Saturday, August 30, 2008

I wouldn't want you to worry

In case anyone looks at the weather report and wonders if I'm in a dangerous part of Florida, I'm not. We're getting a lot of rain from the edge of Gustav, and wind, but that's supposed to be it. We're feeling very lucky right now, and awfully sympathetic for New Orleans.

The other thing I wanted to address was a comment from Mary in Molino (who included no blog or e-mail info that I could find) on my entry on crocheting dish scrubbies. She wrote:
I crochet and knit but can't visualize. Help! on the scrubbies do you crochet with or around the net.

Thanks for asking, Mary! If you know crochet already, they should be pretty easy for you, though I know just what you mean about visualizing. Sometimes when I first read something, it makes no sense at all, then something clicks and it's like it jumps into focus: oh, that's what it means!

Anyway, all you are doing (to make the shape I make, anyway) is a rectangle of single crochet. You're using the strip of netting like it was yarn, and crocheting back and forth using single crochet stitch. I hope that helps, but feel free to e-mail me if you have further questions.

Funny story: the first time I tried to crochet anything other than the scrubbies, I was doing this because it was the only stitch I knew. Someone who actually knew how to crochet looked at my work and said, in some disbelief, "You're doing a blanket all in single crochet?" And I said yes, but I was thinking, "There's another way I could be doing it?"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A story through three books

I should be packing, but there's a quick story I wanted to share with you first. I like how one thing led to another.

It started when I was re-reading The Bird in the Tree, a lovely old English novel by Elizabeth Goudge. For some reason, on this reading, when I got to a certain passage:

I suddenly wondered exactly what a "curate's egg" might be. I started to go ask Google, but as I passed through the living room, I decided to consult the OED first.

"Parts of it were excellent"? But ... I've read that before! Peter Wimsey (he who loves quotations) says that in Busman's Honeymoon, when asked how his wedding night was.

I didn't know that was a quote. How funny to have an answer to something I wasn't even questioning. Learn something new every day.

Harold enjoys an almost-invisible nap.

Off to pack now. As usual, I doubt I will post from Florida. Most likely I'll "see" you in a week!

Playing the Pro and Cons Game

If you are thinking that I'm posting this in the morning because I had another headache last night, you are correct, unfortunately. I am knocking dents into wood as I say that right now, I don't have a headache. Oh, please...

The way that I started Monday's post made me think some more about the pros and cons of being laid off.

  • Insecurity (fiscal, mostly). I'll get severance pay for a little while, and I signed up for unemployment benefits. The severance should kick in more or less right away (should), the unemployment takes a few weeks to get started. In other words, I don't know when the next money will go into my bank account. Since the bills keep coming in regardless, I get...
  • Headaches. Stress is one of my headache triggers. Therefore, I have been having more headaches. This sucks so much.
  • I liked my co-workers. We'll get together once in a while, but it isn't the same.
  • There are some noisy kids in this neighborhood! I know it's related to the headache issue, but they've seemed really, really loud some days, with the bike wheels rattling and skateboards rustling, running and yelling and bouncing basketballs. Loud. Outside my bedroom.
  • My garden. It's been hard to go from seeing it five days a week to needing to schedule a 40-mile round-trip to see it.
  • More sleep. I've been staying up a little later than I do on a working schedule, and usually sleeping quite a lot later. This is very nice. I could get used to this. I'd better not...
  • More time to get stuff done around the house. Not that I'm getting everything done, but I have more time... to... not do it. Hmm, that sounded more like a plus in my head than it looks in print.
  • Visiting my parents. Somewhere in his writing, Dave Barry started a sentence with, "If you are, like so many of us, getting older...", and ever since then, I've hesitated before saying things like, "Well, they are getting older" since, yes, we all are. Let's just say that it's good to have time to go see them again.
  • I'm saving a lot of money on gas.
  • Not having to wear grown-up clothes. Hello, sweatpants, hello t-shirts!
  • Not being in a freezing cold office.
  • I can shop during the day, avoiding much of crowdedness in the stores and on the roads. I am, in fact, experiencing a disinclination to go out after about 4.
  • Kitty time. I would enjoy spending more time with the cats in any event, but given the uncertainty of Pan's condition, it's a blessing to be able to hang out with him more.
Speaking of which, it's time for another rousing game of "How many cats do you see in this picture?"

