Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The universe, socks, and the coming weekend

Has this ever happened to you: you're cruising along, happy with your life, when the universe decides some balance is called for, and whaps you upside the head with some reality? Perhaps camouflaged as something that looks happy, but that turns out to be hugely stressful?

Me either.


No, it has nothing to do with the sock class. Last week's went well, and I have hopes of a completed sock after this week's class, assuming I survive that long.

I can't go into it now; I'm still firmly in the grip of this, and it's too much for me to be reasonable about right now. Either it will turn happy again, or it will be postponed until my mental health allows me to deal better. I don't know when I'll blog next, as I go out of town Friday night for the long weekend, and I am so not ready for the trip yet (except mentally). Doubt I'll take time for this until I get back. My devoted readers will be waiting eagerly, I'm sure. Happy Labor Day!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

How does my garden grow? Poetically

Are we all familiar with Magnetic Poetry? Words on magnets, moved randomly to create poems of more or less poetic value? I have some at work, and sometimes it saddens me to dismantle the poems, although they are by nature transient. But hey, I can capture them in amber here!

the bloom on the petal vanishes without surrendering

every day the dream is more like a garden growing

I never said I was good at it!

Did you know, by the way, that Magnetic Poetry was invented by a guy with allergies? He had slips of paper cut out to rearrange them, and messed it up every time he sneezed, so he glued them to magnets, and a star was born. I love this story.

I'm actually gardening for real this year; we have a community garden here at the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, and I'm sharing a plot with someone. I planted English cucumbers, green peppers, and catnip, and am pleased with the success. Not bad for a rookie effort, in fact. I've had some funny-shaped cukes, but they taste good, and now the pepper crop is booming. Had some with lunch, in fact. And Pan loves the catnip. Harold just looks at it, then at me, with a nearly-visible thought balloon over his head saying "What?" He likes the dried stuff, but apparently fresh doesn't rock his boat. We're all different, aren't we?

I have my second sock-knitting class tonight, and if I don't post about it afterward (and chances are that I won't), it won't happen tomorrow either: I'm in Boston all day for our annual Sales Meeting. Maybe Saturday.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Five more years! Woo-hoo!

They did it: the Bruins re-signed Patrice Bergeron, to a 5-year contract. I can stop worrying about holdouts: he'll be at training camp. What a relief.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

about feeling those feelings

Laurie's post yesterday got me thinking about my own behavior when I'm feeling bad. Even though I know it's not the healthiest response, I do sometimes get mad at myself for, say, not being able to find something, and demand of the universe why I cannot be more organized. (It's frustrating that my intentions for organization are so much stronger than my follow-through with it. Lots of piles. Lots. Piles.)

After the worst is over, I blow my nose and think about what to do to make myself feel better. This is basically talking myself down off the ledge, and I give myself a better grade here. Sometimes it's action (I'll wash all the dirty dishes, and feel good about the clean counter and sink). Sometimes, it's mental-health restoration, such as a little retail therapy, or reading, or spending time with the cats. They are stress reducers more often than they are stress inducers, bless their little furry hearts. If I'm not home, say at work*, I have photos of them to make me smile and lighten any tension. My computer wallpaper at work right now is good this way:

Isn't he cute? I mean, not that I'm at all partial or biased or anything.

* The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation induces far less stress in me than other places I have worked, as a general rule. My main complaint tends to be how cold it is in the office, and I'm grateful that this is the worst thing I have to complain about. Trust me, I know I have a good life.

Anyway...wait...what was I talking about? Hmmm...well, to summarize What's In My Head lately: the Bruins are reputed to be close to signing Patrice Bergeron, thank heavens; I'm knitting the second legwarmer, it's more than half done; I had a green pepper out of the garden with lunch yesterday; after a disappointing weather day yesterday, today is beautiful. Not bad, really.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I frogged!

Lots to talk about today, boys and girls! Mostly (but not quite all) knitting. To start with the headline item: my first successful frog! I mean, I've frogged before, but only when I was giving up and starting something completely over. This time, I ripped back, picked up all 60 fiddly little stitches, and knit on! It worked!

