Thursday, May 31, 2007

Of shoes and ... shoes

They might as well change their mottoes to "Service so good, it's painful." I felt a pang at work this morning when I checked the tracking of my two packages (one from Zappos, one from Endless) and saw that they had been delivered already, and were home, waiting for me to bring my feet to try the new shoes on. So I had work all over my desk to do ... what's more important? Is it 5 yet? No?

But seriously, isn't that amazing? I placed orders yesterday and by 9:30, shoes were on my doorstep, no extra charge. It makes other companies look pretty shabby, with their escalating shipping charges and 3-5 days to deliver if you're lucky.

And how were the shoes, you ask? Well, let's see. Four pairs of similar loafer-style shoes, and one of them actually fits! Isn't that nice? Not only that, but it was the least expensive pair! I would have bet heavily against that happening.

Of the three pair I ordered from Zappos, two were the same brand, Prop├ęt, and of course the same size, 9.5W. Thus it makes perfect sense, right, that one pair was too large:


and the other too small:


I will think twice before ordering that brand again! That's just weird. How Goldilocks.

The third pair was a brand called rsvp, and far from being just right, look how much too long they were:


The one nice thing, though, about all three pair is that none of them were too narrow. For a person with a wide foot (actually, two), that's saying something. Being able to order so many wide shoes was really nice.

The Zappos summary is nice try, zero for three, print out return label, and send them all back. I would certainly order from them again, though, it really was a good experience. However, this time the pair from Endless.com is the winner:

They fit, they're comfortable, end of story. Sometime I will head out to western Mass (well, west of where I am) and try that store in Gardner, Dow's, that Leslie recommended, but since I don't have time to drive even an hour each way right now, this was a really cool work-around for my shoe problem.

The reason I don't have time in the foreseeable future for such a jaunt is an influx of visits. I have house guests coming a week from today, which I'm not quite ready for (such a surprise, me not ready), and then after that my parents are in town for a long weekend (yay!), and since it's the first time they're seeing the condo, I want it to be at its best, or at least not at its most dusty and furry and so on, so you see what I mean? Even with all I got done over the weekend, the to-do list is still not appreciably smaller.

It's actually good for me to have people come over periodically, quite apart from the social aspect, because otherwise the housekeeping tends to slide a little when there are books to be read and cats to be lapped. I need outside motivation to make me look around and realize that when I refer to my home as Chez Cat Hair, it would be nice if that wasn't quite so literal.

Now, as your reward for making it to the end, here are some flowers:

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Who's in charge here?

Have you ever seen this on a shirt or bumper sticker?
Cats don't have owners, they have staff.
As I was getting ready for work this morning, I was looking at Pan, snuggled on the bed, in the sun, clearly at about a 9.5 on the comfort scale.

I on the other hand was tired, and achy still from gardening, had cramps, had spent ten minutes cleaning up cat vomit, had a tickle in my throat from all the pollen in the air (I wait all winter for this weather and then it does this to me), and I was after all getting ready to go to work. I like my job, but it is a job: there's a reason they have to pay me to go.

He likes to complain when things don't follow his wishes 100%, like when I was late getting home last night, but he leads a very nice life overall, and there are times when I'd switch places with him (all I have to do is think "litter box" and "bathe with my tongue" and the feeling passes, but I bet you know what I mean).

Plus, I wish I could purr when I was really happy.

I hope I'll be purring tomorrow. I've ordered some new shoes, and maybe one pair will fit. I ordered some from Zappos and some from Endless.com, which a couple of Laurie's commenters recommended as comparable. I like the search features of both sites, how you search by size, width, heel height, price ranges, all these factors and probably more but that's what I cared about. And, very cool, free overnight shipping, and free return shipping if I don't like them or they don't fit. Endless even has a $5 "rebate" on shipping, so the $40 shoes cost me $35 (the least expensive shoes, so you know they won't fit, right?). I'll report on them when they all arrive.

Meanwhile, back in cat-land, I have a gray tabby draped over my right forearm. It's an interesting way to type...

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Working on the rainbow, in the garden

Saturday night, I got out my thread to pick colors for the Mother's Day Project. I have a lot to choose from, left over from many projects over many years of cross-stitching:

As you might imagine, it took me some time to pick eleven colors, for the eleven letters in Jaime Jaenke's name (by the way, Anne and I conferred and agreed that is the correct spelling, not 'Jamie' as in the original square, and she sent me a new square). I want to have a rainbow of color, as I wrote about in my first post about this project. Here's the lineup I chose:


I did think about getting started then, but it was late and I decided I wanted to work on it with a clear head, and possibly better light. I'd like to do this right, basically.

I got half of it done last night, then worked on it more today before admitting to myself that I didn't like the way it was coming out. I was using too many threads, so the lines are thicker and hard to read, almost as if it's blurry. I think I'm going to start over, but for now I put it aside to look at again before I decide for sure. Sigh.

I love a three-day weekend, especially when I have a long list of things to do, and for once I really kicked my to-do list. I didn't get to everything, but then I also did a few things that weren't on the list, so overall I'm quite pleased. And it would have been a little unnatural to get to everything, wouldn't it?

One thing I wanted to do, and tried to, was find new shoes for work. I went to three stores on Saturday, but still struck out. The closest I came was one style that I would have bought if they had my size. They had 9W, and 9 1/2 medium, but no 9 1/2 wide. The 9w seemed almost long enough, but I just wasn't sure, and you know, for $80, I'm just not even going to try. Makes me sound cheap, but there you are. That's a lot of money for shoes that might not fit. I'll have to think about where else to go, because I've been theorizing that my shoes being older and less supportive might be why my foot has been bothering me. The pain has lessened, but not completely gone away, which is tiresome. I don't want to mail-order shoes; considering how hard it is to find comfortable ones, the shipping costs and time back and forth really add up, but I'll run out of shoe stores soon. It's a dilemma.

