first day doing the work of my boss (who quit very suddenly and left me hanging, in case you were wondering) and frankly, that is pressure enough without having to deal with training today. So far three backups have failed, one server is offline and we don't know why, and I don't have access to about half the folders I need to take care of all that. In other words, pretty much same old same old ROFL. We got a little shopping done over the week-end. Enough to convince me that many people are obnoxious idiots and complete pigs. What kind of people go through stores, ripping items off shelves and throwing them on the floor, stepping on stuff, and in general making it seem like they are fighting for the last vial of medicine of a sick child - only this is not a third world country and it is not medicine, it's a fricken BOARD game for cripes sake? Dh brought MIL out to finish off her shopping, and they had to sift through clothes on the floor to look for sizes. Shelves were bare in every department and you could tell where the sales had been because those areas looked like a tornado hit. They gave up, it was just too crazy and messy. Last night my sister asked me what we got for my parents. I told her, such and such plus a scarf each. "Is that all? That is like half what we spend". Well, first of all, my dad's scarf alone is 30 dollars worth of yarn. Not to mention the literal hours and hours of work to make the darned things. My mother's scarf has nearly sucked the soul right out of me, that has got to count for SOMETHING. And it goes without mention (well, not really because I am mentioning it now) that she and her DH make about double what Dh and I do. They have been married almost ten years longer than we have, and are at a different stage in their lives. It's not that I am miserly, but where do we draw the line? Presents are not love. Dollars spent on crap once per year do not translate into how much we care for a person. Yes, my gifts technically costed less, but they were chosen with care and planning, specifically for the two of them keeping in mind their taste, preferences, and so on. I am tired of "getting in on" a large purchase for my parents, who don't want nor need most of these items. I firmly believe that when it comes to pricey items that will be displayed, it is best to let people choose their own. I don't want to select a patio set for them. They have their own taste and requirements. I didn't want to get them "something for the house". I wanted to give mom something FOR HER and dad something FOR HIM. Can't manage it every year, but when I can the heartfelt individualized gift always wins in my book.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sleighbells ring, Jack frost, and all that

We have snow! Just a smattering left from an all out snow storm yesterday, but still....snow. I like snow. I like the cold in general. But lately we have this biting wind that I can do without. I have the yarn to make myself an ear flap hat, and really need it now, but with the christmas knitting not done I just can't do it. DD played outside for a full hour after school yesterday, and had a grand old time. A neighbour girl came over and together they used every tupperware container we had to build sculptures (okay, plastic containers. What my father called "Suckerware". Because I am too cheap to buy actual tupperware). Most of them made it back into the house, but there is a suspicious number of margarine tubs and dollar store snap-lid containers missing. What will the neighbours think! Guess I'll worry about that in the spring ;). Of course, living where I do, the snow will melt far before then. We live in a constant freeze-thaw cycle here. If you don't like the weather, wait a minute. It'll change. It isn't unusual to send the kids to school in long underwear and bundled to the ears, and pick them up coatless and dragging all that stuff through the puddles in their wake. With that cold wind though, things aren't thawing yet. Just blowing around and repiling in different places. If it weren't for the work I had to do, I would have been outside with her! Ruby likes the snow too. We end up spending a lot of time outside in the winter, that is as long as the wind isn't too bad for me. DD and Ruby could care less, but it cuts right through me like a knife anymore. DD doesn't like snow down her boots, and Ruby refuses to walk or move if she gets snow between her toes. I guess we all have our limits LOLOLOL. *Interjection - this freeze thaw cycle is the precise reason I would never kill DH and bury him in the yard. He would heave to the surface far too soon for my liking and I would be found out. And fear of getting caught is about as good a reason not to commit a crime as any. Just so you know. Interjection over* Tonight DD and I will be going to PetSmart. I need veggie wafers and shrimp powder for the fish, and there is nothing wrong with schmoozing with pets while we are there. We like to go and woo-woo at other people's dogs. We look at all the fish, and visit the birds. Check on the rodents. Peek at the adoptable cats there. Visit with any pets anybody has brought in. We won't bring Ruby this time. She really doesn't like it there for some reason, maybe it's because she knows they clip nails and bathe dogs there. She likes a bath at HOME, not by strangers. Afterwards I will probably watch the shows I missed when I fell asleep last night (I fell asleep before Survivor even started, and stayed asleep through CSI and ER, until DH came home and woke me up - to tell me to go to bed ROFL). In my defense, I had it set to come on a different channel at 9pm instead of 8pm, so DD was already in bed asleep before I dozed off. And this morning, I slept through two alarms and apparently DH woke me twice - I don't remember any of it. It is taking me forever to type things today, because I am using a new keyboard and not used to it yet. I cannot get the DiNovo to work after the Windows wipe on my machine, and truthfully I wasn't fond of it. The keyboard itself had a nice "feel", but the detached number pad never really worked the way it was supposed to and the mouse was big and heavy - like using a brick. Plus, most of the characters were rubbed off the keys, making it hard to use. The feel of the keys on this new keyboard is taking some getting used to. It is cheap. Very cheap. But I wanted USB keyboard and mouse, optical but didn't care if it was cordless. I've done cordless. Too cheap to go to laser, so why not USB and never have to worry about batteries or charging, right? The keys almost seem like they bump or rub each other, which makes them harder to press sometimes. I got used to the softer touch, and frankly, this one is making my hands tired. The mouse? Well, my last mouse was optical as well, but this one is very sensitive. The incredibly faint wood grain pattern on my desk keeps hanging up the sensor and causing the pointer to act erratically. Right now I have it on a piece of paper, but realistically that will never last. Sometimes I have one inch square of space to use that mouse, and I refuse to start using or carrying a mousepad again. Okay, we all know me. And we all know the slightest irritation and things like keyboards go flying out the window, if not back to where they were purchased. So why the delay? Seeing as I have been programming and swearing for several hours now? Well. It's just. So. GREEN. Tell me this keyboard and mouse don't just scream my name?? But the fact remains, it makes my hands tired and they hurt and I can't work like that. So I will give it ONE MORE DAY. And if I continue to get hung up on the keys, away it goes. Poop. There was another keyboard on sale that DH wanted me to get. It was a good price, of course only for that day and now the sale is over. And he keeps saying "That keyboard was better. It was cordless. It was optical. The keys were nicer". And I keep replying "But was it GREEN?!?! I think NOT". He so does not get it. Don't worry. Some day I will live somplace above the frost line ;).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

How did it go?

