Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Whoa. Swimmy.

I am fried tonight, people. Brain has ceased functioning. I am going to get ready for bed now.

But here, watch the manatees. The sounds is kids saying cute things about manatees, but even silent, it's pretty nice.

Children Love Manatees from Owen Richard Kindig on Vimeo.

Soothing.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Of Head, Bad and Hopeful

The bad news is that my head is bothering me tonight, and work is total month-end crazy this week. The hopefully good news is that I had a first meeting with a chiropractor tonight, then went off for x-rays so he can see just where my spine needs work. Maybe! Hopefully! Fingers crossed!

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Go Bruins!

The Bruins play four times this week, which is a lot for hockey. They're in Carolina tonight (currently leading 2-1 in the second), come home for a game tomorrow, then play again Thursday and Saturday. At which point I expect they will be giving thanks to play only twice next week! I'm off to watch the rest of the game, and pretend that it isn't snowing outside.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Further Thought for the Office Project

I haven't talked about my office project recently, but that doesn't mean I've forgotten it. Measuring things is on my to-do list! And in fact, my plans and ideas are still evolving, as I recently started to consider moving the desk that I have in the kitchen into the office instead.

The desk is one I got at the Salvation Army store when I lived in Charlotte: it cost me $50, I had to borrow a friend's truck to get it home, and it's a solid piece that I like. It isn't deep enough to be a good computer desk, or it wasn't when I got it, given the way monitors were then; I suppose it might work better these days, or with a laptop. When I moved into my current home, the best place for it was in the kitchen, as it fits nicely on the wall between the hall door and the office door. See?

Fun fact: I hung that picture there as soon as I moved in, because there was a picture-hook already on that wall, and I wanted to put the picture up out of harm's way. It fits the space nicely, doesn't it? School picture from the year I was in boarding school in England, between high school and college.
See me?

Anyway, back to the project! As you can see, the desk has a lot of Stuff on it. I do legitimately use it for storing various things, but very little of it actually has to be in the kitchen, and any empty spaces are what you might call Random Crap Magnets. So I'm considering it as a potential move item. Thoughts and ponders!

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Helpful Entertainment Tip

If you have invited friends over, and don't feel like cleaning the stove-top even though it really, really needs it, may I suggest this?
Cover the top with a couple of clean dish cloths, and put out silverware, dishes, glasses, and if you have it, a bucket of clementines. The dirty stove will be hidden and your guests distracted. Works like a charm!
Truth in advertising, even.

This has been your tip for the day.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

It's No Wonder

Given the events of the last two days, which include:
  • Big boss and several dozen others invade office, including many Outgoing! and Noisy! sales people.
  • Requirement for wearing grown-up work clothes, due to above.
  • Bitter, miserable, below-zero-with-windchill weather.
  • You can get this done by the end of the month, right? And this? And this? How about one more? It isn't even 300 pages!
  • My period. 
  • With cramps. 
  • And with so many people in the office, where I sit about as far from the door as one can get, no subtle running to the bathroom during presentations, but having to wait for breaks.
Well, it's no wonder I bought ice cream at the grocery store tonight.

Really, after working until 6:30 (once the blessed peace descended, I kept going until my eyes crossed), it's a wonder that I made myself get groceries tonight!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Brief Update

Today did not start auspiciously, unless you count cramps and cleaning up cat vomit from the carpet. I don't count either as the start of a good day, myself, but actually the whole day wasn't continually awful. Just loud and overstimulating and whew, no thank you to happy hour, not even on the boss's dime, going home instead. That's what happens when you double the occupancy of the office and, during breaks in presentations, suddenly have 30+ conversations break out. Waaa! Driving home, I decided that it felt like a centipede had been dancing on my brain.

OK, sorry. I'm probably not ready to be here, am I? But the Bruins game starts at 7:30, so it's now or never. And I wanted to let you know that I survived. There won't be quite as many people in the office tomorrow, so maybe it won't be quite as exhausting.

I hope.