I have some sore spots tonight, and will have more in the morning I'm sure, because I went up to work today and planted my little garden patch. It's so cute! I planted cucumbers:


and more cucumbers:


(There were two types of pickling cukes, one like I grew last year and one different, so I thought I'd compare them; I really like cukes, and I'm curious.)

Green peppers, I did them last year too, with slight success, perhaps this year I will be slightly more patient about not picking them before their time:


Peas! I hear they're a little harder to grow, but boy, I love'em, I have to try:


And basil. There were a bunch of different types, I had no idea. I basically picked one at random. It smelled right, how bad can it be? (If you know, don't tell me, I don't want to know. Today is not the day to disillusion the novice gardener about anything in any of these photos, in fact, and thank you so much. I'll be much more ready to be philosophical about mistakes I may have made at a time distance from them, and when I'm not so achy from planting, too.)


I have a bit more room, so I may add more "crops" later, but this is a fine start, and really if it ends up being the whole enchilada, that will be fine too. The only other thing I was planning to get was a catnip plant, and they didn't have one. I got one last year, and the thing was so easy, it just grew, and every so often I'd pluck a few leaves and bring them home for Pan to eat. (Don't worry, I wasn't trying to be mean to Harold, he just doesn't like fresh catnip. He likes the dried stuff, but if offered the fresh stuff, he sniffs it and then looks at me like, "OK, what now?" While Pan gobbles it out of my hand. Different strokes.)

That catnip plant from last year, by the way? We had such a mild winter, it didn't completely die. When we went into the garden a few weeks ago to clear out the tomato cages and cucumber trellises, there were live leaves on it. Hilarious.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Five good books, just because

I'm feeling random today, and I visited my bookshelves and picked five of my favorites and pulled them off to tell you about (in blog parlance, I think this means I just tagged myself). Here they are, in no particular order, and not my five all-time favorites, either, just five good books that I re-read frequently.
  1. Captains Courageous, by Rudyard Kipling. I'm not often found in the classics, English major notwithstanding, but this one is just so good. Young Harvey Cheyne is such a brat, rich and super-spoiled, and does he ever get his come-uppance. On the Atlantic crossing with his mother, Harvey is swept overboard and picked up by a fishing boat. Not believing his tales of wealth and privilege, they refuse to cut short the season's work to take him back to shore, instead putting him to work in such a way as he has never been in his life. It's a slim read compared to some from the reading lists, and my copy (from high school) is covered with my underlinings and 'deep' notes (p84, should a man be wiser than his maker?).
  2. Once a Hero, by Elizabeth Moon. Let me say, slightly tangentially, Arthur C. Clarke gave my favorite definition of the difference between sci-fi and fantasy: "Here is my working definition: Fantasy is something that couldn't happen in the real world (though often you wish it would); Science Fiction is something that really COULD happen (though often you'd be sorry if it did)." That makes this series Science fiction, and it's good. This is actually a spin-off of another: EM takes a minor character from a battle at the end of Winning Colors and makes her the main character here, and it's excellent. Esmay got the lucky shot that turned the tide of the battle ... but it was all non-regulation, and you don't think she was just going to get a pat on the head, do you? If you want, you can start with Hunting Party, Sporting Chance, and Winning Colors, and they're good, too, but you don't need to (I didn't) to understand what's going on in this one. And if you've ever wished your futuristic sci-fi had horses and hunting, well, wish granted!
  3. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey. If you like veddy veddy English books, if you like books that are well-imagined and well-put-together, and layered upon layered, you'll like Josephine Tey. Brat Farrar is a young man who impersonates a man who went missing as a child, and disrupts the family who has grown used to his absence, including his twin, who is about to inherit. What happened all those years ago when Patrick disappeared? Hmm, and more horses. My subconscious seems to have been at work today.
  4. Mairelon the Magician, by Patricia C. Wrede. This one would be Fantasy, by Clarke's definition: magic, set in Regency England. Kim is a girl who dresses as a boy, Mairelon is a gentleman who dresses as a market performer ... no one is who they seem, and danger is afoot!
  5. Four Days' Wonder, by A.A.Milne. If you only know Milne for Winnie the Pooh, you are missing so much. Start with his autobiography, and learn how he wrote for Punch, wrote plays, novels, mysteries, short stories ... he did a little of everything, only writing the poetry and children's stuff after his son was born. Then start searching things out. My favorite of his was Two People (which I still love), until I found this. It's the enchanting story of Jenny, who simply has to run away after she accidentally disturbs the crime scene (only it wasn't really a crime)(and it could have happened to anyone) where her aunt Jane died, and how could she explain? She flees with the help of her good friend Nancy, and encounters Derek, who is in the wine-trade (only she feels that since he couldn't just be the man who sold the bottles, he must be more of "a sort of gentleman-fruit-farmer"), and more of that sort. The scene where Jenny shoots Derek's brother is priceless. It's out of print, of course, but try your library or pick up a used copy, if you like light piffle it is Well Worth Your Time.
So there you go, that's five. Do with it what you will. Having spent half the day in shopping that was only about half-successful, I'm going to go try to get something done with my evening. I have a mighty list of things to get done this weekend! Whatever your weekend calls for, whether it is lots of something or lots of nothing, I wish you well with it.

P.S. I got the Mother's Day button into the sidebar, with only a little cursing. Thanks for the guidance, Annalea, I couldn't have done it without you!

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Friday, May 25, 2007

For the cat people

If you're not a cat person, try again tomorrow; I've got nothing for you tonight (it's Friday, I'm tired). If you are, this is for you.