So. How did the work trip go? What does this tell you. I spent more hours sitting on airplanes on the ground than I care to count, braved a freak snow storm, got stuck in two traffic jams, spent about two days alternately feeling like crying or throwing up and not being sure which, had my laptop wiped and rebuilt (and it would have been nice to know first so I could save some stuff. Like my fricken wireless software and work email programs, that sort of thing), and ate about one more sandwich than my constitution allows for. Not a complete summary, but pretty close LOL. I was able to learn what was taught to me, but it turns out I wasn't the only one that doubted my intelligence. The person training me kept telling me everything was too complicated to show me. I finally told him "Too complicated? That's okay. I am a complicated person. And kinda smart. Why not let's go over it once and see how it goes". Sheesh! And some of that stuff was quite simple, so I was getting more and more offended by the minute. And frustrated (there is not enough time nor blog space on the internet to discuss that whole debaucle, let's just say it will be a while before I am even ready to talk about it with my DH let alone put together a few paragraphs). I didn't get much knitting done, certainly nothing to show. And I haven't had a chance to install the picture software yet. It took me hours this morning just connecting to the internet. Once again, a little notice would have been nice. You don't erase the entire contents of a person's hard drive while they are in the bathroom. It's just not nice. More tomorrow, I am off to take a scalding hot shower and then go to bed.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Whoooooooo Whooooooo

I decided to make the gifts for DD's "Owls". Owls are the leaders in a Brownie group. The Brown Owl is the main leader, then usually a Tawny Owl. Then after that, it seems like it is an owl free for all LOL. I remember having a brown owl, tawny owl, and snowy owl but it turns out they can call themselves whatever they want. In DD's group there is a Brown Owl, Tawny Owl, Sunshine Owl, Camping Owl, and Music Owl. Music Owl was a problem. I could have sworn she was Rainbow Owl, and that was reflected in her gift. Turns out I am completely insane and Elvis talks to me (Can't make a foil hat - we are out of foil). DD made the executive decision that I did not have to make a new owl, but rather could just add to the one I had. Good thing, because I was out of owl coloured yarn. DH thought I was a little odd and really had no idea what I was doing (and really, I don't think he even still knows the point of these) but does agree that these are about the most adorable owls ever. Top: Tawny Owl, Music Owl. Bottom: Sunshine Owl, Camping Owl, Brown Owl. I adapted a pattern I found for Owl Fridgies on the internet. I won't post a link because there are several that are worded exactly the same and I'm not sure who the original writer is. And frankly, I couldn't follow them for the life of me. If it wasn't for the picture on the page it would have been hopeless. Plus I changed them quite a bit, in my opinion. For those that crochet: Body - 1. Chain four. Join with a slip stitch to form a ring. 2. Chain four (beggining triple), then triple crochet 19 times in the ring. 3. Slip stitch to the top of the beginning chain four. First horn - 1. Chain four (beginning triple). 2. Triple crochet twice space. 3. Chain four, then slip stitch into the base of the chain. You now have half a horn and a bump at the top. 4. Triple crochet twice in the same place as row 2. 5. Chain four, and slip stitch in the same place as rows 2 and 4 (final triple). Second horn - 1. Slip stitch in next triple crochet of body. 2. Chain 4 (beginning triple). 3. Triple crochet twice in the same space. 4. Chain four, then slip stitch into the base of the chain. You how have half a horn and a bump at the top. 5. Triple crochet twice in the same place as row 3. 6. Chain four, and slip stitch in the same place as rows 3 and 5 (final triple). Body edging and tail - 1. Single crochet six times around body. 2. Slip stitch in next stitch, then chain four (beginning triple). 3. Triple crochet in the same space, then chain 1. 4. Triple crochet twice in the next stitch, then chain 1. 5. Triple crochet twice in the next stitch, then chain 1. 6. Triple crochet in the next stitch. Chain four and slip stitch into the same space. 7. Single crochet 6 times around the rest of the body. 8. Slip stitch to the last stitch (where first horn starts). 9. Cut yarn and draw through stitch to finish off. Coloured decorations - 1. Attach second colour and single crochet in each tail stitch. 2. Cut yarn and draw through stitch to finish off. 3. Weave in all ends. 4. Cut six pieces of second colour, and attach to horns to make ear fluffs. 5. Using white yarn, stitch on eyes. Use black to make the pupil. 6. Using orange yarn, stitch on the beak, and stitch toes to hold on a small stick ( I used pieces of bamboo skewer that I coloured with markers). Attach a pin or glue a magnet to the back. I have made some progress on my Dad's scarf and I have to tell you, I love this Soy Wool Stripes stuff. I have hit a few knots but it hasn't been a big deal to cut them out and rejoin, this stuff joins very nicely. It is a little splitty and fuzzy but the lovely sheen and shine and the transition of the colours makes it all worthwhile. It is soft and squishy and lofty, and I love it. This multi-directional scarf is really easy and goes pretty fast. The only thing I might do if I make it again is exchange the SSK that joins the short rows to the previous knitted area for K2TOG. I think my Knit two togethers look neater than my slip slip knits. Or maybe for some texture I might try S1K1PSSO (slip one, knit one, pass slipped stitch over). The only annoying thing here is that with the short rows, there is a lot of turning your work. I realize I am supposed to turn the SCARF and not myself, but for some reason rapid turning of projects that aren't very wide makes me dizzy. I made a doll scarf once that was TWO STITCHES with very chunky yarn. I practically needed dramamine. I won't bore you with another picture until it is done, but I have made some progress on my mother's scarf, only to find a NEW annoyance with it. We are in the middle of a cold snap, and between the bitter wind and jacked up heat in every building my skin gets very dry. This yarn is snaggy. Incredibly snaggy. It could snag on a baby's bottom, I am talking. It keeps snagging and pulling on the dry skin of my fingers (I don't bite my nails but I am a finger biter/picker). Annoying and aggravating. I almost chucked it in again, when somebody walked by and nearly threw herself prone at my feet because they liked the scarf so much. Sigh. LOL! I keep telling myself it will be worth it in the end. Special announcement I will be travelling for the next two days. I will be back quite late on Wednesday. These two days will be very intense (we are talking more intense than when I got my MCSE) so I'm not sure if I will get a chance to blog. And when I do get a chance on Thursday, I might not have much exciting to say, other than to whine about airports and hotels and how sucky the training was ROFL. So be forewarned. And that is all I can blog today, 'cause I gotta go pack!

