Sunday, December 30, 2012

In Place of the Trip Tale (for now)

I'm working on a post about the trip, but it's taking longer than I hoped to, and I want to get to bed at a decent hour. So let me finish it tomorrow night or Tuesday, and for now, I'll leave you with this:
Four years ago was the last time we were in Florida for Christmas. My mother got a wreath, which scented the whole condo wonderfully, and in fact after we left, when it started to go brown, it still smelled good. So my mother hung it up in the garage, where she could smell the good scent and not be bothered by falling needles.

Four years later, if you lean in, you can still smell Christmas. What kind of witchcraft is that?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Home

Carlos is draped over my arm, purring. I had an excellent week and it's always terribly hard to leave, but coming back to him is good.

I have lots of pictures to show, tomorrow if the head allows, but tonight let me report on a small Christmas miracle: on both my flights, each of which was almost totally full, the seat next to me was empty. What a difference it makes! Did you see any small miracles this week?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from Florida

Seen on a two-mile walk on the beach today. You can keep your snowmen!

Ahhhh.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

And Away I Go

I'm so glad that I gave myself this day between work and travel, for packing and getting organized in a leisurely way. After the day I had yesterday, if I had needed to get home and pack-pack-pack last night in order to travel today, my head might have exploded. This way, I'm easing into relaxing vacation mode, and it feels fine.

I am, in fact, mostly packed now: "all" I have left to do is clothing. I know, that's not nothing, but I like to ponder it last. I wanted to do a few loads of laundry today, more so that it will be done when I return than that I need things to take with me, but that's done now. I even had time to run over to the library earlier and pick up a book that came in. It's chilly and windy out (a wind advisory, even), but partly sunny, and though there may be snow flurries tonight, it doesn't seem that it will be anything to worry about for early-morning travel (thank heavens).

Carlos has been asking for plenty of attention today, but he is also able to relax without me sometimes, which is a good thing.
The baby. Missing him is the only bad part about leaving. Knowing I'm coming back to him does make leaving Florida and family easier. But I'm jumping too far ahead: I haven't even gone yet! Happy holidays, and be good while I'm away.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Looks Like We Made It! Next Stop: Vacation-land!

What a day! The office (or at least parts of it) has been working frankly insane hours trying to get multiple reports out by the end of the month* despite all the holidays and vacations thereunto appertaining. I spent the whole day trying to do as much as I possibly could, barely stopping for lunch, starting with Report C (whole, but not written locally--I first edited it back in August!), then was given a piece of Report A, then had a piece of Report B, then another from A and finally another from B**. Never did get back to C, so not much of that got done. Boom--boom--boom.
*Because that means so much, of course.
**Not my best work on that one, need I say. But better than no editing at all.

I think their deadlines are quite mad, and wouldn't even feel sorry for not being able to magically edit everything today, except that I like the people involved and I feel badly for them. But not enough to stay until midnight, even were I able to do so! And I couldn't, not just because I didn't want to but because editing doesn't work that way. I could feel the edge going by 4 o'clock, and I worked a bit later than that. Then, bang! Out the door and into vacation-land!

Well, not literally. Literally it was out the door and into mad rush-hour holiday traffic. But as the evening progresses, I feel the working-world's claws letting me go, and relaxation teasing at the corners of my mind. All day tomorrow to get ready, and Sunday morning I'm off!

I did make my banana bread last night, although it almost didn’t happen. I got the bananas ready, then looked at the recipe and realized that I didn’t have Crisco in the house. It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine that Crisco doesn’t come in smaller amounts, since I don’t bake enough to use it up before it turns, and always seem to be throwing it away. I mulled this over, thinking of waiting until tonight to make it after a grocery-store stop, then decided to browse the internet for a recipe that used butter, instead.

I looked at a whole bunch of them, easily eliminating some due to the presence of ingredients that meant it wasn't my kind of banana bread. I mean, the one with cinnamon might be delicious, but it isn't banana bread, not to me. And candied ginger? Next! I ended up choosing this one, from Simply Recipes, though I was a little wary of the vanilla, and it does fall victim to a banana-bread-specific pet peeve, which is giving the amount of bananas needed by number of bananas. People, please! A banana is not a specific unit of measure! Have you seen how the size of them can vary? Please, give me an estimate of how many cups you mean. Even if it's not exact, a ballpark idea would be great.

It turned out pretty good anyway; I did not take a picture because, well, I find banana bread inherently non-photogenic, but it tastes good, which is what counts in the end. It's very moist, almost dense, while the recipe I have from my mother is sort of lighter. I don't know if I'm explaining it well, and no matter: I brought some in to work, for the stalwart few who came in (some were out on vacation, and some working from home), and I'll have some tomorrow and then some to take for breakfast on the plane. Yum!