Harold was being cute by the open window this morning. First he showed off the undercarriage, in an obvious attempt to get me to rub the belly and activate his shedding muscles, so that I would get fur all over the work clothes:


And then, exhausted by his own machinations, it was the Big Stretch:



When I turned around, there was Pan, asking why I was pointing the picture thing at someone else. Usually he's the one being cute, and he doesn't appreciate someone else getting the attention. Did he make his point, do you think?


(I made this my wallpaper at work.)

After a moment, he couldn't even stand to look at me.

It no longer seems like anthropomorphizing.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bitten, and call it a swatch

I have to say, the comments on my complaint post have really tickled me, as I am usually the last person to complain even when it's justified. I'll mutter, I'll grump, but complain? State my dissatisfaction in a reasoned and dispassionate manner?

Of course, that's partly why I posted about this incident: the situation called for complaint, complaining was justified, I complained, and the situation improved. Wild! Even I need to learn from that.

Right now, I would like to complain to Nature about mosquitoes. I am told that all critters, large and small, lovely and pesty, have their part in the Grand Cycle and if anything vanished, it would have vast repercussions that I would be sure to dislike, but I must say, I feel my life would improve without mosquitoes.

They sure love me. If I had inherited my mother's blood, and got bitten once every ten years, I wouldn't be complaining, but I got Dad's, and right now I can hardly venture out without the little vampires sending out an all points bulletin that I am in the neighborhood. I have at least half a dozen big itchy spots from daring to set foot out of doors this week, which irks me. If I'm supposed to share the planet with them, they should share it with me. If they want a teeny bit of my blood, I'm sure they wouldn't take enough for me to notice, except that they leave itchiness behind!

I'm testing something new, new to me that is: a citronella wristband, that is supposed to repel the damn things. It does seem to help, to a degree. For example, while wearing it on my wrist, I was bitten on the ankle, so the range is clearly not full-body. Also, one needs to not mind the lemony scent, which fortunately I do not (mind, that is).

And, to state the very obvious, if you forget to wear it, it does not help at all (I never said I was perfect). One of the bites I have came on break yesterday when I forgot to wear it, and maybe it would have prevented that, who can say? I will continue to test it. I have hopes it will help, because there are a lot of mosquitoes outside at work, and I want to work in the garden without paying the blood price, or smelling of bug spray all day, which are the other options.

****

Finally, a knitting note. I took the sweaters into the Knitting Room to show Jackie how they turned out, and mentioned my nervousness at washing them. She suggested making a swatch and washing that first, which is a good idea, and also suggested how cute matching hats would be (and I love making hats!), and I think I'll kill two birds with one stone, and knit a hat and wash it, to see how it turns out. Not right this second, but before I wash the sweaters. Right now, I'm crocheting dish-scrubbies for Mum's birthday (don't worry, I'm not spoiling the surprise, she requested them; it's nice to make something you know is truly wanted, isn't it?), plus I'm getting ready for houseguests, but soon. The shower isn't until the end of June, I have time.

I feel good about this plan.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Virtue of Complaining

So often, complaining is not a virtue, and in fact will make you one unpopular puppy. Done right, however, it can have its rewards. Here is the lesson for today.

Unlike more and more people these days, I am a regular and faithful reader of my local daily newspaper, which is the Boston Globe (I hear rumors that there's another paper around here, but I haven't been able to prove it), and have been for practically ever. I got the Globe delivered when I was in college. I missed it when I lived in North Carolina; the Observer isn't a bad paper, but it's no Globe. When I was planning my move last Fall, one of the items on my address change list was "Globe". I notified them of my new address, and they started delivering to my new address.

Late.

Every morning.

The Globe has not just a delivery policy, but a guarantee: delivery Monday through Friday by 6:00. This works very well for me, because that's just when I'm getting up to have breakfast, before showering and getting ready to leave for work. I want to read the paper in the morning, when I'm not completely awake, so the bad news doesn't bother me quite as much as it otherwise would.

I can't easily move my schedule order, either, because once I'm dressed for work, there's no sitting down Chez Cat Hair: not without booking a session with the lint brush, anyway. Therefore, I'm pretty much "shower dress and out the door". So I get up, eat my breakfast in my PJs, with the newspaper, then get ready and go.

With the newspaper. When the newspaper is delivered by 6, or even 6:15, I'm okay, but when it's 6:30 or 6:45 or 7:00, I'm in trouble. I'm running late, or only reading part of the paper, or bringing it to read at lunch, when I'm more awake and it cuts into knitting time: this is all bad.

I didn't complain for a while. I'm a nice person, plus I was too busy to worry about it, having just moved. But finally it got on my nerves enough that I e-mailed the Globe, in March, to confirm that the paper was supposed to be delivered by 6 (as I was pretty sure it was), and to ask them to work with the carrier.

I e-mailed because I like having a record of when I contacted a service provider, plus it meant I didn't have to negotiate one of those voice mail mazes that always seem designed to drive you nuts before you even get to the point where you have to wait forever:

Thank you for calling Newspapers Conglomerated Incorporated. Your call is very important to us. Please listen to the following options carefully, as our menus have changed.

To reach accounting, press one.

To reach finance, press two.

To reach marketing, press three.

To reach accounting, press four.

To suggest a business story, press five.

To suggest a local story, press six.

To suggest a sports story, press seven.

To complain about our liberal bias, press eight.

To complain about Mike Barnicle's column, even though he doesn't write for the Globe anymore, press nine.

To hear more options, press pound 2 0 0 5 while humming "Buckner", crossing your fingers, and spitting over your left shoulder.

And the other reason I like e-mail, of course, is the quick response. So, when I hadn't heard from the Globe six days later, I fired off another e-mail asking if they were ever going to answer me. The next day, they answered--the first e-mail--saying that they had "passed along (my) concern to the local branch" and that, yes, 6:00 was the guaranteed delivery time. Five days later, they answered the second e-mail--the same way.

The delivery didn't change.