Friday, December 01, 2006

The deadline thing

I have had deadlines before, and I will have them again. I like deadlines. They give me a clear idea of how much time I have to complete a given task, and by lining up my deadlines I am able to schedule tasks and steps clearly. Open ended projects scare me. They can go on forever and grow and grow and grow like a cartoon snowball, just waiting to roll down a stack of paperwork and flatten 'ya. Or something. One of my deadlines was not yet looming. In fact, the project would not come due until right before Christmas. I was comfortable with that, the stages were going well and I was on track. I had just looked over my schedule and was thinking that I might even have enough time to do some tweaks to make it just that much more special. It is always nice to be able to do EXTRA, and not be so busy with complicated jobs that you just barely squeak across the finish line. Sure, my work is solid and thorough. But I need every minute of that assignment to complete it that way. Any extra time is just gravy. We all know what happens when you look at something and think OUT LOUD that it is going along swimmingly. That is right. The karma gods perk right up, they do. They SCOFF at the thought you might be comfy and doing well. They are professional scoffers, those karma gods. And their work is also solid and thorough, and they are not afraid to work overtime to put you in your place when you seem happy-go-lucky about your progress. They do not enjoy happy-go-lucky at all. This time I did not escape it. My deadline MOVED. That's right. It was MOVED. What I thought I had a month to complete was now due in less than TWO DAYS. Not "try to get it done" or "do what you can" or "we will take whatever is finished". Nope, D. U. E. I am a fast typist. We are talking crazy fast. We are talking insane movements of hand over a keyboard. Spastic to be sure, and I only use like two fingers on my right hand and maybe four on my left. No home row for this chicky-poo. And my WPM measures about 145 when I get going and you factor out any errors. This is typing from my head, mind you. The information flow from mind to fingers is very quick. If I am copying something it is lower because I tend to watch the screen as I type (not my hands) and I get a little turned around if I have to look at a page. Not sure if I am a lefty or a righty, I never know where to put the paper so I can see it and the screen comfortably. And most of the stuff I had to do was brain-to-fingers type stuff plus a little cutting and pasting. Still, I was pretty much as screwed as a person could get. Typing at my top speed and sitting at the computer for 48 complete hours, taking no breaks (not even food or bathroom trips) there was still no way I could finish in time. Never mind the OTHER deadlines I was stepping on during that marathon. If I miss a deadline I don't get credit for ANY of the work done on that project. My pay and bonuses are directly related to credits from deadlines. The pay and bonuses of my department and Supervisor and Manager are also directly related to credits from deadlines of their underlings (that would be me, among others). They are not happy when deadlines are missed, never mind you rarely miss any and sometimes it cannot be helped. And this was a BIG sucker. Year long projects are worth a LOT of credits. Up the "crick" without a paddle, my friends (creek, I know I know, but that voice in my head always says "crick"). This situation was about to break me. There are other unsurities going on at work right now that are making me nervous. And this is not the time of year to add more pressure to me, since Christmas means family gatherings and family gatherings breed anxiety and piling anything on top of that could cause a major crash (or eruption, depending). Then the miracle happened. I stopped caring about the end result and just focused on the work. I figured I would get as far as I could and hand in whatever I could as complete as I could. Sure, some modules and components would be missing but at least I did my best, right? And you know what? I FINISHED IT. And ON TIME, I might add. Miracles do happen. And I thought my family was going to be upset with me because I basically ignored their presence for two solid days. But this morning they let me sleep in, and brought me breakfast in bed. Pancakes. I won't say it out loud. The karma gods might hear.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Lost blog

Seeing as I have written and lost the blog twice today, I think I will bow to the forces of the universe and wait to blog tomorrow. Some days it is best to just go with the karmic flow, ya know?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Fashionably late