Okay, non-knitters, I will take pity on you and explain. Frogging is ripping knitting-in-progress out, either partly or completely. You pull the needles out (on purpose!) and pull the yarn out the stitches until you get to the goof. It's easier with some yarns than others. The term comes from the sound of saying "rip-it, rip-it". I have tinked before (tink = knit backwards, where you essentially un-knit), but this is my first real frog. Whew!

It all started with the sock class, which was Thursday night. The class seems promising so far, although the only "new" thing for me in the first class was getting used to how small the needles are. Toothpicks! But I can certainly see that I'll need help when we get to the heel part. One other woman was doing dpns, too, and the others were learning the magic loop method. Boy, whoever invented that must have hated double pointed needles! I can't imagine hating them enough to come up with something so wholly different. It's really creative, but a little scary-looking. I couldn't watch too much without losing track of my own knitting, though, so it's a good thing I don't need to know both.

Anyway, I worked on the sock more last night: Jackie told us that however much we got done before the next class would dictate how tall the sock is, and I don't want an ankle sock! I was knitting away last night, watching tv, when for some reason I thought I would count my stitches to check myself, and oops, I had 31 on the needle that should have had 30.

This baffles me, by the way. I could far more easily see losing one than gaining one. In any case, I looked at the sock and about an inch down, I could see a hole.

Which further baffles me, since I should think a hole would be where a stitch was lost, not found. So much for my understanding of knitting theory. It just goes to show that I can do a thing without understanding it. I accepted that I might have to start the sock from scratch (ouch), but decided to try the frog before giving up. And it worked! I did twist some of the stitches, alas, so they look a little different from the other rows. I like to think of this as a scar, remnant of successful surgery. I'll be able to tell that this was the first sock! I've made up the ripped amount and more, so it's pretty much ready for the heel. I am not interested in trying that without support, pattern in hand to the contrary notwithstanding, so it will wait for Thursday.

In other knitting news, chalk up another finished item: the second sleeve, so now I have a matched set for the office. Sometime, I shall cast on the second legwarmer, but there's a scarf I'm itching to try, so that may come next. Not forgetting the shawls, and of course socks. ADD knitting at its best.

My neighbors have one of those outdoor fireplaces they've been using lately. I don't object to a nice wood fire, but to my mind it belongs to cool/cold weather. To smell wood smoke while I am wearing shorts is somehow highly disconcerting.

I stopped for dinner on the way to the class, and overheard some interesting "conversation" between a woman and her daughter, who looked to be 3 or 4 years old (preschool was mentioned). Was this woman desperate for someone to talk to, or was her daughter really this advanced?

While waiting for their food, the woman suggested that her daughter not eat the ketchup by itself ("Let's not do that, please"), then said, "What would you like to talk about?" This struck me as a little odd for a small child, but okay. I don't have kids, other than the furry kind, so what do I know?

Anyway, the girl was watching me knitting (of course I was knitting), and after I held it up to show her (the sleeve), she asked her mother why I was knitting. Her mother said, "It's a nice creative outlet," and added something about when the girl does her coloring.

A creative outlet? Oh-kay.

P.S. I can't tell you how excited I was that Laurie (the Laurie) commented on my blog. Famous by association! Touched by the uber-blogger! I need a moment; talk amongst yourselves...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation

I figured out the nom de plume (nom de travail?) that I can use in place of my company's actual name. I work in the Marketing Department of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation!

Not a Douglas Adams fan, eh? No matter, I'll explain.

In The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and the other four books in the trilogy (sic), some of the least successful and/or most annoying devices are made by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, including:

* Marvin the Paranoid Android, whose first words are "I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed." Marvin is a GPP prototype (genuine people personality), and he spreads misery like Typhoid Mary, only funny.

* the elevators in the headquarters of the Hitchhiker's Guide, aka "happy vertical people transporters", which can see into the future so they'll be at the floor you are when you want them, and which therefore know the building is about to be highjacked and don't want to take Zaphod up (Have you considered all that 'down' has to offer?).

* the Nutrimatic Drink Synthesizer, which analyses the user's tastes and preferences, then provides a cup of some liquid that is "almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea." Arthur, who really, really wants his tea, tries to argue with the machine and, when told that the drink was formulated to meet his needs, replies, "Ah, so I'm a masochist on a diet, am I?"