(Are you wondering yet why the newspaper industry is perplexed that they're having trouble keeping readers?)

I called. I talked to a really nice man who said that he could call and tell the local office of my concern, but that he couldn't guarantee when things would change (he earned points for honesty, at least). He did give me the number of the local office if I wanted to talk to them myself, so I considered that. But in the end what I decided was this:
Calling them once to say that my paper was late every day did not seem to compute, so perhaps the reverse would work: that is, calling every day, every single time that it was late.
After I got back from my trip to my grandmother's last month, I started to call every morning if the paper wasn't there by 6:15 to report a missed delivery. After a few days, a few calls, I started to get messages from the local office asking me to call them instead of the Globe's number if I was having problems. Progress! Even calls on days when I didn't call, to check on delivery. Interesting! I was getting through.

And the final results? Now, I did have those alarm-clock-failure days last week, when I got up after 7. I can't swear to delivery times on those days. Otherwise, though, I have not had a late delivery since May 2nd. It was late April 24th, April 27th, and May 2nd, and not since.

I actually reported it missed one other day, when it turned out it had been delivered, but one of my neighbors brought it in out of the pouring rain, so I thought it hadn't come (I can see the porch from my window, which saves me going downstairs before it's delivered). I think that really freaked the delivery guy out (I can imagine him: "I did deliver it! I did!"). I might feel worse about that if he hadn't been annoying me for months.

Later that week someone called one morning from the local office and told me the driver wanted me to know that the paper was there. I said I knew, I had already read it, and she said well, he just wanted me to know.

Thus endeth the lesson for today.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Oddments and random thoughts

At the risk of overdoing it with the clock blogging lately, I noticed something on the box that I thought was pretty funny. The text there is in English and Spanish. On the English side, it boasts of the "No Power No Problem System":


How do you suppose that translates? I mean, I studied French, I wouldn't begin to guess. (Not that I could translate it into French, either, before you ask.) So I turn the box:


Easier than you might think!

I had three small errands to run after work tonight: fuel the car (more expensive every week, isn't it?), return a library book, and pick up prescriptions at CVS. I only had to do the latter because I forgot to go after Stitch and Bitch last night. Guess what I forgot again tonight? I remembered it after the first two errands, but spaced out before actually going. It wasn't for anything I needed right away, fortunately, and while I could still go tonight, you notice I'm not. It's hard to get me to leave the house once I'm in. Besides, the cats need me. They don't like SnB nights, and the loss of several hours of attention. Harold is on my lap now, and Pan is giving him the eye.

Sure enough: "Meow!" from the other room. CVS can wait until tomorrow.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Ready for twins

So I'm supposed to be modest and all, but really, aren't the sweaters cute? I mean, really? I'm tickled at how they came out. Not bad for my first sweater knitting. Not perfect, but hey, neither am I.

I think they'll hold up to the babies, which is what counts in the end (other than the affection knit into every stitch, that is). And if not, well, they're cute, and the parents will have a while to just look at them before they'll fit the babies, anyway, so cute has to be worth something on its own.

You realize it's about going to kill me to put these in the washing machine, right? The yarn is machine wash and dry, and I really can't give the sweaters to the parents untested. That would not be nice. Ouch. I shall have to be strong. Not tonight, though. Not tonight.

A couple of other things:
  • The alarm clock is a Sony, from the Dream Machine line, and it did indeed wake me this morning just as it should have. I'm not complacent yet, but that was encouraging. I bought it at Sears, in case anyone wondered.
  • I want to put the "button" for the Mother's Day Project in my sidebar, but I know I've seen people mention in other places that one should be careful to take buttons properly so that you use your own something-or-other (bandwidth?) and not the host's. Anyone know what that means and can explain to me in words of one syllable what I should do, so I don't mess with Anne's site?

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

The proof will be in the alarming

But at least I found one. Interestingly, this photo, taken with the flash, washed out one of the features:

The time is in green, the alarm time in orange. The alarm only shows if it's set.

How amazingly intuitive. Forget about a little dot like the little AM or PM dot and you're supposed to remember which dot is which only I never do. If the orange time is on, that means the alarm will be going off at that time. Well. That seems quite simple.

Also, when I plugged the clock in, it knew what time it was. Apparently it could tell from the electricity. (Don't ask me how.) I had to flick the switch to tell it we're in daylight saving time, and the time was set. I like that in a clock.

It still has to wake me in the morning, so I don't want to get too excited prematurely. Still, nice.

And foot? Still hurts. Mysterious. I took it easy last night, thus finishing the first sleeve and starting the second, but it didn't help the foot at all. I'm baffled. And limping. But otherwise good. I had meatloaf, baked potato, and asparagus for dinner, and I have a new clock. It could be worse.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

See the link?

You may have noticed a link I added to the sidebar, recently and without fanfare, but if not, I wanted to introduce it. Not a friend this time, not a new-found blog, but interesting to those of us who can pore over site statistics or sports standings or such, and if you are one of these, you may find this entertaining. See where it says "Who links to me?"

When you click on that, it takes you to a site where you can enter the address of your blog (or someone else's, I suppose, if you want to be a voyeur) and find out all about who has linked to your blog, and when, and where. I learned just how much I should be thanking Jennifer and Monica; thanks, guys! It's an interesting way to spend a few minutes, if you find such things interesting.

Otherwise? It's a chilly, rainy Saturday, the cats are being cute but high-maintenance, I'm getting over a headache and am currently not in pain but feeling draggy and unmotivated to Get Anything Done, plus my stomach is unsettled. Nothing particularly wrong, just not an exciting day.

I did move the furniture thing I use to hold sheets and towels out of the office (where it never really belonged) and into the hall closet, where it makes much more sense for it to be, and it makes that much more room in the office as well. Which, since the office is going to be fulfilling its other purpose of guest room in a few weeks, is all for the best. It's not a large item, but tall, and having it out of the room makes a difference in my eyes, at least.