I don't have anywhere to go with this, so I'm going to close with a wonderful quote that I read on Alexa's blog.
Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.
–William James
I love this! I'm too tired to Google it and fall down that rabbit-hole, but does anyone know anything about the author?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Day Before the Day Before Vacation

Today was such a long day, and that was with a surprise* pizza lunch from the big boss**, and without a bomb threat to the building (not something I could say about Wednesday)(no, really). I can tell already that tomorrow is going to feel world-record long. I'm ready for vacation! For Christmas! For family and Florida and sun and relaxing! Now, please.
*I'm surprised the fates didn't have me wearing white for the occasion, but I happened to wear a red sweater today ... so although I didn't drop anything on my sweater, somehow I dropped a piece of tomato on my shoe. I don't know how.
*Which was very nice of him, and I enjoyed it (more than the fondue at the holiday party last week, to be honest), but who ever heard of someone picking up pizza for an office lunch and returning without even one cheese pizza, and with both deep-dish, chopped-tomato-topped pizza (delicious, but heavy and messy), and pizza with actual anchovies? I thought that was an urban legend. Is it because he's English? Is it a cultural thing?

My parents moved to Florida in 1996, and though at the time I was living in North Carolina, a state not known for its picture-perfect, Norman Rockwell-esque, snowy Christmases, I was dubious about spending a winter holiday in the Sunshine State. I worried that it wouldn't "feel" like Christmas if it wasn't cold, and grey, and possibly snowy (we didn't always have snow at Christmas when I was a kid, but it was unquestionably winter).

I think growing up in the north had brainwashed me; it turns out that it grows on you, being warm even in December. Particularly as I have grown more and more fond of warmth as I've gotten older. But the weather, though pleasant to anticipate, is not the main thing I'm looking forward to. A week of low-key, no-pressure, hanging-out time with my mother and brother sounds so amazing; it's been a few years since it was just the three of us for more than a day, here or there. And I feel so lucky, that this is something I both want and get.

I can't wait!

I'm going to walk on the beach, and swim if it's warm enough*, and for the sake of my leg muscles I'm planning to do a lot of stairs--down, at least. My mother's place is on the sixth floor, and climbing up those stairs has little appeal. Down, I can do. We're going to chat, and catch up, and remember family stories, and eat and drink and eat and drink. Fresh OJ! Coffeecake! Raspberries! On the lanai... No coats, scarves, gloves, hats, shivering... Oh, I can't wait.
*The forecast is showing about a 40-degree difference between here and there, so it will certainly be WARM. Will it be warm enough that I want to swim, though? It isn't going to be HOT.

The world had better not end tomorrow. I don't expect it to, but if it does, I'll be the really angry one in the afterlife, fussing and sputtering and looking for the Complaint Department.

I stopped at the drugstore for a few things yesterday, and when I went to check out, it was like, instead of the Ice Capades, I stumbled onto the Little-Old-People-Leaning-on-Their-Shopping-Carts Capades. There were four in line ahead of me, and the clerk called for backup first once and then again, so it wasn't the store's fault that the pace was glacial. But every one of them was slow-moving and hardly-balancing and how-much-is-that and what-about-my-rewards-card, and it honestly was kind of amusing. Which is better than finding it annoying, right?

And it was pretty much over the top. I might even have been smothering laughter, had it not been that my increasing need for the bathroom was diminishing my sense of humor. Though when I was trying to leave the store, and two of the people involved, blocking the exit, turned out to be married to each other (though they had checked out separately), and she was berating him about why he didn't buy something for someone, and turn around, go back and get it? Well, once I made it past them, I think I was giggling in the parking lot. Where were the hidden cameras? That was too much.

I went from there to the library (where I found the bathroom, phew, I know you were worried), and I sat in one of their comfy chairs and finished the last mitten for the mitten tree.
I made one pair according to this pattern, and then another slightly larger pair (36 stitches versus 28). I had also found a hat that I made a few years ago and stuck in a drawer, because it wasn't supposed to be a baby hat, oh well.
It will fit someone!

Tonight I also had two errands. I swung into Barnes & Noble to pick up a book, which I can't name since it's a gift, but I read about it online, knew I wanted to get it, checked the availability online and was able to place a hold there too, so it was waiting for me when I went in. The line only took five minutes, which at this time of year isn't bad, and who minds five minutes of knitting time? After that, it was off to Petsmart to stock up on cat food and litter to get us through the holidays. I'm pleased to report that the total bill went from $89 to $64 with my coupons and discount card. Nice savings! And now, I plan to make banana bread with the very-very-very ripe bananas in the fridge. Toodles!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Knock-Wood Exercise Update

I just got off the bike, so you can imagine the mild burn in my quads. I can't believe I have to do stretches now! It's helping a lot, though, so it's worth it. In addition to quad-focused stretches, before and after riding, I'm trying to do some that target the back of the calves (possibly the soleus, though my google-fu is uncertain), since those are getting sore, too, whatever they are. But my main question is this: why does the exercise kind of, sort of, seem to be maybe working this time?

Yes, I'm knocking on wood. But I've tried to get into exercise many times over the years, and have given it good efforts, and it's never "worked". As I've doubtless said here, and I know I've said to friends, nothing comes of it: it takes time and effort, I'm tired and sweaty, and I don't lose weight, clothing doesn't fit better, I don't feel better, my endurance doesn't improve, nothing. Hard to keep doing it! But this time, well.