Meanwhile, I wonder if I will be able to stay awake for the whole game? I sure want to ... but can I? Given how tired I am now?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Quandry

I'm trying to decide what to wear to work tomorrow. The outfit needs to handle these circumstances:
  • Grown-up level professional, in honor of the big boss
  • Outside temperatures from a low of 5 to a high of 15. That's F, not C, by the way!
  • PMS
Hmm. That's a challenge, all right.

Did I have this twitch in my eye before?

Monday, January 21, 2013

End of Long Weekend, Lots of Random

Recently I've scribbled notes on things I wanted to blog about, here and there, and then not had time to post them. The problem is that once I've written something down, I feel like I've blogged about it, and I get confused. So here's a bunch of unrelated stuff; the only common thread is me (scary thought). Have fun!

It's been a good weekend. Hockey (ahhh), and not just hockey but promising hockey, two Bruins wins, ahhhh; lots of reading; sufficient accomplishment in the laundry/dishes/tidying areas that I don't feel guilty; knitting; Carlos. January marks some feline anniversaries here. This year is three years since I got Carlos, and four since I got Miri. It's funny how different those two feel, isn't it? Four whole years putting up with Miri, and only three years of loving Carlos.

*****
I'm thinking of doing more cooking in the crock pot. I want to sit down at some point and decide what changes to try for beef stew next time, and may I add, it will not include paprika! I was a little hesitant to add it last time, but when I do a new recipe for the first time, I like to follow it pretty faithfully. Saying, "I took this recipe except I did x, y, and z instead of a, b, and c, and I didn't like it" seems like an unfair reaction to a recipe, if you know what I mean. Anyway, I did add the paprika as the recipe called for, and when I ate the stew that night I was surprised, if pleasantly, that I didn't even notice it. Funny, right? But then with leftovers I really could taste it, and not in a way I liked. I don't understand why the flavor came out more in reheating, but whatever, no paprika in the stew for me, moving on.

Before I do Stew Take 2, though, I wanted to try something different, and on googling for slow cooker recipes, I was intrigued by the idea of lasagna in the crock pot. The first recipe I saw was actually one with pesto, mushrooms, and spinach, and while I am a big fan of the first, not so much of the second and third, so I kept looking. I found a couple of possibles, and then mentioned it to a friend at work who told me that another woman at work has a recipe she swears by. So I got that from her, and went grocery shopping. And it's good! I've made it twice already, in fact, and am making it again next weekend when I have friends coming over. It's pretty easy, and tastes good: I call that a keeper.

*****
I had a really good idea the other day, if I do say so myself, and was pretty bummed when I realized it wouldn't work out. I don't even remember the thought process that led me to it, but somehow I put together the idea of buying a Nexus 7 (small tablet [computer crossed with a phone]), which I plan to do, and the idea of wanting a case for it, with the idea of having a cover that looked like a "real" book, with the memory that I have a book that was mis-bound and is therefore useless. Wouldn't that be too cool, a book I loved getting another life that way? Alas, it is slightly too small to make a case for the N7. I'm still considering getting a book-case for the machine, when the time comes, and even found a company that will make a case from a book you send them, as opposed to ones that will make them out of books they have (since I don't want to carry a title I haven't read or don't like). I'll see what I can find that will fit the size needed.

I wish I could come up with another use for that copy of T. Tembarom, though. It's bigger than I'd need for the MP3 player ... maybe the GPS? But that's more trouble than it's worth, I think. Sigh. Googling shows me people making old books into clocks and purses, but neither of those appeal to me. Shame, really. It was such a good idea.

*****
I'm not the most militant reduce-reuse-recycle person, but I do recycle a lot of things,and I try to be aware. For instance, when given a choice, I try to choose things with minimal packaging, but sometimes the best way comes with more packaging, and I am at peace with that. For instance (you knew there was a for instance coming, right?), I happen to like eating dried plums, since I like the flavor and they're a pretty healthy snack. I eat them a lot, so I want to buy a package that isn't the smallest size, but it annoyed me when they start to dry out before I finish the package. Also, it's hard to bring them to work, because they are sticky by nature, and it all gets complex, wah wah wah, first world problem.