It wasn't until I had started eating dinner that I realized - I forgot to blog today! It was such a busy day with appointments, deadlines, school visits, and DH is on afternoons so that always makes a day busier because that guy is high maintenance. Look at this, what is this, where is this, how do I do that. Sheesh. What shall I blog about? Our delicious dinner of boxed mac and cheese and hotdogs hardly seems worthy (nor was it delicious but I am allowed to take some poetic license, aren't I?). Nor does the three appointments I had today. One was therapy but was the same old same old and nothing ever changes so nothing interesting there. Then a dermatologist appointment to check some spots, which I was told are officially "spots" and "seem harmless". Well, it is nice to know they aren't going to suddenly try to kill me in my sleep. After all, isn't that what they mean when they tell us to keep an eye on our moles? What else could we be watching for? The last was to get a quote for "detailing" my car. My car smells funny. If funny really means "like the decomposing flesh of a stink alien", that is. It started not too long ago, and smells like something died in there. I have checked to make sure an errant grocery item didn't roll under the seat or get lost in the trunk. Nothing has been spilled, and I haven't murdered anybody in there.....recently anyhow. Those of you who are tempted to ask the neighbours if they have seen my DH recently are NOT funny and that type of behaviour is not helping anything. I looked under the hood to see if some hapless creature met it's demise in the engine parts, but didn't see anything out of the ordinary. I have high hopes that a good shampoo and a thorough cleaning will either unearth the mystery, or eradicate the smell. One can only hope that I am not trapped in a bad episode of Seinfeld. There were several things for work I had to have completed today, and I got them all done in time (by the skin of my lovely brace-straightened teeth I might add). This was no small feat, because two of them I had completely forgotten about. Have I mentioned I absolutely love electronic scheduling programs? It doesn't even matter which one. The fact that I can type stuff in and have something remind me to do it is just so cool. And I don't even have to pay a secretary! Wouldn't you hate to be my secretary anyway? I wouldn't work for me. Who wants to work for a person that rattles paper at you and shouts "DEADLINE" every time you ask a question. And I bet I don't even buy good "Secretary day" gifts. Then again, you would never catch me having my wife pick something up for your Christmas gift. Mostly because I don't have a wife, and let's just say DH's shopping isn't reliable. We met with DD's teacher to try and deal with some stuff going on, and it was a complete and utter waste of time. Although we did get a chance to see DD break a rule, and act snotty when she was caught. Hoo boy, that did not go over well. As I type this there is a very sullen child sitting next to me, staring at a dark and cold TV set eating a dinner she didn't want. And after that she will have a bath she doesn't want and go to bed early which is NEVER wanted. On a good note, we got her report card and her grades are much improved over last year. I sent DH to PetSmart to get bird supplement. I gave him the empty tube, explained where to find it in the bird section (right across from the cages full of screeching cockatiels) and even gave him money. He came back with bird supplement - for BUDGIES. Frankie is a CANARY. So I sent him back. This time he arrived with the correct bird food, and two packages of dog treats. You all have seen my dog. Does she look emaciated and in need of extra food treats? One can only assume they had a scantily clad, large breasted woman working at the display for these new treats. You want to sell my husband something? Send in a half naked woman with big boobs. He'll buy just about anything. The woman doesn't even have to be especially attractive. I know, doesn't say much for me. But I know the truth, even if it hurts. Then we played twenty questions while he baked a frozen lasagne. There are only four steps on the package. Preheat oven. Remove from box. Bake lasagne for x number of minutes. Remove from oven. One can only assume the next forgotten step involves actually eating the thing, but why complicate things with hypotheticals. How a man can come up with so many questions about such a simple thing I will never know. Remember that paper shaking and deadline shouting? I did a lot of that today. It was not effective. After he left for work I practically needed a nap. Tonight I plan on getting some serious knitting done, so I might have some pics for you tomorrow!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Building character

I am telling you, I had no idea a simple lace scarf could be such a character building experience. Because this darn scarf is still not done and getting even more unpleasant to knit. Especially after working with GOOD yard. I thought that rewarding myself with an enjoyable knit (multidirectional scarf with SWS) in between repeats of this soul sucking tangle of thread, that I could trick myself into finishing it. Sigh. It kind of backfired, because SWS is so nice to work with (yes, it is fuzzy and splitty and has knots but I love love love it). I have about twelve repeats to go, and a whack of garter stitch. I considered abandoning it yet again, but somebody came along and gushed over it, and said it was PERFECT for her and blah blah blah. Knitting this scarf is kind of like shoveling snow and eating brussels sprouts. Nobody really wants to do it but it has to be done, and it's best to just get it overwith as quickly as possible, yet that is so hard to do when faced with a steaming pile of stinky green-gray death on a plate. Just so you know, I have come to terms with the little cabbage thing and actually like them now (cooked properly, of course). And I kind of like shoveling snow because it gives me an excuse to play outside. But for illustration purposes, these two examples are pretty right on. We got a little christmas shopping done. And apparently I look more threatening than I thought. We were looking for a certain game, not sure if the store was sold out or simply never had it in stock. Another woman was looking for the same game, and I quipped "Watch, we'll find ONE and have to fight for it". She said Oh, it's not worth fighting for, I would just give it to you and let out a nervous laugh. So we looked. DH saw her high tail it out of the aisle but thought maybe she just gave up. We finally gave up as well, and on our way out of the store we saw her, and GUESS WHAT WAS IN HER CART. I said "Excuse me!". She turned and looked at me, with absolute terror in her eyes. "Where did you find it? Can I just look at the front so I know what I am looking for?". She kind of held it up, then quickly said she found it lying in another aisle (it isn't the only thing that was lying *cough cough*) and took off, almost running while pushing the cart. DH was busting up laughing, and wouldn't tell me why until we got to the car. "Don't you realize? You basically threatened her. She was scared to death. I thought she grabbed something fast off the shelf, she must have found the last one". So there you have it. There is a woman out there scared to death of me, and will probably relive the trauma every time her child plays that game. For the rest of the day DH teased me that I am mean looking and people are afraid of me. I kept saying, in a perplexed voice "How can you be scared of somebody in a technicolour knitted coat for goodness sake? I look more feeble minded than dangerous". Last night while watching tv, we both went for the last cracker. And he pretended to be all scared and offered it to me, saying "Please don't hurt me, lady! You can have the cracker!". Then he quickly shoved it in his mouth and ran like hell. Apparently he still thinks it is all very funny. Then, we went to a discount store to return a pair of slippers DD got for her birthday from DH's aunt. They were way too small, and while DD doesn't wear slippers we just wanted to exchange them for a bigger pair. I did not ask his aunt for the reciept, the name of the store was right there on the packaging. I figured since I was just exchanging there wasn't any big deal. I figured wrong. You see, it never occured to me to put them in a bag. I don't have a bag from their store, after all. So we just carried them in, right to the customer service counter. She had us pegged for shoplifters the minute we walked in. I got a lecture about returning items. Always in a bag (any bag) and always with a receipt. I told her I just wanted a bigger pair, not a refund. She grudgingly said to go look for a larger pair. Well, they didn't have any larger in that style, so we found another pair that cost slightly more, in her size and in a better colour. When we went back, she was gone and had the slippers behind the counter in a box for restocking, but not as a return. In other words, she thought we were trying to scam the store out of a three dollar pair of slippers. I was not especially impressed. The next 20 minutes or so were quite unpleasant, but eventually resulted in speaking with the manager and getting the second pair of slippers and just paying the difference (which is what we intended, wasn't it?). And the manager announced, quite loudly, at the end of the transaction "Since you didn't have a receipt, I can't give you one now" and RIPPED IT UP! Dh saw the look on my face and took off, knowing there was going to be something ugly going on in a moment. He would not have been disappointed, had he stayed to observe. You see, I personally don't shop at this store because it's location is not convenient to me, and frankly the place is a disorganized mess and most of the items are irregular, expired (or close to expiration) or damaged. But an organization I know DOES use this store. On a quarterly basis they spend a large sum of money on kids clothes, boots, toys, and other items to donate to local charities. And guess who is on the committee that decides WHERE they spend that lump sum of money to buy the goods? And guess which store was already hanging by a thread because their wares are getting worse and worse, and let's face it - donating cheap junk is not the most noble of ventures, is it? We were already debating a change in supplier, and this little transaction tipped the scales in another direction. In my humble opinion, they would have been better to simply deny the exchange/return (citing they have a high instance of fraud), rather than treat us like criminals and embarass us publicly. After all, there are cameras every two feet. If they really wanted to know if we took the slippers off the shelf and were trying to pull something over on them, there were other ways to deal with it. As for myself, I can reliably say I will NEVER EVER be back in there again. And just in case the manager sees this - if I were going to pull a switcharoo to get the return money, I would have taken something that costs more than three dollars, you asshole. There. I said it.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Do I know you?