I haven't lost much weight. I've weighed myself just about weekly since I started, and the number has gone up a little, down a little, nothing much. But! I checked my archives, and it was November 4th when I wrote this:
Also, can you explain how I found a pair of Old Navy corduroy trousers (for $2.99, thank you Savers) in size 18 that fit me, while the ones I found a few visits ago in size 20, also Old Navy, are too small? That's just messed up.
And now, the 20s don't quite want to stay up, and though the 18s are tight, I can wear them. How do you like them apples?

I still don't get why it's working this time, and man am I knocking on wood. I mean, I do still hate doing it. But if there's something to show for it, well! Hello, motivation, nice to meet you! (Speaking of which, the sock is turning the heel. So far, so good!) And to end on a Christmas note, here's the UVM women's hockey team with a Christmas lip-synch that you're be glad you watched.

At least I was. How about those goalies?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Head.


My head has been up and down, better and worse, fine and then not. Overall, today has not been as bad as yesterday was, but that is far from a ringing endorsement.

It's rather tiresome.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sometimes

Generally, when I have a migraine, I don't particularly mind living alone. Some sympathy would be nice, sure, or a hug, but I can imagine that all except the most sympathetic (hi, Mum) would eventually find the moaning annoying, and who needs to feel like they can't let it all out? However, tonight I want tuna noodle casserole, and it would be so nice if there was someone here to make it for me. As there is not, however, I'm off to heave a martyred sigh and do it myself. Here's hoping the pain holds off for a while--it's not too bad right now, but today has been very up and down, and while I'd like to think so, I don't dare believe that it's done with me.

Sigh. Comfort food, here I come.

Edited to add: It's in the oven!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Yesterday in Newport

The weather this afternoon is swinging between drizzle and snow flurries, and it's quite dark for 4 PM. Can I get a cheer for the last week of increasing darkness before the days start lengthening again? Looking out the window now, it's hard to believe that just yesterday the sun was shining, but it was! And I have proof. Take a look around Newport, Rhode Island.








I thought the word Zsolnay was someone's name, but it turns out to be a type of porcelain. Who knew?

The motto for my office project:



We had an exceptional dinner at Mamma Luisa's. We were lucky to get in early without a reservation, and the food was absolutely wonderful! Highly recommend.
The only part of the day that wasn't perfect was when we drove around the mansions expecting to see lots of Christmas lights, only to find them few and far between; I saw more lights in my neighborhood than there were in the fabulous homes. Still, can't complain about a practically perfect day.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Of Knitting and Fondue

I had a great day today, in Newport RI with friends, and I'll try to sort out my pictures tomorrow to show you. Fun window shopping and great architecture! For now, though, I'm looking back at this last week a bit, while I get ready for The Last Week Before Christmas.

It's a relief to have my knitting planned and ready for the upcoming trip, sock finished and sock started; maybe now I can think about which clothing I want to bring. I hit a slight snag when I started the new sock: I was going to use one of the new sets of needles that I got at Rhinebeck, but as I was knitting, the second needle snapped in my hand. I've never had that happen before! I broke a needle once in my purse, before I found the protective tubes, but never in my hand. Guess that's a strike against that set! I had just been thinking how flexible they felt when it snapped. Flexible, fragile, one of those words. Back to the Knitpicks ones, which may not be the sharpest, but are clearly winners in sturdy, even in 2mm.

Anyway, I was very glad Thursday afternoon that I had started the sock in the morning, for it turned out that I had a lot of unanticipated knitting time. Our office holiday party was in the afternoon--remember how I thought it was odd, that the time was set for 1:30 to 4:30, at a restaurant? What else would we be doing besides eating, I wondered? Games or something? Because it's not like a meal takes three hours, right?

Well. I had never gone out for fondue before, so now I know that yes, it can take three hours, or more, for a meal. We were actually there longer! We all arrived from 1:30 to 1:45 or so, and weren't actually eating anything until probably 2:30 (me, who usually eats lunch at 11:30!), and there was cheese fondue and then salads and then meat fondue, and by the time we finished with the dessert course, it was almost 5. Good lord! Have you tried this? Is it normal? (The food wasn't bad, but I prefer to have the restaurant do the work for me, frankly.)

This is not my type of eating: three-plus hours is a lot of casual conversation with people you don't know very well! I mean, the boss may have purposely chosen it so we could get to know each other better, but for me, small talk is a lot of work, and if I hadn't had the knitting to pull out I would have been seriously stressed on top of being hungry. I was at a table with one person I like, one I don't*, and two I don't know very well, one of whom is very quiet and I kept not hearing what she said, and, and, and. Well. Let's say that I was extra tired Friday morning.

*Friday, the same person got a bad case of "I Don't Know What I'm Talking About But I Will Not Stop Talking, No, I'll Just Keep Talking, Where Are You Going, I Was Talking To You" until I was actually grinding my teeth. I had a mental picture of myself walking out to my car and her following me, still talking, as I got in and closed the door.