The point is (yes, I have a point), there are frequent references to the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation (motto: share and enjoy). Also, the 5 books are available in audio versions, read by Adams himself, which I highly recommend, and over the years I've listened to them so often, I know whole sections by heart (at which times it's good that I don't live with anyone who would be driven mad by my habit of chiming in with the tape; certainly the cats don't care). I have a more audio than visual familiarity with these books.

So, when I started to work here, I found that any mention of "the Marketing Department" would bring an inevitable conclusion to my mind: "of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation". (I have managed not to share this at work yet.) My company has nothing in common with the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, being good and successful, but there we are, my brain makes the association and there's just no stopping it. No hard feelings?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Rules, or maybe guidelines

One of the things I pondered when I began to think about blogging was disclosure, if that's the right word. Revealing my thoughts and feelings is one thing, but my name and address is something else. I'm not trying to keep this blog secret from anyone (though I'm not exactly renting billboard space along the highway either), and that means I have a few ground rules (which I'm making up as I go along) (and have you noticed how much I like parentheses?).

I'm using my initials and general geographic area, not my full name and actual town. Sort of obvious. I don't expect to be blog-stalked, but then who does?

I'm not giving the name of the company where I work, or talking too specifically about what I do, my coworkers, etc. It's not that I'm worried about letting out secrets, but I like my job, and I wouldn't want them to take anything the wrong way. Laurie calls the company where she works "White Guys in Ties", and I'll try to think up something similarly inspired for myself.

There will be no badmouthing anyone I know who might read the blog, or talk to someone who reads the blog, and so on. The "anyone I know" covers me if I feel the urge to dis Martha Stewart or Mel Gibson, just for example (Martha, what was up with that poncho? I'm still not fully over that monstronsity.). Not that I'm going to be Little Miss Sunshine all the time, but still, I don't want to Start Anything. Or hurt any feelings. (I'm a Libra, I like balance and harmony. I don't really believe in astrology and horoscopes, but I still picture that sign of the scales pretty often.) The idea is that if, on a slow news day, the Boston Globe printed something from my blog, I wouldn't want or need to go into seclusion.

So, strangely enough, by these rules I feel free to brag that I've lost 23 pounds over the last year. I'm pretty proud of myself. And by the way, I'm so impressed with my mother, because when I said I had something to tell her and then simply said "23 pounds," she knew what I meant right away. Very quick, she is. And she stays on top of what's important to me.

That's about it for tonight. My allergies are bugging me no end, and I need to get the contact lenses off the itchy eyes, now. Say good-night, Dick.

Good-night, Dick!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

And then we talk knitting

Right now, knitting is my favorite crafty thing. I also crochet and cross-stitch, but in the last few years the "favorite" status has been rotating. Several years ago, cross-stitch was number one; then I got "into" crochet. Now, it's all about the knitting, KIP and all (that's Knitting In Public, for anyone not here primarily for the knitting content, ha ha).

On the needles:

1. Sleeve 2 in blue. I'm knitting sleeves to wear at work in summer, so that if I'm too chilly for a short-sleeved shirt but not chilly enough for a sweater, I can cover just my arms (it's summer, I should be able to wear a short-sleeve shirt!). I based it on a legwarmer pattern from Knitty, which I am modifying to fit (arms) better. The first one, the actual legwarmer pattern, will be a legwarmer (I'm thinking, under boots, to prevent friction when I don't want to wear really tall socks). The next one I did, I added a decrease to improve the fit, and was pleased with the result. Now I am making a friend for it. No Second Sleeve Syndrome here. It's good practice with DPNs, since I'm taking a sock-knitting class and the needles for that look like toothpicks compared to my usual. Eek!

2. Shawl 1, which will probably be a Christmas present, so no details. Move along.

3. Shawl 2, just started, with yarn I bought at Woolcott's summer sale last week. It's Italian, "Ritratto collezione, S. Charles" according to the label, and it's a mohair-viscose-polyamide-polyester mix that seduced me with its colors. (How do you like the photographer's assistant, by the way? The shadow on the right is the second assistant, who was monitoring from a distance, as is his wont.) This one will probably be for me. It's working up loose and lacy-looking, and although it's still small I like the way it's developing.