Why do people and animals keep giving me that look? I am sitting here working away at an impossible deadline, and Ruby strolls right across the coffee table. Pardon me? When did we decide it was okay to treat the coffee table as a fashion runway? GIT DOWN! And for my troubles, I get a look. That "have we met?" look. Sometimes when I call her name, she looks around all suspiciously like she thinks God is talking to her, because obviously she has no clue that just because the sound is coming from MY mouth that it must be me that is talking. DD gives me the same exact clueless look sometimes and boy, does that push my buttons. Don't look at me like that, I asked you how you got covered in paint and why is the cat so sparkly. Seeing as your hands are glittery, I am pretty sure you know something about it. We have met. I am your mother. And somebody is in TROUBLE. Dh gives me the look as well, usually when I bring up a subject that I have told him a thousand times about and he was just not listening, then all surprised to hear about it. Last night is a prime example. DD was not feeling well and came home from school. Her sinuses are giving her trouble and were dripping into her throat, causing a sore throat and an upset tummy. After some soup, a rest, and some good medication she was none the worse for wear and we decided she could attend her Brownie Entrollment ceremony. As I was getting changed, Dh started talking about what he was going to do while DD was at Brownies, and was a bit confused about why I was changing my shirt, after all I don't need to take my coat off. "Hon, you do know we are supposed to stay, right?". There goes that look again. He said nobody told him there was anything special tonight (we discussed it all through dinner, but granted the tv was on so I should have known the only person listening to me was myself). Not to mention he was the one that got the invitation paper from Brown Owl last week, and she explained everything at that time. I heard it from a few feet away as I helped DD with her coat. I am going to make DH a shirt that says "Don't talk to me. I will smile and nod but I am not really listening. If it is important, please tell my WIFE". Then I can sell them on the internet, and I think I would be rich. This morning, I walked into the kitchen to find both cats up on the table, staring down at the floor in a horrified manner. They were watching a baby centipede frantically running in circles, trapped by DD's hairband. Now, I am not sure how that little scene originally unfolded, but it illustrates and important thing about the cats in this house. They are terrified of centipedes. They will WATCH them, from a distance, with terror in their eyes. But touch one? No freakin' way. They were in quite a state, jumpy, scared to death. The word "skittish" in the dictionary would probably have a picture of them, on that table. Imagine the nerve of me, walking into the kitchen all sudden like. They didn't run like their lives depended on it (their usual modus opperendi), or jump straight into the air and puff up (my personal favourite). They turned and looked at me, frozen stone still, eyes wide open in abject terror at the sight of me. Look, I know I am no picnic in the morning. But I ain't THAT ugly. As far as they were concerned though, I was Medusa. Two stone statues staring at me as if to say "WHO ARE YOU?". A stranger in my own land, indeed.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Yarn Porn

I never had an actual "yarn stash". What I had was a collection of leftovers. Unused balls bought for a certain project and not needed, yarn purchased to make a certain thing but then the thing was not made for one reason or the other. Yarn that did not behave the way I wanted and replaced with something different and not returned. I didn't have anything in there that I bought because I WANTED it before actually knowing what I will do with it. That, my friends, has all changed. I discovered an LYS. What does LYS mean? Local Yarn Store. I am not talking about Michaels (which to their credit does carry a good, although limited selection but lately their eyelash yarn collection is growing while their actual wool selection has been shrinking, and they don't carry the needles they used to). Nor Zellers (again, a good cross section but mostly acrylic and novelty yarns). And not Walmart (needles up the whazoo, but rarely any actual wool). Now don't get me wrong, I love acrylic yarn because it is bright, the colour is usually long lasting, the yarn itself is long wearing, and if the object gets tossed in the washing machine by mistake it isn't coming out a barbie sweater. But for some special projects I wanted something.....special. Something with silk, or cashmere, something fancy and handpainted maybe. Mail order works great and the delivery is usually fast (thank you KnitPiks!). And Ebay is an unending resource for double pointed needles, turbos, what have you (I love that 'buy-it-now' option). But sometimes you want to touch, to feel, to caress. We have two "real" yarn stores in our city, both within steps of each other on the same street. The one that is easier to get to was never open when I was there. To be fair and honest, it wasn't that they were never open but rather I not only don't read, I don't retain even if I do so I went back twice when I should have known they were not open. Their hours of operation are clearly marked on the sign on the door. And I finally made it!!!!! My doctor's appointment went quicker than planned, and I was in the area. And I was NOT disappointed. They had brands and names and colourways I could only read about. And I did not escape empty handed. The Jazz Print is going to become an earflap hat for myself. Yes, that's right. The brightest, most colourful earflap hat ever invented. With my coat of many colours it should fit right in. No sirree bob am I ever getting lost in the snow. They'll see my body for miles around, like a friggin beacon baby. My biggest fear is that I will confuse migratory birds flying above, but we all have to take risks in life, right? The soft pink Lang Silkdream - and it does feel like a silk dream, by the way. When I win the lottery I am knitting myself pj's out of this stuff - well. Remember that lace scarf for my mother? I may replace that monstrosity with an adjusted pattern and use this instead. I like the leaves, but the garter stitch middle section is too blocky. The entire scarf ended up too wide. I originally wanted a skinner, longer version and abandoned the idea of ripping back because the yarn I was using was a bastard to work with. I was loathe to destroy what I had already killed myself to finish. I am going to try to finish the original scarf tonight. If I struggle to get through the repeats, consider it abandoned. It won't go to waste, of course. The half that is already bound off would make a nice shawl for DD's "my size" doll. If I don't decide to replace it with something else and actually finish it, then this goes into the stash for something else. I have a niece that is partial to such pale colours. Maybe a scarf, or perhaps gloves. We shall see. Those two balls of cool blue sea and sky? Watercolours indeed! I wish you could feel it and see it in person. It is so much lovelier than it looks in that sorry excuse for a picture. It is destined to become a lighter-than-air, seafoam and ocean spray, summer evening scented with coconut skin oil and beach sand, triangular shawl. Not sure when I can start it, but I had dreams of the beach last night, so it might be sooner than Christmas knitting should allow. For now I am trying to forget I even SAW that yarn store.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What is that dazzling white light?!?!