Off topic but not really: I wonder what kind of evolutionary reasoning might account for why sometimes you like someone as soon as you meet them, and other times you dislike someone for no apparent reason. Is my hind brain trying to tell me something?

So, knitting: I was on the second row before the party started, and then afterward I went to the hairdresser and she was running late, so this is where I got to Thursday night. Zoom!
Goes well with the knitting bag, this yarn. It's Socks That Rock, colorway Lunasea.

Last night, wanting something positive to think about in the midst of all the unthinkable, I remembered seeing the mitten tree that my local library puts up every holiday season, and how I'd thought about whipping out some baby mittens for it. I pulled out some leftover Lion Brand Wool-Ease, and started knitting.
Cute, right? I'd thought of getting one on Carlos's paw, but that isn't his thing. He'll put his paw on me, but prefers not vice versa. I got a quick shot before he could shake it off, though.
It's just about his size, but not his style.
I may have time to do another pair or two this week, but we'll see. At least there's the one. If we do enough small good things, it has to help the balance.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Just ... No Words

I've been shaken all day, since the news started to come out about the school shooting in Connecticut. Any mass shooting is awful, but an elementary school just seems too awful to bear. And just before Christmas, all those lives lost, the families shattered ... there aren't words for how utterly awful it is. I watched the coverage unfolding online, wanting to know why, even while I couldn't imagine any sane reason there could be. Saying "mental illness" feels facile, but what else can you call it? I was hearing the lines from the Boomtown Rats song going through my head:
And they can see no reasons
Cause there are no reasons
Well. Back to the regular drivel tomorrow, I think.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Kia, Though?

There are things to write about, but I'm tired tonight and I can feel the cranky lurking, so I will leave it for tonight. But here's something quick: would you expect to see a Playboy fan driving a Kia?
For some reason, I was surprised.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Short Takes

I've been motoring along on my purse sock this week. I really wanted to finish it before Christmas, because traveling with a just-started sock is preferable to bringing an almost-finished sock (AND a just-started sock). I got a few stripes done at stitch and bitch Monday night, and at my alternate knitting group tonight, I finished it. Check! Pictures to come.

*****
For a flight that departs at 6 AM, wouldn't you think getting to the airport an hour before departure would be enough time? The airline's website says 90 minutes to 2 hours, but surely the airport isn't going to be THAT crazy that early? I find it hard to believe.

*****
I don't leave for another week and a half, and yet somehow I already miss Carlos. I wish I could magically bring him with me. When will teleportation be made available to the public?

*****
There was an article in the Globe this morning, which I only partly read, about how UMass Amherst football, which apparently is now playing at the Patriots' stadium (who knew), has not been drawing the crowds they expected. As I read the beginning of the story, I was thinking it wasn't surprising that fewer people were willing to go to Foxborough (a two-hour drive) than to the stadium on campus, and if I skimmed it right, the numbers went down from near 14,000 to over 10,000, which is a drop, I know, but not all that shocking to me. (On closer reading, it seems that they expected more alumni, who tend to live in the eastern part of the state in higher numbers, to come to games. I repeat, who knew?)

The story lost me, though, when they mentioned something about how, en route to a 1-11 record, the team blah blah blah. Hey, did it ever occur to you that more people might go to games if they were playing better? Radical thought, I'm sure. One and eleven?

*****
The NHL cancelled games through December 30. I really felt the truth of an analogy that Justin Bourne used on Backhand Shelf recently, regarding the NHL lockout shenanigans: the "fans are being used as children would be in a messy divorce". Yes, and what a mess it is.
 
*****
A co-worker was reading a message from his landlord about problems with their water: "...we are hoping to have it restored as soon as possible." No. Wrong. Either "we are hoping to have it restored soon" or "we will have it restored as soon as possible". Not in between.

*****
In a report I recently edited at work, the writer confused "overtime" and "over time". People may work overtime, but drugs work over time... (On the other hand, correctly using "burgeoning paradigm shift" gains points, so to speak.)
 
*****
Favorite quote in a recent NPR story: "Wajeeh Nuseibeh is the church's doorkeeper. In another twist, he is a Palestinian Muslim, whose family has opened and closed the church's heavy wooden doors every day for the past 1,300 years." Blows my mind.
 
*****
Why is that I can be totally understanding of a person not being a hockey fan, or even of being a hockey fan around here but not being a Bruins fan, but if they're a Montreal Canadiens fan, it's suddenly much harder to deal with?
 
*****
I'm no longer carrying water to work. When it was time to replace the water filter in the drinking-water spigot, the person doing it discovered that it had been installed wrong somehow; I don't know the details, just that where it used to take 30+ seconds to fill a glass, it now takes less than five seconds. Boom! I still think it tastes a little flat, but not bad exactly, and I expect I'll get used to it.
 
 *****
The Ott bulb came today. At first I thought it didn't work, but I played with it a little and voila! I can see!

*****
I didn't think I'd really lost much of any weight, but today I kept having to pull my trousers up, so maybe I have lost a little. Not a lot! But a little.