There's something about a sale that lets me buy yarn that isn't really cheap, and that I don't know what I'm going to do with, just because I like it. See, it was on sale! This yarn brought out my inner crow: look, sparkly! I would say it's not my usual style, but looking over my recent works, I don't think I can say I have a usual style. I have to say I've had a short attention span recently. Don't know why. Anyway, the sock class starts later this week, so we'll see if I like socks or not. I should work on the sleeve this week, since going from size 6 needles to size 2 won't be quite as jarring as going from 17s to 2s. Of course, I want to work on the shawl, so we'll see.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Hockey time: 42 days to training camp

Counting? Who's counting? Am I the only person who's counting the days until hockey returns?

Blame the Globe. They're enabling by giving me the number in Sunday's papers. And I did have to go check: I didn't have the number of days memorized or anything. (When I realized the number, I knew I had to post about this today. I'm a big Douglas Adams fan, and 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything, after all.)

I know, if you don't "get" this, if you're not with me on the hockey thing, no amount of rationalization is going to make you understand. I think the Yarn Harlot will have knitters taking over the world before hockey fans even start to get organized. Come on, guys, isn't anyone else waiting anxiously for the Bruins to re-sign Patrice Bergeron? (I love that kid. I'm about to break into hives because he hasn't been signed for next year yet. He's the future of the Bruins, if they would only get off their lazy pens and Sign Him. What is more important?)

Actually, I will have a moral dilemma of the first order if he goes elsewhere. I can't root against him. I can't. Since he first showed up at camp in 2003, I've been impressed with him, and his moves, and his skills. I love to watch him play. On the other hand, I've been a Bruins fan for more than 30 years. I have a first-grade paper where my big-print letters spell out "I love hockey. I love Boston Bruins." and go on to list every player I could think of. It would be worse than when Bourque went to Colorado. Don't do this to me! He's only just turned 21, he could be leading this team for years: sign him!

Don't worry, I'm okay. The hives are only metaphorical. Just keep breathing...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Here a cat, there a cat ...

The boys... the first of what will doubtless be many gratuitous cat photos. Pan on the left, Harold on the right. They're 8 years old, putting them in the senior category in cat food at least (though you wouldn't believe it if you saw Pan chasing his tail). I got them as kittens from the Humane Society, when I lived in Charlotte, NC.

to blog, or not to blog

So why blog? Why me?

Good question. I'll get back to you.

Actually, I know some of the reasons. Whether they're reason enough, only history will decide.

I've read a lot of blogs, or at least looked at a lot. Many are unexceptional, and quite a few are variously spelling/punctuating/typing-challenged, which bothers me. I know, it's narrow-minded of me (I don't really believe that), but I find it hard to look past the surface to the content, when the surface is error-ridden. (I realize I am setting myself up to make mistakes and get called for not being perfect myself. I suppose I don't think I'll make a lot of mistakes—conceited much?—and for the sake of good writing, I can overlook a few mistakes.)

However, there are a few blogs I am borderline-obsessive about (see Links), and they inspire me to try my hand at it. I don't expect to get hundreds of readers and comments, the way my favorites often do, but the chance of connecting to someone I would otherwise never meet has a certain odd appeal.

Then, I call myself a writer, but I haven't been writing. I suffer from polishing compulsion, where I want to make every word, every sentence, that I write perfect before I continue. No matter how often I read Bird by Bird, by the wonderful Anne Lamott, I'm still doing this. I hope that, by blogging, I'll be able to loosen up a bit. Writing this may (I hope) get me writing other things.

I want to talk about things that interest me. I don't have any close knitting-fanatic friends, or obsessive-hockey-fan friends, and by putting it out here, I increase the odds that someone will not only listen, but want to discuss. It's possible, anyway.

This isn't going to be a knit-blog, or a hockey blog, or a what-I'm-reading blog, not wholly. Some days I'll write about those things, others not. At least until I know anyone's listening, I may as well amuse myself.

Let me introduce to you...

I give up—I will come to the dark side. I will blog. And I have been lured into this by knitters, of all people.

Well, actually, knitters are known for luring others into knitting; some even carry extra yarn and needles, to whip out when someone expresses a wish to learn. But blogging? Do other people get drawn into the blog-sphere by reading knit-blogs? (Probably. I only like to think I'm special.) Laurie, Stephanie, I blame you.

My two favorite blogs are Crazy Aunt Purl and the Yarn Harlot. Somehow, reading them has led me here.