I'm also hampered by a sore foot this afternoon, which perplexes me as I can't think what I did to it. I wouldn't have been surprised to be slightly sore generally in the arms or legs this morning, since I picked up a couple of pallets after work last night (for my basement storage area, to put things on to protect from dampness), and they're not light, did you know, pallets? (Or perhaps it's that I'm not all that strong.) They're awkward, anyway, and by the time I got the third one out of the car and into the storage area, my arms were a little achy. But they're all right today; yet as the day has worn on, my right foot has become more and more sore, as though I had a pebble in my shoe. The Princess and the Pea! Weird. I hope the pain goes as mysteriously as it came (I should be so lucky).

To look on the bright side, it gives me an excuse to spend the evening with my feet up, doesn't it? I could knit, thus accomplishing something, too. I'm still working on the first sleeve of the sweater, so I'll try to get that done tonight. Hopefully if I rest my foot, it will be up for alarm clock shopping tomorrow!

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Yarn Harlot is coming! The Yarn Harlot is coming!

Breaking news! The Yarn Harlot is coming to the Borders at Wayside Commons in Burlington, Massachusetts! Spread the word!

Whew. If you're local, or willing to travel, mark your calendar for Thursday, July 12, and start your engines. I'm so excited. This doesn't get more convenient for me.

I stopped in there tonight to use a coupon or two (okay, two) on the verge of expiry (hate to waste), and in the process of browsing visited their 3-for-2 table. Last time I was in, I saw that they had the Yarn Harlot's first two books on that table, which I want to own and don't, but there actually wasn't one other book on that table that I wanted, so I didn't get them (everything happens for a reason). Tonight, I saw a book there that a friend had just recommended, Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love, which she's enjoying so much she doesn't want to finish, so I thought why not, since it's essentially free?

Which is why, when I checked out, the woman who rang up the sale (who's a knitter herself) saw Stephanie's books and told me that it had just been confirmed that she's coming, and to spread the word, so here I am, starting to spread it!

I'm not at all sorry I went to New York, though. I Represented. It Was Good. But this is pretty damn cool, too. And I can stay up late and drive home to my own bed and cats after. And if she needs anything local, I can help! Stephanie, you need anything? Let me know!

Ooh, I've got to tell my Stitch and Bitch group on Monday.

Anyway, other shopping and thinking about shopping. I need to buy an alarm clock this weekend. (Anticlimax, right? Such is life.) I don't know for sure when I bought this one, but not that long ago, within the last year or so. However, in that expressive Southern phrase*, "it don't do right," and we can't have that. I overslept this morning, I overslept Monday morning, I'm buying a new one, period. A different brand.

*By which I mean, it's an expression I first heard in the South. It's just so descriptive of certain things.

I'm a snooze-button hitter by habit, that's not the problem. Both these days, I never heard a thing, and my sleeping through it completely might possibly happen once, but not twice, no. Not when I checked the volume last night before I went to sleep to make sure the radio wasn't set too quietly, and it was fine. No, something's loose, or wiggly, or broken, or something. It just don't do right, and I'll buy another one.

Sony, maybe, they're still a good name in small electronics, aren't they? I don't want to spend a lot of money, but I want something I can rely on, with a dual alarm, and maybe a CD player too. Actually, I'd like a cassette player, but I think that's too 20th century for the market, they're going to offer me places to stick my MP3 player, and they don't listen when I tell them where to stick ... sigh. Anyway, I don't have an MP3 player, so I don't need a machine that knows what to do with one. It would be putting the cart before the horse. And where would I put a horse?

As for considering, I was browsing the new Knitpicks catalog, and found myself contemplating the KIPer* knitting bag set with an interested eye. If you haven't looked at it, it's a set of three project bags, small, medium, and large, and a purse, that clips to any of them, so you carry the project you're working on (whatever size it is) and your personal belongings, without looking quite so much like a bag lady as one sometimes does.

*KIP = Knit In Public

They're nice-looking bags, in the photo anyway, and I'm rather tempted. I wish I could see them in person, though, or that the website had more photos (worth a thousand words, after all), and especially of the insides. I'd like to see how well they're made, what they feel like, how much they would really hold. (I have trouble imagining from measurements, though I guess I could measure some bags I have to compare.) I think I'll websearch, or blog-search, this weekend and see if I can find people who bought them and talk about them how they like them. I do need to replace my worn-out "purse for if I need to pretend I'm a grown-up", and this might be a way to do it. Contemplate, ponder...

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

A few bugs yet

I'm sensing that even though it's 2007, Microsoft has not fully resolved their Y2K issues. You think?

Either that, or New Toy is capable of time travel, which would be pretty cool, but I think that would have cost extra, and I know I didn't pay for that.

I have to go get ready for bed now, so I can watch the season finale of CSI at 9. I usually watch the CSIs via On Demand some time during the week after they air (love the On Demand from Comcast, so I can watch at my convenience, with minimal commercials), but tonight Sarah's disappearing and we find out who's behind the miniature killings, and I think I have to watch in (gasp) real time. Oh, the humanity.

Pan will be thrilled, since he really wants my lap back. The cats have been very lappy tonight. We lost power sometime today, I had to reset clocks, so perhaps there were boomers (i.e., thunderstorms, which they hate), and they want reassurance. I was on the computer earlier dealing with installing Ad-Aware and Spybot, and Pan was on my lap, and Harold came along mewing for the lap, really insistently, as if to say, "How can there be another cat on your lap when I want it?" He hung around for about 5 minutes before he gave up. Such a hard life. I am in great demand sometimes. Yet when I want a cat on my lap, there are times when I can go begging.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I need this shirt, period.