*****
I have to go now: the Bruins are about to win the Stanley Cup, and I'd like to watch. Plus, typing with a Carlos draped over my arm is only fun for so long...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Biking and Knitting and All

The bike sock reached the heel last night. Since I keep track of my minutes on the bike, I can state with certainty that it took almost exactly five hours of knitting to get to the start of the heel. Kind of fun to know! (At least for me; if you disagree, I doubt I could convince you otherwise.) My general rule of thumb is that this portion of a sock is about 40% of the whole (20% being around the heel, and the remaining 40% the foot and toe), which would make it 12.5 hours for the whole sock, but I am interested to see if strict counting confirms that.

I suppose it's sad that my strongest motivation for riding the bike is that I want to know exactly how long it takes me to knit a sock, just out of curiosity, but whatever works. Maybe by the time the sock is done, the riding habit will feel more natural. And to quote an apt comment (on Mir's post at Feel More Better/Off Our Chests today, which I practically could have written myself), "the reason you start to exercise is not nearly as important as the reason you continue to exercise."

I'm not certain I'll be able to do the entire heel while riding. I did cast on from the couch, before this sock officially became the bike sock; that part's a little fiddly, and I didn't want to screw up my count at the start. The heel flap shouldn't be a problem, and even the turn, but I may need to be sitting and not cycling to pick up stitches. We'll see. It will certainly be easier when the new Ott bulb arrives; I need better light.

In other bike-related news, when I rode it on Saturday, my quads were more than usually painful; I managed just five minutes at a time, albeit twice, when usually I can manage at least ten straight. When I tried again Sunday night, it was even worse, which I found puzzling, and I got off after three minutes in great pain and frustration. I mentioned it to a friend at work, and she asked if I was stretching first, which I hadn't been. I mean, I've been biking for six weeks, I don't expect any changes to be for the worse! But I tried stretching before riding last night, and was able to do six minutes, and then seven more a little while later, so it seems to have helped. But really, isn't exercising supposed to make me more fit, not less? I really do hate riding the stupid bike.

*****
Are you ready for tomorrow? I really want to write the date on things: 12/12/12, it means the same thing to everyone! No possible confusion! Oh, and the world might end, if the Mayan calendar ending* wasn't just the result of a short attention span. Which sounds plausible to me: Oh, this is good enough. I want to start that new project already. Let the kids work on this, or their kids; it isn't going to be my problem...
*I know, I don't really understand the whole thing, and that's the 21st and not the 12th anyway. Whatever.

*****
I am regretting that the late fall to winter weather change means not eating my lunch outside. All through the summer, I enjoyed eating at a picnic table outside, then reading or knitting for the rest of the hour. Sometimes I would run an errand, but generally the time was spent relaxing, away from the office, and the break was nice.

Since the weather started deteriorating, though, I have taken to eating at my desk, an unwelcome event in many ways: some people will come over and ask about work things when I'm eating, which I think is rather rude if it isn't urgent (which it never is; editors are more often stet than stat), plus I rarely end up taking the full hour, because my work is right there, catching my eye. Unfortunately, there isn't anywhere I can go indoors that is comparable to sitting at a picnic table outdoors. There are plenty of places I can eat if I buy there, but bringing my own food somewhere that sells it is a little questionable (even the food court at the mall--it would feel weird to unpack my own lunch there, you know? plus the noise is a bit much). I guess I could go sit in the lobby, where there are a few chairs, but it isn't the same.

Last week I did manage to run lunchtime errands on three days, so that got me out of the office a bit. On Tuesday there was an errand I wanted to run, and going to that store after work would lead to a nightmare of traffic-related proportions (any time of year, thanks to rush hour, but especially this close to Christmas), so I managed to make myself do it at lunch, when it was much easier. Wednesday I got that headlight replaced and ran to the post office. Thursday I walked over to the mall, and though I didn't find what I wanted, still, points for trying.

Today, seeing that the sun was shining, I stepped outside after eating, to feel the sun on my face. Unfortunately, between the chilly weather and the sun that was (at noon) barely high enough in the sky to clear a three-story building, I didn't really feel it. Credit for trying?

Monday, December 10, 2012

An Unexpected Development in Christmas Prep

I got so much done this weekend, I frankly amazed myself. What I can accomplish when I'm not flattened by a migraine! I did have some head twinges Saturday afternoon, in fact, but it never got bad. When I noticed it getting dark last night I felt a brief moment of sadness that I was running out of weekend time, but then I saw that it was only 4:30 (curse you, winter), which at least meant I managed to get a fair bit more done before bedtime.Such as? Well, in no particular order:
  • laundry, Friday night and again Sunday (two weeks worth)
  • made haystacks, as mentioned
  • had a good time at the Latke Party
  • knit, also as mentioned (while watching Another Thin Man, Finding Nemo, and Love, Actually over the course of the weekend)
  • vacuumed
  • washed dishes, and more dishes, and more dishes (see haystacks above, and soup below)(plus, one does keep eating)
  • made soup
  • ran the dishwasher
  • washed Grandma's shawl, then wrapped it and my aunt's presents and boxed them to mail
  • wrapped a few remaining presents
  • put the rest of the roll of pretty (to look at) but thin and annoying (to work with) wrapping paper in the recycling (no way am I storing that all year only to curse it again in 2013; life is too short)
  • balanced the checkbook (and may I say, ouch, those vet bills right before Christmas, ow)
  • rode the bike, though not for long--not even as long as I've been managing, which isn't all that long anyway. My quads were killing me for some reason, speaking of ow. I have to try stretching and see if that will help, because holy hell, that hurt.
Did anyone catch what was NOT on that list? Right: buying a Christmas tree. And that's because I decided not to get one. I know, after I specifically said I wanted to get one this year! I had planned to get one on Saturday, but I realized when I woke up that I wasn't feeling at all excited about it, just dutiful. And really, duty to who? I live alone, no one cares if I get a tree or not. If the idea fills me with not just vague pleasure but weariness and resignation, well, why do it? Why spend the time and the money on something just because I thought I wanted to? Or I feel like I ought to? Perhaps this will give added impetus to my plan or re-working the office, to make more room for next year. The right decision for me this year.