Enter individually wrapped dried plums. Packaging fail, but consumer win! They stay fresh, they travel easily, I don't get my fingers all sticky eating them: win all around. Thank you, Sunsweet! (This was not a paid review, though if they want to send me some for free, or even a coupon, I'd be delighted.)

I know this knowledge has thrilled you. This is why you read my blog, right? I knew it.

*****
The microwave at work beeps when the food is done, naturally, and then if no one opens the door, it beeps again about once a minute. Which means you're sitting and working and BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP what was I thinking about? Oh, right, the incidence of MS in 5 EU countr BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP all right, deep breath, MS in 5 EU countries, by 2022 rates are forecast to be BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP oh for the love of Pete, whose is that? Go get your lunch! I don't understand how some people don't notice things that drive other people insane.

And that's how I react when I don't have a headache.

*****
As of Friday, two weeks after the end of the holidays, My Least Favorite Coworker was still coughing, which I really hope she'll have finally gotten past over the weekend. You don't have to tell me that she must be more sick of doing it than I am of listening to it, but man, is it annoying to work with someone who coughs and clears her throat All Day Long.

If she's still doing it this week, on top of the rest of the joys of this week ... we're having meetings in the office this week, I guess people from the NY office and who knows who else are coming, and since one of the "who else" is the big boss, we were told to dress up on Wednesday and Thursday. Which I don't quite understand ... he's the big boss, and he has to know ours is a business-casual office, right? And if he didn't want it to be one, he has the power to change that. So why do we pretend, when he's in town, that we wear suits and stuff? It doesn't quite make sense to me. But really I'm crabby because there's supposed to be a lot of work coming to editorial for January publication, and I don't know how much work I'll be able to get done for those two days. The whole situation has a high irritation potential. I'm glad to have had this pleasant weekend, but it may not help me too much as the week progresses.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Of Knitting, Christmas and Otherwise; Cute Animals, Too

Hey, I never went into any detail about Christmas knitting, did I? That was because I was making something for my mother, and wanted it to be a surprise. In fact, the shawl I made for my grandmother was the same pattern, which is why I mentioned that but never went into detail. Time for detail!

I got the yarn for my mother's shawl at Coveted Yarn in Gloucester (love that store). The first one was from a local dyer, Toil and Trouble in Salem; the colors caught my eye, and the softness kept my attention. Then I found some Malabrigo in a complementary rose pink, which I thought would go nicely. I had a shawl in mind, a vague idea of a little shoulder covering for the cooler nights on the lanai when you just want a little something. Shortly, my search brought me to the pattern Piper's Journey, which intrigued me enough to pay for it--only $5, but there are so many good free patterns out there that I don't often pay for one. I was intrigued by the construction of this shawl, though, and I'm glad I decided to try it.

One factor in most shawl patterns is the need to either cast on a lot of stitches to start, or bind off a lot of stitches at the end. Then there are some patterns that also require picking up a lot of stitches at some point, and having just done that with the Bigger on the Inside, I was not eager to do that again! Piper's Journey is simple, though: you cast on just a few stitches, then knit along increasing every other row. It's simple garter stitch, so that part is excellent social knitting, and at least in the yarn I chose, the occasional oops is not very visible (ahem).

When the shawl is wide enough, you cast on a few more stitches at the end (this is where I switched to the other yarn, but you could certainly do it in the same; I just liked the multi for the garter section and the solid for the patterned border), then start the border pattern. You're continuing on the 18 stitches you just cast on, but every two rows you pull one of the live stitches from the shawl body into a decrease, so you end up using them all up along the way, until you finish by binding off those 18 stitches and boom, done! Very neat.
I was still smitten when I finished Mum's, and since my grandmother had admired it in progress in October, I decided to make her one for Christmas. It went fine too (other than the little running out of yarn issue, ahem ahem), but I felt no lure to cast on another right away, making this a very short jag. I can see making the pattern again one day, though.