Don't you think it's just me?
You can find it here. I love Despair.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Apparently

Apparently:
  • I am unable to stop believing the weather forecast, even though I say that I know how often they're wrong. I continue to look at the actual weather and say, "but it's supposed to be..." as if the one thing has anything to do with the other.
  • I am also unable to stop listening to or reading the weather forecasts in the first place.
  • I have my limits to how much I want a story to mess around with me. I just listened to a good book on audio, The Vanished Man by Jeffrey Deaver, and I enjoyed it, but really it had that one twist too many, and it left me feeling manipulated. It's a mystery that had to do with magic and illusion and misdirection, and it absolutely worked, but it still left a bitter taste in my mouth. I don't think I'll read Deaver again, and it's kind of a shame because it was good, but ... just went too far for me.
  • Even though the baby shower for which I need to finish the second sweater is later than another project deadline I have, I am not rational enough to stop knitting the sweater and work on the other project first, especially now that the end (of the sweater, that is) is in sight. I want to finish the sweater. I want to. It looks like this:
Only I've finished the neckband (in blue) and started one of the sleeves. I'd get up and take another picture, but Harold is on my lap, and discouraging such nonsense. He says this is close enough, and that you know what it looks like from the other one:
He's got a point, really, even if he is prejudiced because he doesn't want to get up. (Of course, he's already de-lapped himself once, but that's different: it was his idea.)

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Mostly photo

I went to stitch-n-bitch tonight, so I got home late and have cats mewing pathetically for my attention; I overslept this morning because I stayed up late last night playing with the New Toy; I'm pretty tired, basically. So what I'm giving you tonight is this: old monitor versus new monitor, and why I will be so happy once I get old one off the desk.

The old one is pretty obvious, yes? In the middle and all the way over to the left. To its right is a little white speaker, and to the right of that is the profile of the new, black monitor. I know, you can hardly see it from the side, right? So cool. The face of it isn't much bigger than the old one, really, and I almost regret not going a little larger, but they got so expensive so quickly ... anyway, I love love love the flat screen part, way cool.

About the printer-plug thing, thank you all again for bringing me closer to current-day technology. I didn't really think about the U in USB standing for Universal! I am familiar with USB plugs and ports from my digital camera, and can find them on New Toy. A couple on the front, which makes using the camera much easier by the way (it's the little things in life), and yes a few on the back too. So once I figure out the printer issue (not tonight, yawn and meow), it will plug into that, cool. You guys rock, all three of you!

Yawn and meow...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hope is a bridge

One of the things I mentioned recently that I wanted to blog about was the small part I'm taking in a project. This is a web-based project, so to speak, that I first read about on Franklin's blog. It seems an appropriate subject for Mother's Day, though so far all I've done is the thinking about it, the pre-work, so to speak.

Anne wanted to do something about the war, not exactly a protest but in a sort of take-notice way, and had the idea of sewing the names of the female soldiers who have died in Iraq onto a tote bag. She asked if others would be interested in sewing some of the names, and the project has taken off from there. (The links above are to the project's website and to her blog, but you can read the original post on her blog here; she describes it much better than I do.)

At the time, 79 women had died (although tragically another has since been added to the list). The name I was given is Jamie Jaenke.



She died last June (2006):

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a sailor who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jaime* S. Jaenke, 29, of Bay City, Wis., died June 5 as a result of enemy action when her HMMWV was struck by an improvised explosive device in Al Anbar province, Iraq. She was assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 25, Fort McCoy, Wis.

The incident also resulted in the death of Petty Officer 1st Class Gary Rovinski.

I found out a little bit about her via my friend Google (*some sites spelled her name Jamie, some Jaime, so I have to find out which to learn if the cloth is correct).

She was an EMT before she became a Seabee.

She had been in Iraq since January.

She had recently moved to Iowa; she was the first woman from Iowa to die in Iraq.

She wanted to open a stable business after she came home, and now her friends are finishing it as a tribute to her.

She had worked as an EMT, and she left behind her parents and a nine-year-old daughter.

She was a single mother, so her parents are raising her daughter now.

Dear lord. I am 38, and the thought of losing my mother even now gives me the chills. A few years ago, after a friend died, I had a dream where my mother died, and I saw her spirit and called out to her, "But you promised you wouldn't!", and she just looked really sad, and I woke up crying. I can not imagine losing her at the age of 9. I don't know how I would have survived that. I mean, you do, I guess, people do, but you're never whole after something like that. Are you? How could you be?

So, I haven't started the stitching yet, but of course that isn't going to be much. I mean, in a physical, literal sense, all I am going to do is sew over the typed name on the square of fabric, and send it back to Anne. I want to choose a rainbow of colors for the letters of her name, because the arc of a rainbow is like a bridge that carries us over the hard times, and sometimes all we have is the hope that we will get through the hard times, so I think that's what the colors will represent for me. When I select the colors and get stitching, I'll have camera at the ready, and post again.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sights of Spring

Of course I have been playing with the new toy today, but it isn't the only thing I've done. I just finished my laundry -- on a Saturday, which will lend a certain fillip of extra joy to my Sunday -- and I ran the dishwasher and trimmed my nails and took some things down to the basement storage area and, since I had a book due back to the local library and the weather was decent, I took a walk to bring it back.

I've been saying since I moved here, almost six months ago, how much I looked forward to the weather being nice enough for this, because I am within walking distance of the downtown area and it's such a cute little downtown, in my new town. I only went to the library today, but I enjoyed the walk so much. You just see so much more detail at walking pace than you do driving.

For one thing, I saw violets everywhere.


Either it's a really good year for them, or I've been missing them in the past. Then there was this in the sidewalk, which of course I never saw driving by:


I just Googled it, and apparently they're a concrete company. Wild!

I turned down a side street to look at some interesting houses, and heard something rustling in the bushes. I turned around and guess who?