Why, that would be my teeth, darling. Because we had our dentist appointments last night. And our teeth are all clean and shiney and bright. And sore, but what can one do. DD did exceptionally well. You could tell she didn't like much of what was going on, but she stayed quite still and opened her mouth wide when asked, and followed all the instructions. Then it was my turn. And let me say it is hard to keep a straight face while getting your teeth cleaned when your 7 year old daughter is looking in your mouth. And giving directions to the hygienist! "There is a spot there you missed. Don't forget under that bar thingy. Why does mommy have so many TEETH". I think she would have had her hands in there if the lady had let her. I thought she would be scared, considering I am a bleeder. But nope, she took it all in stride. I could have done without her telling the woman I never brush my teeth, however. Sheesh. You see, I have a bit of a germ phobia (shut up, not everybody with germ phobias have clean houses. Some of us just live in horror, that's all). But only about certain things. This is how I can deal with two inches of dust on the piano, but any dishes that make it into the bathroom are boiled in bleach or thrown away. I am not into leaving my toothbrush out on the bathroom counter for several reasons, not the least of which I used to have a toothbrush munching cat, and a commercial I saw once that effectively demonstrated toilet water dousing the entire bathroom in a fine mist of human waste. That commercial right there spurred a good ole bleach-o-rama at this house. It also induced a serious toothbrush cull. Keeping my toothbrush in a container in the drawer seemed a far better protective option. Until I had a child. Because children are notorious for disrespecting personal space issues and think nothing of using another person's toothbrush. And not always for tooth brushing, either. Nope, that called for drastic measures. So I keep my toothbrush under lock and key. Nobody needs to know where it is located, and I like it that way. Every morning and every night I retrieve said instrument from it's secret locked location, use it for it's intended purpose, and return it to it's safe hold. This greatly reduces the need to whip my toothbrush out the front door and buy a new one, a scene that took place a couple of times a month before that. I say reduce and not remove, because there are risks associated with the travelling I do that sometimes require strong measures. Like the time the airport security agent removed my electric toothbrush from my make-up bag HOLDING IT BY THE BRISTLE END and asked me to turn it on. I did so, to prove it was not some sort of weapon but was in fact an electric toothbrush. Then I deftly removed the batteries (expensive rechargeables) and tossed the rest of the unit into the trash can next to us. Good thing it was a cheap colgate spin brush and not a hundred dollar sonic-care model. I got the oddest look from the agent, but hey. He is wearing gloves to protect himself, and then touched the business end of my toothbrush with that gloved hand. That glove has been on peoples bodies and pawed through their clothes and undergarments and touched the filth ridden outsides of suitcases. Even without the glove factor, that toothbrush was toast as soon as he opened the make-up bag. When I got to my destination I asked at the front desk for a toothbrush, as directed by the little sign in my room. Forgot something? Ask at the desk! The desk clerk cheerfully retrieved an unwrapped brush from a basket under the counter and attempted to hand it to me. Do I have to say how she was holding it? Not that it matters. No way no how was I taking THAT biohazard. "Gee, I just remembered that I didn't forget it after all". I then paid for a cab to bring me to the closest establishment that sold toiletries, wait for me, and bring me back again (okay, plus we sat for several minutes with the meter running as I tried to translate toiletries into a language I had never heard of because that driver clearly had no idea what I wanted). That 99 cent oral-b cost me roughly 30 dollars, I reckon - not including the $8.00 for the electric one I tossed. Now when I go on trips I make sure to pack extra NEW manual toothbrushes - in their original packaging. Just in case. All of that was the pre-amble, by the way. In case you forgot the point, it had to do with DD telling the hygienist I never brush my teeth. DH likes to tease DD and tell her stories. And one of those is that I never brush my teeth, and as proof, he points out "You don't see her toothbrush, do you? She doesn't have one". I always thought she KNEW it was a joke, but it seems maybe she is starting to believe otherwise. I could take the safe route and show her my brush, but what if she touches it? No. Too high of a risk. I just bought a new battery powered one and I really like it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The end is near