The socks are progressing. The second purse sock is just past the heel, as of last night.
And the bike sock is also past the heel, moving down the foot.
I'm loving the California Dreaming shawl in the mink yarn, which is maybe half done. Someone at knitting the other night asked if it was about done and I said God, no! Then had to clarify that yes, it's getting to be a nice size for a small shawl, but I am using every bit of this wondrous yarn, so I'll just keep going and make a big one. I'll have to lay it out sometime, to see how it's looking, but for now, I just keep knitting.

I'm having lots of yarn and knitting thoughts lately, on top of all the things I already want to do "sometime" like the second TARDIS mitt* and TARDIS socks and fiddlehead mittens and sweaters with the yarn I have enough of, and so on (the Ravelry queue, it is not short).
*I think what's held me back on that one is my gut feeling that the first one needs to be redone. What I should do is make the second one the way I want to redo the first, and make sure it works out, before I rip the first one. We'll see.

Other thoughts I've had recently are
  • that it's time to make Grandma's cat a new mouse
  • that I want to look at the pattern for the mitered square blanket, with an eye to starting that after the shawl; 
  • that I want to make some knit cuffs to wear under my gloves to cover the gap at the wrist, and that the leftover yarn from the cashmere socks I love might do very nicely for that (I didn't make those socks tall enough, a lesson I've now learned, but it leaves me with about 25 grams of quite nice yarn sitting around); 
  • about the blue-face leicester yarn I bought at Rhinebeck last year. I've looked at patterns for that before, since I loved the idea of using it in a pattern that has maple leaves. The idea suits the colors so well! But none of the patterns I saw on Ravelry looked right to me. I'm thinking, though, that I could make a basic shawl pattern and incorporate a maple leaf square pattern like this one, and I might just like that! Early days yet on this idea, so we'll see how it progresses, but it's bubbling lightly on the back burner.

Seems like my stove has a lot of burners right now, doesn't it? How many does yours have? Knitting or otherwise.

In conclusion, I bring you some cute animals other than Carlos, for once. I watched the Bruins game at Mary Ellen's last night, and got pictures of her two (cute and friendly) cats, and one of her guinea pigs (didn't get a good photo of the other one, unfortunately).
My favorite: I got out the camera to capture Finnegan's blissed-out expression while he was getting scritched, and instead got the classic "Ooh, what's that?" shot.
I love cats.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hockey in the Background, Reading in the Foreground

You can probably imagine how happy it's making me to have hockey on TV in the background (the Bruins play tonight, but there are other games on this afternoon). I don't have to be watching for them to make me happy; I watched the Kings raise the banner, and then have gone on with my day, happily. The sounds of hockey are far better than the sounds of silence...

On to the point: last week, I mentioned being very excited about getting an advance copy of a new book, in Gail Carriger's new Finishing School series. It's called Etiquette & Espionage, and I'd like to thank the publisher, Little Brown/Hachette, for making the ARC available, so that I was able to read the book several weeks before its release. In fact, I gobbled it up! To quote the back cover:
It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to finishing school.
The Parasol Protectorate series is sci-fi/fantasy, and this series is young adult, set in the same version of the world (aka Victorian England with vampires, werewolves, and ghosts). According to a podcast with the author, it is in fact "about 22 years" before the Parasol Protectorate, and there are some intriguingly familiar characters--I won't spoil it, but it's fun to watch for. Certainly I think you could read FS1 without having read any of the PP, but it adds to the enjoyment if you have.

Speaking of enjoyment, the names! On the first page, our heroine Sophronia refers to Mrs. Barnaclegoose, and we're off. Wodehouse fans have a compatriot in Carriger, and it lends a nice air of the best sort of foolishness to this very enjoyable book.

And now I have to wait until November for the next in the series! Hard life, eh?

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bruins, Scrimmage, Pictures

Last night I was in bed with the light out before 8:30--I was tired! Unfortunately, this great expanse of sleep did not result in me feeling fantastic today, it just prevents me from feeling even worse than yesterday. That's something, I guess, but I can't help wishing for more.