Can you see who she has in her mouth? It's a little easier to see in the next picture, though the focus isn't as clear since they were moving.


Apparently I caught them on moving day. I was so surprised to see them out in daylight! She wasn't very far away from me, and didn't seem bothered by me, though she was pretty quick to move away.

There were flowering trees that were pretty even against mostly cloudy skies:

And a lot of the tulips are over but some are still around, and what are these fuzzy things, I don't know:

Then there was this bush, so colorful, so rigorously pruned, very interesting:


Finally, Harold has commented that he'd been getting the short end of the stick here, photographically, and while I'm not about to count how many photos of each of them I've posted, I have a sneaking suspicion he may have a point. There's no denying that when I went to the Humane Society in Charlotte, nine years ago this summer, Pan was my first choice, and much as I love Harold, I sometimes think he can tell. So I give you some Harold porn to make up for the inequality a little bit. He's very pose-able when he's in the mood.

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Here's a problem

I didn't order a printer with the new computer, planning to get a new one at a later date. I just went to connect my old one to it to print something out, and there is no place on the new computer to connect a printer. They appear to have felt that if I didn't order a printer, I had no plans to ever print with the new machine.

Wrong!

In fact, although my old computer is seven years old, my printer is about 10; I didn't order a printer with the last machine, and it came with a spot to plug in a printer. And it's a Dell, too. Is this a shift in the computer world I was unaware of: are printers on their way out? I can't imagine it myself. Anyway, I'll have to call them and inquire what gives. I may not print huge amounts, but I really do need the capability. Sigh. Perfection is fleeting, isn't it?

Still, the speed of this thing is joyful. Which makes the prospect of sending it back to be fixed, as I imagine now I may have to, truly pissy.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The best-laid plans

I had planned to head home tonight, relax after a busy week at work, perhaps blog about the weather or knitting, then spend a good chunk of time this weekend getting the old computer and office ready for the anticipated arrival of the new computer, and clean out the back of the car, too (since the box was being delivered at work), etc.

Except? I checked the tracking info online this morning, to see where the box was, and it said it was on the truck for delivery.

What's that? The box that was supposed to be delivered sometime next Monday to Wednesday? Well, that's unexpected! Good, but unexpected. I mean, I ordered the thing Tuesday night, and they said it would take a couple of days to be 'built' and 3-5 days for delivery, and instead here we are on Friday. It must have been a slow week at Dell.

Not that I'm complaining! It's 7:20, and I'm hooked up and typing away, and I have all weekend to play with it. Everything isn't set up, of course, and not one thing is transferred, but here we go, the start of a new era.

Now, the reason why I'll leave it at that for now has to do with this guy, as seen here this morning, resting from a strenuous night of bothering me:


He liked my original evening's plans much better, and has been dancing around meowing, so I'm going to go pay him some attention before coming back here to play some more (the photo uploaded in no time, love it!).

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Three days of Summer

Spring is supposed to be coming back, but for three days now, we've had summer, 80s and all. I'm currently barefoot, wearing shorts, and sweating a bit. It's nice, actually, for a change, it's been lovely to be warm, even hot, but I'll welcome Spring back, too. So lovely, the flowers blooming and leaves on the trees and green and colors everywhere. I was going to post photos but that'll have to be another day, I'm yawning fit to bust my jaw here, and the new (high-speed compatible) computer won't be here until next week, and I Can Not Face Doing the Photos On Dial-Up tonight. So sorry.

I'm very excited for the new arrival, too. I got the "it shipped" message today, with an estimated delivery of next Monday to Wednesday. So when I go silent for a day or three, you'll know why. Hopefully it won't be long, but knock some wood for me. It's just your basic Dell Dimension, nothing fancy, but This Thing is limping along toward its 7th birthday and needs to be put out to pasture in the worst way, so I'm sure in comparison I will be having some fun with the new toy. I even splurged and doubled the memory (2 GB!), so it should knock my socks off. Can't wait, can't wait. I need to spend some time looking around this machine, seeing what I can delete before the games begin, so to speak.

But not tonight. Need to get the laundry out of the machines, and get ready for bed, because at the speed I'm moving, it'll take me a while to get there, and boy, do I need to get there. Almost weekend, yahoo!

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

When blood is 'clean'

Pan's bloodwork came back clean: no diseases, no bad reports. His limp is even better (no, he hasn't been practicing; I mean he's limping less), and since that was the last lingering trace of the Friday traumatic vet visit, we're going to be talking about yarn again here in no time!

Not quite yet, though. He did still lose the weight, after all. The vet had said from the start that cats with cardiac conditions can lose weight because of that condition; we had to go through the testing just in case it was something else causing the weight loss. So it is good news that there isn't apparently something else going on. {I say apparently because it is still possible that there's something else there, currently undetected, like a tumor (ulp).} I'll be monitoring Pan's weight regularly from here on, and if he either loses a lot more weight in a short period of time, or loses enough weight over a long period that he gets down to an unhealthy weight, we'll go looking for an underlying cause. For now, though, he's good, I'm relieved, and we can stop making this all-cats-all-worry-all-the-time. Won't that be nice for everyone?

So here are some of the things I can think of to blog about in the coming days:
  • knitting, which I have been doing, not that you'd know it! I'm working on the second sweater, that's the sweater for the second baby, and it's coming nicely.
  • the weather, which has improved out of all recognition: I will have nice things to say about the weather! Paeans! (You won't recognize me.) And photos of flowers and blue skies. Lovely.
  • a more serious project I've involved myself in, in a very small way
  • a fat rant on YouTube, and what it got me thinking about (you can go watch it now if you like, and start your own thinking ahead of time)
  • a song on the radio, and what it got me thinking about
  • buying a new computer, finally finally, if my old computer doesn't crash again tonight in the process (as it did Sunday, blue screen of death, how ironic is that?)
In closing, have you ever had something happen that, while not pleasant in itself, is so close to being so much worse that all you can be is overwhelmingly grateful?