I have one edge of the wrap completed and attached, and I am telling you it is getting harder and harder to come to terms with giving this thing up. I love everything about it. The colour, the pattern, the edging. Sigh. I would like to say I could make another one, but we all know THAT won't happen. The nice ridge there is created by crocheting through the wrap and the edging, pulling up a loop and finishing in a slip stitch. Much nicer than just grafting or sewing it on with an invisible seam (which are never invisible, by the way). Once I finish the other side, I will block it and post it again, because it is sure to be even lovelier than the lushious thing it is now. Isn't it nice that I can like my own work LOLOL? Went to that fancy schmancy gourmet market again today. It is my reward for going to my therapy appointments, you know. A little treat. And what did I buy today, for my little treat? Lunchmeat. That is right. Lunchmeat for DD and DH. No fancy veggies, no imported cheeses or artisan bread. Lunchmeat. Perhaps I need to get my priorities checked or something. Today is turning out to be one of those days when you have a thousand appointments and tasks to complete. No pressure or anything, just a lot to do. This morning I have already been to therapy, to the Dietitian (whom I hate with every fiber of my being because she is arrogant, rude, and has no clue about type 2 diabetes), and had an interview with a charity I would like to volunteer for. I didn't sense that I wowed them there, either. It's funny. I remember a time when it was EASY to volunteer. Lately it seems like it's harder than getting a paid job. But that is neither here nor there. This afternoon I have two work deadlines (still waiting for the data, of course) and after dinner DD and I have dentist appointments. And it is fund raising night for DD's school at a local kids type restaurant. We won't be eating there but will go for activities later if all goes well at the dentist. Tomorrow, Dr's appointment to discuss my blood sugar again. We upped the meds, we changed my diet again, we changed all the rules one more time and STILL that pesky A1c number is crappy. When my home testing numbers are good, that test is crappy. When my home testing numbers are bad, that test is crappy. I am beginning to think that no matter what I do it is going to be crappy, my organs are going to fail, I will go blind, and my limbs will drop off. If it is all inevitable, then I just want them to leave me the hell alone to live my life the way I want to.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Rollin'-rollin'-rollin', get that knittin' rollin'!

I have made SOME progress on the Christmas knitting. And because that is a huge feat in itself, you get pictures today. Pictures of the same knitting you have been looking at for months, but hush. It's better than another picture of the purple toe (which is still strangley purple in one streak underneath). The poncho turned wrap? The middle is COMPLETED. Woo hoo! I just started the edging. I was going to knit it on, and started it last night. Completed an entire 18 row repeat before I realized I had the wrong edge attached to the wrap. I, ladies and gents, am an idiot. Just in case you didn't know. And what confirms it is that I ripped back, started again, and managed to DO IT AGAIN. That is right, I went ahead and knitted the wrong end onto the wrap for the second time. What the hell is my problem????? I finally decided that knitting something sideways into something already completed in a perpandicular fashion is just too much for my pea brain to handle, so I will do the edging separate and attach later. I wasn't sure how rows meet columns so to speak in knitting (can you tell I work with spreadsheets LOL?) and thought it would be a one-to-one relationship. So an 18 stitch repeat would take up 18 stitches of the wrap. However, it looks like it will be closer to two rows of repeat per stitch of the wrap. Since my stitches worked out anyway (bless the karma gods for this happy event), it's just a matter of adding twice as many repeats as I counted on for each side. No big deal, it knits up fast. So far. And it turns out it is a GOOD thing I didn't make the whole poncho after all, because I would have run out of yarn. Isn't it just delicious? I swear I could eat it. I love it so much. The intended recipient might have to tear it from my grasp, I may not want to let it go! The oatmeal scarf is almost done, just a few rows to go of pattern and then a few rows of garter to finish it off. I will add a simple crocheted edging just to the ends to finish it off, but no fringe or anything like that.

I have a whole ball of wool leftover, so he might be getting a hat as well. I figure a few inches of the same ribbing (k3, p3) , a band of the moss and welt pattern (checkerboard), and the rest of the crown in the moss stitch. Not sure how I will work the decreases without messing up the moss stitch, though. Might have to do a small test for that and to figure out the repeats of the pattern to get the right size. I have discovered that with knitting there is much more leeway in hat size, especially if you use ribbing on the band. With crochet, the fabric is less stretchy and it is easier to end up with a head-squeezing torture device or something you could swing a cat in. Not that I advocate swinging cats in anything, mind you. It should have been done by now, but I find the wool a bit hard on my hands, seeing as I am using smaller needles than recommended - to get that tight windproof fabric. Not as bad as say, working with cotton, but my hands get tired. For my father, I had decided on a cashmere scarf. Something so understated and simple in pattern and colour that it belied it's luxury. However, finding cashmere locally is proving to be difficult. Sure, I could buy it online but I wanted to molest it first. Finally I broke down and decided the sheen of Patons Soy-Wool-Stripes would do him justice. I plan on making a multidirectional diagonal scarf, a pattern I found on the internet (I will post a source if I actually use that pattern when I post the scarf pic). I bought the Natural Navy colourway, that has blacks and greys and blues. I wanted something a little more in the beige tones, but my DH reminded me that I was thinking "professional dad" - what he wears and what he looks like when he is working. He is completely retired now, and more likely to wear jeans and a casual sweater than a dress shirt and tan car-coat. Plus this colourway will look great with the leather and suede coats he wears. DH is good for something sometimes LOLOL. There is a colourway with greens and pinks and creams that I lust for, but haven't decided what to make with. Working this scarf will give me an idea of how it works up, maybe pointing me in a good direction in finding something to make for myself.