Meanwhile, I put up stockings and other decorations, and now I have nothing more serious than cards left on my Christmas-related schedule for the next week and a half, and that feels remarkably good, I tell you.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Updates and pictures and all

First, a blanket story
Two years ago, my cousin gave me a blanket for Christmas that was so soft, I believe I gasped as I unwrapped it. You've seen this blanket in countless cat-on-the-bed photos, the red-and-black plaid with a cream backing
It's not necessarily a look I would have chosen, to be honest, but once I touched it, well, that didn't matter one bit. Both sides are super-soft, and while of course with time and use, the initial miracle of softness has worn off somewhat, the blanket has stayed on the bed.

I was in Building 19 last week when another blanket caught my eye: though the look and the name weren't the same, something about the way that it was packaged took me right back to when my blanket was new, and I reached out a hand to touch this one. Oh my! Amazing, super-silky softness. And though it is even less "me" than the red-and-black one, I didn't hesitate a minute before picking it up and taking it home. Which is why you will soon be seeing this look in cat-on-the-bed photos from now on.
Yes, tiger stripes. Interestingly, it isn't "constructed" exactly the same as the other one. That one is, by feel, one blanket with different material on each side, while this one feels like two blankets attached at the edges. You can see in that picture how the top "slid" to the side when I got off the bed. Not that I care. If you could only touch it, you would understand. It was so hard to get out of bed and leave it to go to work the first morning.

Next, snack stories one and two
On the same trip to Building 19, I found a little snack that I brought in to work.
That they felt the need to say both "bitesize" and "mini" tickled my funny bone. It amused me further when I noticed the language they used to describe the contents; I knew at once that this wasn't American.
For a country with such an obesity problem, we do not like to admit that fat is involved with cookies! Vegetable fat coating, indeed. One of my coworkers admitted that she wished I hadn't pointed it out to her ... but she still ate some. They were really good.

Tomorrow I'm bringing in haystacks. I went to search my blog records for previous mentions of them, and found that when I blogged about them two years ago, I didn't even mention their name! True, they are Christmas candies to me, but come on, ccr, haystacks! As I said in that entry, you can make them any size you want, but I think that it's nice, if you're bringing them for a group, to have them in something like a mini-muffin liner, and when you're offering them to those who haven't had them before, might as well make them small, so it's a bite to try.

Thus, I found these (at Building 19):
And are they small! It's a pain to fill them, to be honest, but they're nice and tidy.
I made some yesterday, and took them to a Latke Party (since they are, in truth, nondenominational). And I made more today, for taking to work tomorrow. (And do I ever need to stop eating them now, ergh. They're so addictive. Get on the bike, already.)

Then, the state of knitting, finished and started
I'm sure you all recall the knitting problem I mentioned recently, running out of yarn, and trying to decide how to handle it, so let me update you now. I had planned to go with option 2, but after letting it sit for a few days (and longer than I had intended, given the migraine weekend*), I went with option 3 after all.
*I wish my life had not taught me to build extra time into schedules for time lost to migraines, but unfortunately I've learned that one pretty thoroughly.

Just going with the gut, and that was what felt right. Here it is, blocking:
You can see that ends are not identical. Oh well.

Now, do you realize what it means, that this is done? I could start a knitting project for myself! Yay for selfish knitting. I mean, I've got socks going, duh, but it will be fun to work on something bigger. I pondered deeply about what's next, particularly given all that I've got going on in the next few weeks, which means that I don't want to challenge myself too much, and also taking into account plane knitting (which may end up being socks, but there's contemplation to be done). So many choices!

In the end, though, as I showed yesterday, I picked up that splurge mink yarn from Rhinebeck and cast on. I have three repeats done now.

I'm loving it. And lace is practically as good as socks, in terms of portability, so it should make fine plane knitting. Less than two weeks to Christmas travel!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Extra Exercise Ouch

My exercise program has had its first casualty, and the only good thing to say about it is that no harm was done to my own body, beyond the "harm" that exercising itself brings. I've been swinging the Ott light over to illuminate my knitting when I ride, and the other night I apparently left it badly balanced. I had gone into the bedroom when I heard a crash, and found that the lamp had fallen over, ejecting the bulb in the process. Wait, there's something else good I can say about this: the bulb did not smash and make a nasty mess all over. However, it certainly broke within, as it no longer works, and I've ordered a replacement.