I was driving home tonight, traffic was bad, got off the highway, slow-and-go on the side roads, when a bird pooped right on my windshield, splat! I don't think I ever got hit while I was driving before, and it's pretty nasty, you know?

Except. Maybe two feet farther back is my open sun roof.

Yuck! Oh. Thank. God!

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

99% normal

Whew! I have my kitty back.

Other than a slight limp, which I attribute to soreness from the shots (and which I'll discuss with the vet tomorrow when we're going over the results of the bloodwork), Pan is completely back to normal. What a relief! I can feel the knots in the back of my neck slowly unkinking.

The whole process could have been worse, not that I'm volunteering to ever go through it again. First of all, a good friend offered to drive us, so that I could hold the baby and comfort him in the car. I really think this helped a lot in the keeping him calm department. Usually any time he's in the car*, he lets out one of those ungodly meow-moans every minute or so, just to let me know he's still there and suffering, in case I might forget. This time, he looked around a little, then retreated under the blanket, tucked his head under my elbow, and did his best impression of a cat who wasn't there.

*The only time he ever lapsed into extended silence in the car was moving, first from NC to PA, then from PA to MA, each about 7-8 hours in the car. After an hour or so, grumpy silence reigned. I would stop periodically and offer them food, water, litter box, and they would just look at me like, "Just get us wherever we're going already." Fun times!

Once we were at the vet, I took him out of the carrier again (I did bring it, just in case), and held him until it was time to go in, and while I was talking to the vet tech about the situation, and she had me carry him to the scale to be weighed since he was holding on pretty well, though he wasn't as growly at them as last time he was in. Then the vet came in, they gave him the sedative shot, and we had to wait for it to take effect before they could take him to take the blood. I kept talking to him, and trying to stay calm, which was hard, because my mind was messing with me, thinking of everything that could go wrong, but finally it was time, and they took him, and brought him back, and it was time to go (after paying the bill, talk about insult to injury, but I don't really care in the long run, you know?). It was such a relief to get him home.

Of course, watching him not being himself was hard. His eyes were all dilated, and he was walking wrong, and he'd sit by his food bowl and look at the food like he didn't know what it was. He startled a lot, at nothing I could hear or see, and didn't settle. But by yesterday afternoon, he sat on my lap, just for a few minutes at first, and once he purred, I felt so much better.

I actually had to go out late morning yesterday for an appointment, and I wasn't worried at that point to cancel or anything, so I went, and afterward I treated myself to a bookstore visit for the first time in forever (like maybe since Christmas? I've been trying to be so fiscally good, and bookstores are so tempting). I bought Charlaine Harris' new Sookie Stackhouse vampire mystery, and the latest Get Fuzzy collection, and brought them home and read both yesterday, both very good (in of course very different ways), and just had a quiet watching-the-cat-recover afternoon. I had a headache last night, so I didn't do a whole lot else, a bit of cleaning and some TV. Today I have some errands out and some housekeeping in, and I've been providing a lap. Nice stuff.

Guess who just jumped up? His limp hasn't hampered him jumping completely. He says hi! And thanks everyone for their well-wishes, as do I. Means the world to us here Chez Cat Hair. Happy weekend, everyone, and here's hoping for good news when I talk to the vet tomorrow about the test results.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Also...

I patted, scritched, and brushed him a little, and he purred.

I feel better.

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Approaching normal

We're getting back to life as usual here. Not quite there yet: Pan is still zoned out. His eyes aren't quite right (pupils too big), he walks a little funny, sits down suddenly sometimes, startles easily, and the thought balloon I imagine over his head says "What did I come in here for?"

I'm not sure he slept last night; he wasn't on the bed, anyway, any time I woke up, and that's totally unusual. But he's eating and drinking, and he'll rub his head against my hand if I come near him, once he gets over the surprise of my appearance: "Where did you come from?" Then he'll roll on his back on the floor, then jump up and move away.

More later.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I'm scared

I realized today, I don't think it's a coincidence that I've had a headache on and off for days now. Or that I'm really, really on edge recently.* I'm totally trying not to think about taking Pan to the vet on Friday for the bloodwork that should determine why he's lost so much weight over the last year, and I'm kind of successful in not thinking about it, but there are the headaches and there's the fact that my back is so tensed up, my shoulders are somewhere near my ears most of the time.

*One of my coworkers was getting text-messaged by her daughter this afternoon, and by about the fifth one (beep-beep! beep-beep!), I wanted to take the phone away from her and smash it against a wall. Tense, me?

At this stage, I'm slightly more worried about the logistics of Friday, and the aftermath of the sedation, than about the results of the test. One thing at a time, you know? There's only so much panicking I can handle. But then I'll pick Harold up right after putting Pan down, and he weighs so much more, and they always used to weigh the same, almost to the ounce, all their lives, and I could cry.

Well, almost all their lives. Harold was a runt, he weighed something like 3 pounds to Pan's 5 when I got them. But he caught up quickly, and ever since, they were right about the same weight. It was kind of funny, because they aren't really built the same way, Harold is longer and Pan is more compact, so they don't look like they'd be the exact same weight. But every year, there they'd be at the vet, just about the same. I would ask the techs if they were sure they cleared the scale between weighing the two cats? And they'd say yes.

And now, no. And it's a really visible, in-my-face reminder of the problem. And I try not to think about it, and have ice cream for dinner (not every night, or that would explain the headaches by itself), and just try to get through. And I try to be grateful that Pan doesn't know he has this trial coming, though sometimes that makes me want to cry, too.

He's having some serious trouble getting comfortable between me and the keyboard, here. Baby needs a proper lap, so I have to go now.

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