Speaking of more, I have more pictures from the scrimmage Tuesday night. It was so great!
Yes, they are! Thank heavens! Just seeing all the black and gold, all the Bruins fans come out of hiding, flying the flag, was a wonderful feeling. And though we didn't get to the Garden early, we still got great seats, row nine behind the net that Providence defended for the first and third periods. There were two young girls in the row in front of us who weren't all that interested in the game, and two boys, maybe pre-teen, behind us, who were such experts (in their minds), it was hilarious. Between that, and the "fights" and the dance cam, my face hurt from laughing by the end of the game.

Of course I had my traditional hockey game snack, a soft pretzel, mmm. Much to my surprise, the concession stand had salads! I said to the woman that it didn't seem like a hockey item to me, and she said it isn't, they sell maybe one--but more at Celtics games, which idea amuses me. I mentioned that I'd heard that Celtics fans are worse tippers than Bruins fans, and she strongly agreed. Funny!

Get ready, Dobie. You'll be with Boston this season, but for tonight, you're a P-Bruin again.
 Boston in black, Providence in white.
 And we're off!
 I loved having the jumbotron to check the action at the other end, and watch replays on. Not to mention the dance-cam they did between periods. Mostly cute kids bopping to the music, but some people were ... just hilarious.
 

 Even alone in the shot, Chara looks seven feet tall. (He isn't, quite: 6-9.)
 Lucic, with an unfortunately-placed smudge on the glass across his face.
 
 Krejci had an amazing goal later: turn and fire and bam, in!
 
 
 Look, you may be on my farm team, but you will not get that close to my goalie, all right?
  Brad Marchand being interviewed after the second period.
He's casual, super-cool.
 Here comes my boy Patrice to take the face-off.
 Go Bruins!
Wait, a fight? But this is training camp, it's the farm team ... we're playing our own farm team ... why are we fighting our own guys?
And just how did a P-Bruin take down McQuaid? (Stanley Cup of Chowder can tell you how.) I guess even fighting takes practice, eh?
 I look at these pictures ...
 ... and I'm glad I never wanted to be a referee. Duck!
Providence won, 7-5, some guys making a compelling case to stay on the radar for the coaches for the big club. It must be very motivating! After the game, while the Boston players filed off the ice, the P-Bruins did the usual patting each other on the backs thing, then they all went to center ice and waved their sticks at the crowd. So cute! It must have been a dream come true for some of them.

And having the season back is like a dream for me. I bought a Bruins calendar in December, and then could barely stand to look at it until they got their acts together. Now I can look at Mr. January, who is of course Patrice Bergeron. Meant to be, I tell you.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

So Worth It, But So Tired

So tired today. Sooooooo tired. So tired, in fact, that at lunch today I spilled my soup in a giant splash all over my clothes (and floor, and chair, a bit, and even a little on my sock, and I'm lucky it missed going into my snow boots nearby). Good times! I wonder what it's like not to be clumsy. I don't think I've ever made a bigger mess of my food as an adult, at least in the workplace. Fortunately, the soup was no longer so hot that burns were a factor, but as the afternoon went on and it got cold, well, that's an unpleasant feeling. If you were wondering.

Also fortunate, I guess, is I did not end up with a library book coated in bean soup. Which is something, though as the book was what distracted me from exactly where my spoon was, it would have deserved it. (It's a good book. I'll report back after I finish it. Space opera.)

I admit that my thoughts as I cleaned up, beyond the obvious oh, shit, were ruminations on the advisability of getting up after a late night and clearing three inches of snow off the car, just in order to go in and spill food all over myself. Some days.

Anyway, hockey! Bruins! Rare weeknight excursion! Yesterday at work, I told my cube-neighbor that I was going to the game, and she said, "You're going into the city on a weeknight? It's like I don't even know you!" Thus proving that in fact, she knows me pretty well.