I miss having such good light! Particularly as I started a new project last night. Here it is after the first repeat:
Fairly simple pattern, for lace. It's called California Dreamin', and is by the same designer as my favorite sock pattern.
The yarn is my Rhinebeck splurge, the mink lace-weight from Grinning Gargoyle. It's a dream to work with so far.

As I was on the second repeat, Bunny pointed out that it was the perfect size for someone already.
But sadly for him, I'm going to be selfish on this one. Sorry, bunny!

I'll close with a little seasonal whimsy, hockey style (thank to Puck Daddy for the link--who else?). The minor league team the Toledo Walleye have done a video to the Drifters classic White Christmas, and it's so bad it's great. (Seriously: the Toledo Ballet helped them with choreography! But they are still hockey players...) Enjoy!


Thursday, December 06, 2012

Throwing In a Little Hockey

Things you need to know to appreciate the video:
  • Phil Kessel used to play for the Bruins.
  • He was a very skilled player.
  • His attitude, however, was not very Bruins-like, being more of the hey, I'm trying hard enough, whatever, than the whatever it takes school. (Paging Joe Thornton...)
  • After a few years of loafing around whining, he became a free agent. During free agency, he dug in his heels, and in the end was traded to Toronto.
  • In return, the Bruins got draft picks that became promising young players Dougie Hamilton and Jared Knight, and most especially Tyler Seguin, who broke in with the Bruins as an 18-year-old two years ago and made quite an impression during the Cup-winning season. (He's tearing up the Swiss league these days, sigh.)
  • Enough so that when the Maple Leafs came to town in 2010 and Seguin scored his first NHL goal, the crowd expressed their appreciation to Phil for demanding that trade. By chanting, "Thank you, Kessel!"
And now a Bruins fan who owns a horse, a horse that races in Toronto, mind you, has named that horse ... ThankYouKessel.

No, really. How awesome is that? Thanks for the link and the story, Puck Daddy.

My favorite part of that video may be when the announcer calling the race pronounces ThankYouKessel in the same sing-song way that the crowd at the Garden did.

Oh, what, you want something more holiday-related than hockey, particularly since the NHL isn't even playing right now? And don't even talk about this week's negotiations, don't get me started, they're just messing with me, and even if they do get it together, how weird will that be? I was saying to someone at work just today that, should the NHL get its shit together and manage to provide at least part of a season this year, it will be really weird to watch games and not know what's going to happen. The Bruins won last night--I knew they would! What's more, they're going to lose tonight (notice me blogging while the game is on in the other room), but win the next two! I just know it! How can I go back to reality? How, I ask you, how can I possibly?

Don't answer that. Here, let's compromise. Hockey meets Christmas as Shawn Thornton, Bruins tough guy extraordinaire, recites Twas the Night Before Christmas with the Boston Pops.

Kind of fun for the season, right? I like how Lockhart puts his baton away rather than appear to threaten Thornton with it.

I've had a problem recently with watching videos on my home computer. I feel like it might be easier to diagnose the problem if they just wouldn't play at all, but instead they won't play on blogs or in Reader, which they used to, but if I click over to YouTube, I can watch them there just fine. Weird, right? I imagine it might have something to do with my old, increasingly creaky computer*, which I think will need replacing in the new year. I'm contemplating getting a laptop this time, not so much for carrying around with me outside the house, but for flexibility in the house. For instance, in terms of my office re-do, a laptop would mean I could have the computer set-up at the narrow end of the room without having to figure out wiring issues (since the internet control box is near the door). Though I'm told one can get a thingy that would allow the desktop to connect wirelessly ... perhaps my IT guy** and I will have time over Christmas to discuss my options.
*I only bought it in May 2007, after all...
 **Hello, brother! See you in two weeks-ish!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Quick: Head, Twins, Irony

Last night I was all productive, wrapping and boxing and cheering the Bruins (who won 8-1, thank you, and I happen to know that they win three of the next four games, too!), and the head was fine, and I was mildly amazed at how much more I get done without a headache (duh). In the night, I was somewhat aware of head pain, but it didn't wake me until 5, when OW OW OW. I took Excedrin and alka-seltzer, wailed and moaned briefly, then slept for another hour and woke up feeling better (rather to my own surprise: since when does that work on the bad ones?). I felt slightly light-headed on and off this morning, though, which was disconcerting. Now I'm feeling the cramps, which is not disconcerting, but isn't pleasant either. 
 
Ah well. I had dinner at a friend's house tonight--remember my friend who had twins? They're five now (I know! I know!), and in kindergarten and are reading and all sorts of ridiculousness. Who told them they were allowed to get so big? I was there to lend my friend some knitwear for a Christmas concert she's singing in: hats and scarves and mittens on loan, I feel like a museum! It's nice to be appreciated, anyway.