My mother's scarf still languishes. As does the lonely pattern for japanese style socks (the kind you can wear with flip flops). I have more than enough sock yarn, it's just a matter of getting my butt in gear. As for my own socks? Well. I am in no hurry. I don't even really wear socks LOLOL. The alien thing, an assortment of mittens and gloves (thank heavens for small hands!). Seeing as I already have more than I can do before Santa comes, I did the only logical thing and added a few more things to my list. I want to make a few felted coffee cozies for some Tim Horton's zealots we know. That along with a gift card for Timmy's would make a nice gift for DD's teacher as well. I wonder if I could knit a timbit cozy with scraps..........nah. That would be silly.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Rules of life

Rules of life. Not to be confused with inevitable laws of the universe, which are unchanging and...well...inevitable. Rules of life are things you learn as you go about your daily lives. Some are quick and easy, others take more time. But rest assured, there are many many more rules than we have time in our short lives to learn. In the interest of trying to help you pack as much learning as possible into your life, I will point a few out. Maybe I can save you some time to use for other things. Or not. The quick and easy are of the same ilk. It only takes one experience to figure them out and they are easily remembered. Things like not brushing your teeth then drinking a glass of orange juice. Or drinking orange juice with a brownie or slice of cake. One "BLEAH!" is about all it takes there. Some may take a little longer to learn simply because one must reach a stage of life before they can be experienced, but once you get there the lesson sticks hard and fast after the first event. Like don't feed the baby then shake her up, and expect to escape with a clean shirt. Or don't feed the dog pitted prunes even if she begs for them. In those cases, you have to wait until you are a parent, or have a dog. A cat person with no access to canines may NEVER learn the prune rule, but that is okay because they get to learn the "it is best to wear slippers in the dark to avoid stepping in a warm hairball with bare feet" rule. It sort of evens out. Nevertheless, you wouldn't hold that shaken baby up over your head even one more time, and would never again ask the dog to "sit pretty" for a pitted prune. Some take a while to learn, not because we have to develop enough to reach a stage, but rather because humans are stupid creatures and aren't always reliable when matching a cause with an effect. Like no matter how many celery sticks you eat, it is the chocolate cake that attaches itself to your rear for the world to see. But we keep on with the celery during the day, and sneak in that cake at night when nobody is looking. There is a reason Sara Lee is on the stock exchange, and it ain't because she makes celery! It is the same reason Weight Watchers makes millions. One of my favourites, is if you have a chance to put gas in your tank, do it. Because guaranteed the night you decide to "get gas tomorrow" you are going to be running late and in dire danger of running out of gas on the way to that important appointment with the specialist you have been waiting months for. Or you will have to pump it yourself in the wee hours of the morning, in whipping rain while wearing business clothes. You know, a black pencil skirt and a thin white blouse. It takes making a few presentations looking like the love-union between a drowned rat and the loser of a wet t-shirt contest before learning that one. And still, I have been known to pass by a perfectly convenient gas pump to "get gas tomorrow". There are apartment rules - that "friendly" neighbour will soon become TOO friendly and spend more time at your place than theirs. Home owner rules - 10 year shingles sound like a good deal, that is, until you have been living in the house for 10 years and still have a mortage and now you need to replace the roof. Usually this happens days after finally paying off the appliances you bought when you bought the house. Light carpet is not your friend, ever. I don't care what they are showing in the design magazines. Dark carpet is not your friend, ever. I don't care what they are showing in the design magazines. Hardwood and ceramic are only "easy to clean" if you have OCD or a maid. Car rules - if you wash it, it will rain. If you have it detailed, kids or animals will become carsick on the upholstery and passengers will grind cheesies into the floor mats. If you have the chance, fill the tank (see above). Office rules - if you dress too nice your boss thinks you are overpaid. If you dress too shabby you will be passed over for promotions because you don't seem motivated. The promotion and the raise always go to the person you think least deserves it. The more incompetent the new employee, the better the chances you will be reporting to that person within weeks. If you get something new, write your name all over it and chain it to your desk or it will disappear. Writing your name all over office supplies and chaining them to your desk makes people whisper about you, even if they are doing it while holding a pen with your name around the barrel and a length of cut chain attached to the end. Grabbing said pen out of their hand with an "ah-HA!" and accusatory finger gesture will not help your case, and will spur stuff-stealing pranks for weeks and weeks and weeks. You'll be lucky if your desk doesn't disappear. Marriage rules - DH's are more likely to surprise you with tickets for crap you don't want to see, than events you are interested in. He comes bounding in, holding passes high in the air and exclaims "Guess where we are going?!?!?" - it is never the symphony or a presentation of "The Vagina Monologues" by the local feminist theater. No, it is more likely to be a sporting event. Or in my case, Iron Maiden tickets. There is an unwritten yet known rule that states whoever notices a smell/mess/problem first must fix it. So no, your husband is not blind, deaf, nor hard of smelling. He DID see that spill, smell that diaper, and hear that crash. But if they acknowledge those things, they have to take care of those things so it is best to feign surprise when that dog poop they have stepped over eight times is pointed out to their attention. This rule eventually applies to kids as well, by the way. Grocery shopping rules. You will most likely forget the thing you originally came for, and leave with 10 things you will probably never use. I can go to the store for milk, eggs, and bread and come home with truffle oil, fancy olives, several magazines, tofu nuggets, spring salad mix, oranges, and organic yogurt. I normally remember the milk, eggs, and bread when I get home, most likely after the grocery store is closed. So then we run to the variety store, where we pay four times as much for stuff we don't normally buy - like whole milk instead of skim, small eggs instead of large, and squishy white bread because that is all they have and we are in no position to be picky when there are lunches to be made and it is almost midnight. The cereal the kids beg for the entire shopping trip is rejected outright once it hits the bowl and said child realizes no cartoon character is going to pop out of the box. Usually this cereal costs more than your car so you can't just throw it out, and end up eating it yourself. Meetings don't go well when you are wearing a wet, see-through white blouse and are stuffed full of day-glo marhsmallows and whole milk. Wait, that was an office rule. So many rules, so many categories, so many ways to learn. The person who decides the child can have two glasses of chocolate milk, a cookie, ice cream, and brownies right before bed is never the person who spends most of the night sitting next to the child's bed, rubbing their tummyache so they can sleep. Always keep 2 pairs of shoes so you always have a dry pair. Putting on cold wet shoes is just gross and should be avoided at all costs. Always check your boots for hairballs, dog treats, bugs, and other stuff before putting them on if you have kids and/or animals in the house. Being a parent means you at any given time will have a plastic dinosaur, crayons, a half eaten sucker, underwear, or "pretty" gravel in your purse or pocket. Being a parent means you at any given time will have a half chewed cracker, drool, snot, vomit, poop, or pee in your hand or on your clothes. This part also applies to having pets. No matter how long a blog entry can be, it can never be long enough to list ALL the rules. So tell me. What rules do YOU have to share?