It was exhausting, yes, but so much fun! In fact, let me say it this way: So! Much! Fun! It's totally worth a sleepy day and an evening of blog-bike-bed. (If 6:30 didn't seem ridiculously early for bed, I might even have skipped the first two...)

I took some pictures, which I need to go through more carefully so there may be more tomorrow (and there should be more stories because I can't think of any right now and I know there were things I was going to say about it) but here's the sweep of the arena, pretty darn full for the short notice, and almost everyone in black and gold:
That was during the second period, so probably about peak for the crowd. As for the enthusiasm, well, listen to this from the warm-ups:
video

These are my people.

Well, some of them are on the extreme side, but still. Family of sorts.

Man, I'm tired.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

A Cat-Hair-Covered Hockey Story

I am currently doing penance for going to stitch and bitch tonight, meaning I didn't come straight home to Carlos, so I am typing one-handed because the cat is draped, purring, over my left arm. So no extended flights of fancy tonight. But let me tell you this little story.

At knitting tonight I was talking about hockey (because of course I was), and told them I went in to camp yesterday and hey, I'm not the only hockey-crazy person out there! It's easy to forget, but in fact the team is having a scrimmage at the Garden tomorrow night*, and while it's free, you had to get a ticket to get in and they gave them all away today, so that's 17,000+ fans right there.
*They're having a small camp, so they have to bring players up from the farm, and they're hiring refs and everything!

Leaving SnB I checked my phone and it told me I had three text messages. Say what? I looked at the first and what do you know, I may already have won ... yup, junk text, nice.

But the other two messages were from my hockey-fan friend, the one I mentioned yesterday who likes Lucic? Telling me that she got tickets and do I want to go? Well, yeah! So that's where I'll be tomorrow, if you were wondering. Go Bruins!

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Boys Are Back in Town

I thought it was supposed to be at least partly sunny today, and it wasn't at all, but with the temperatures in the high 40s in January, I won't complain too much. What about you, was it nice where you were? Did you get outside?

I did. I went for a nice long walk.

To the subway.

For this:
Yes! It's real! It's really happening! My Bruins are back!

You can imagine how excited I was. Even last night, there was no official word about today, but I got up this morning to learn that they (the players association) finally signed the agreement late last night, so camp could open today, it's free to the public, come on down! And you know I had to. When I walked in to the arena and heard the sounds of hockey, saw the players on the ice, I couldn't stop smiling.
Ten minutes before it officially started, and look how many people were there already! An estimated 1,000 came all told, pretty cool. And these were some hockey-starved people! I've been to training camp sessions before, and am not used to vigorous cheering for contact drills. Or for a chant of "Let's go, Bruins" to break out. Of course, in other years they haven't been giving away popcorn and soda (and hot dogs, but I'm not a big fan of those), or had a long display of free pastries (because hockey and pastries go together like .... well, let's see, like hockey and pastries, i.e., not at all). And in past years, Zdeno Chara has not found a microphone to thank us on behalf of the team for coming.

I took a lot of pictures, most of which are crappy due to the lighting and/or motion. But here are a few anyway, starting with my boy, Patrice Bergeron, on the right, with Seguin and Marchand, in the gold jerseys:
Intent goalie, super-cute small-child fan:
Yes!
My Bruins-loving friend, the one I went to the Cup parade with, loves Lucic the way I do Bergeron. Lucic has broad shoulders, no?
He is intent on the action, as is only right.
Gold line in action.
I don't even know who this is, but this pose, well, it made me think, in very politically-incorrect fashion, of the You Can Play Project. Just saying.
Fight for it, boys!
Lucic coasting between drills.
Good Boston boy Shawn Thornton.
And the Captain, Chara himself.
Group in together, guys.
Dig for it!
Now let's talk about that.
Ahh, it's good to see Bergeron on Garden ice again.
The fans cheered, the players raised their sticks in salute.
Home!
Gold line, preparing.
I stayed until the Zambonis were done. Don't make me leave!
But it's okay. They're back. I have a date Saturday night: don't call me between 7 and 10 unless you want to hear some serious excitement, and not get my full attention.

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