I'm off to watch the end of the Bruins game. I'll leave you with this:

Two Signs That the Universe Has a Sense of Humor
I brought my car in for an oil change Saturday morning, so I was shall-we-say displeased Monday night to turn on my headlights and discover that one of them had blown. Very funny, ha ha. Nice timing I don't think! This car eats headlights, honestly. Still, I don't work that far from the shop, and today I went over at lunch and they put in a new one for me, no problem. Then I got in my car, turned it on, and the radio came on ... playing One Headlight. Proof that the universe has a sense of humor, indeed.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Brief Weird Cat Story (in LOLs)

I've been a busy little elf tonight, and am now happy to go watch the Bruins rerun on TV; it's ridiculous how excited I can get about a game from 18 months ago, but hey, the Bruins are winning and the crowd is excited and yay, you know?

So here's all I have for you. Last night, I was reminded of this:
Except that Carlos does not think it's false advertising. Yum! he said. I would like another.

Kind of like this, except with pizza-flavor goldfish:
 Weirdo.

Monday, December 03, 2012

An Ow but not Super-uber-ultra-OW Day

Happily, thankfully, whatever-fully, when I woke up this morning, my head was better. Not perfect, with that frail after a bad one feeling*, but not painful, and after the preceding, oh, 40 hours or so, that was enough to make me happy, even on a Monday morning. There were twinges during the day (of course), and even enough that I decided to have a quiet evening at home instead of going to stitch and bitch, but overall, there's nothing like having just had a terrible headache to make you grateful for just a minorly annoying one.
*Sore brain, skull, muscles, scalp, eye sockets...you're jealous, aren't you, of my exciting life?

This bout does seem to confirm that acupuncture has not helped my headaches, as I already suspected. After last week's session, I did not make another appointment: Christmas is too busy, I told her, and it's true, my time is at an even higher premium this month than others, but of course, if it was helping, I'd find the time. I'm still on the herbs she suggested, and will give that through the end of the year, but after that, I guess it's time to try something new. Chiropractor, maybe? I don't have that many ideas.

One nice thing did happen tonight, though it didn't start that way. In today's mail I received communications from my health insurance about the blood test I had recently, in relation to the idea of a pre-existing condition. (What would the pre-existing condition for a blood test be, I wonder? Having blood? Because yes, I had blood before I was on this insurance, I admit it.)  The letter was not fully comprehensible to me (and not just because of the part that said [I will spare you the all-caps style] "We apperciate your help with this matter"), so I called, and the (very, very nice) woman I spoke with told me that I needed to send them a "letter of credible coverage" from my previous insurer, which would show the effective dates for my previous coverage and prove that there wasn't a gap (which there wasn't, of course, I paid enough for that between jobs). As I wrote it all down, I mentioned how much I hate being an adult, and she agreed.

After I hung up, I was a little upset at the idea of having another Thing To Do, particularly since getting something from an insurance company seemed unlikely to be easy, and having just lost three-quarters of my weekend, I was already behind on Things To Do, plus my head still hurts and why, whyyyyyyyy meeeeeeee...! I pulled out of the doom spiral by petting the kitty, then sucked it up and went to look for the contact info for my previous insurance. My filing at home tends to be very messy, with a folder at the front of the drawer with things I didn't bother to put where they belong, or I don't know where they belong, or oh just stuff it in there papers. I pulled that out and started looking through it, and guess what?

The very first paper I found related to my previous health insurance was a Certificate of Credible Coverage. Exactly what I needed. Wow. I made a copy, stuck it in an envelope, and it's ready to mail. Whew! I needed that.

And now I need to have my quiet evening. I'll leave you with this list of a few things that have struck me lately.

Is It Just Me?
  • I know it's 2012 already, and near the end of it to boot, but does anyone else read "turn of the century" and think of 19th to 20th instead of 20th to 21st?
  • I passed a funeral home and saw it had put garland and ribbon on its sign. Usually I'm a fan of decorating for the holidays, but a funeral home? No.
  • I was looking on a health-forum website and saw one person who said that he "sweats like a lizard". How do you think a lizard sweats? 
  • Am I the only knitter who finds this a little insulting? when someone asks me if I knit something I'm wearing, and when I say yes, all they say is, "Oh." You don't have to go into raptures, but why did you ask? Could you make it sound like you asked because you liked it? You think it's pretty, or might have been hard to make, or something positive? Otherwise, the exchange falls flat, and I'm left feeling that you asked because you couldn't imagine why else I would be wearing such a thing.
  • My office is having a holiday party, which is nice and all, but it's being held at a restaurant, and the time is 1:30 to 4:30. Wouldn't you normally pick a meal time to have a party in a restaurant, rather then in-between meals?
What about you: do you have any "is it just me" moments in mind?

Sunday, December 02, 2012

No Choice

In a recent conversation about our headaches, my mothers and I agreed that it's frustrating when people say to us, "I don't know how you stand it," because it's not like we have a choice: when you have a headache, you have a headache.

More than 24 hours into this one, I'd love to choose not to stand having it. Tell me how to do that, please.

Ow, ow, owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww...

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