Also, this LOL is appropriate for today, when I will be packing:


P.S. Happy birthday, my friend!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cranial Interference

One nice thing about being out of work is that when I woke up at 4 this morning with a headache, I could take something for it and then sleep in. Like until 10. And wake up without a headache. (It's trying to come back now, but that's neither here nor there.)

Also, being home meant that I saw this:

Of course, it's not all roses. I spent an hour and twenty minutes on the phone filing my claim for unemployment. But at least we live in the days of cordless phones, right?

Due to that impending headache, I don't have much more for you tonight, I'm afraid. Week one without a job survived. No new job yet. Leaving Thursday to visit parents. Can't really form a coherent thought. Hopefully tomorrow will be better, headwise. And the same to you!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Where I went on Friday

Yesterday, I was looking at the tomatoes that I picked on Monday, and thinking wistful thoughts about how I used to be able to see my garden every day, you know, before I was laid off.

Monday's tomatoes on Monday

Monday's tomatoes on Friday

And I thought, perhaps tomorrow would be a good day to visit the garden, and see how it's doing, sad and lonely without me.

Then last night I dreamed that I went to the garden and all the plants were gone, and in the way of dreams I was trying to tell if I was in the right place and I wasn't sure and it got very confusing, but this morning I decided that I should go. I wouldn't be able to see my former coworkers, who would be off at the sales meeting, but I could visit the tomatoes anyway.

They missed me. You can tell, can't you?

I don't know why these photos unrotated, by the way. Computers are perverse.

I also picked 20 green beans, which made a nice healthy snack this afternoon.

It was so odd, driving back there. It felt at the same time familiar and a bit illicit. I somehow expected to be questioned. (I wasn't.)

And finally, may I introduce you to Basil Winterbourne the Sixth.

I uprooted one of the basil plants, in hopes that he will find a pot in my kitchen to be almost as nice a place to live and thrive as the great outdoors. His leaves got a little (ahem) limp at first, but I'm hoping he'll recover from the shock.

And if not? Pesto!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thursday Thoughts: Harold, job search, flowers

Harold got a surprise treat today. His loving grandmother sent him ... plastic.

You remember how he is about plastic, right?

Bite, lick ... love is different things to different people.

Which reminds me of something. Not to digress, but I turned on the Olympics one day and caught some showjumping, which made a nice change from the ever-present beach volleyball/diving/volleyball/swimming, plus they were talking about this one guy for Canada, who is at his ninth* Olympics and has yet to win a medal**, holy cow, talk about perseverance.

*He's qualified for ten, but Canada boycotted Moscow in 1980. He's 61.

**I just Googled it, and the Canadians won the silver in the team event, so he finally gets his medal. Yay, Ian Millar!

But anyway, what made me think of it is that after one horse refused a jump, they went back to the desk and the talking head was going on about how you kind of forget the horses aren't machines until something like that happens.

Or that's what he meant, anyway. What he said was that you forget they're only "human. Um. Equine." At which point I was like, dude? Give it up. You blew the punchline, move on.

Later, Harold reflected on the shining glory that is a new piece of plastic.

It hit me a bit more today, that I'm really going to have to go through the whole job-search rigamarole again, finding openings and customizing my resume and cover letters and (if I'm "lucky") interviewing ... ugh. I had to lie down.

Then I told myself to stop moping and get out of the house for a bit. I went on a walk, and saw pretty things.

These were obviously about to pop, but I love them like this!

And the stage before, too. Nature is amazing.

This apple tree knew that it might be hot, but fall will come again.

And I will get another job. And tomorrow will bring who knows what?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Let me be an ostrich tonight

Actually, I vaguely recall reading that ostriches don't really bury their heads in the sand, but that's not really the point, is it? If I want to bury my head in the sand, you'll let me, won't you?

I got my resume into shape today, and went grocery shopping, and did some things around the house. I also went for a nice walk that I wanted to show you, though there is one thing I have to tell you first.

I saw a house with a fake lawn. AstroTurf. Plastic grass.

I've never noticed anything like it before. Have you?

What I like about walking is getting a chance to see things close-up, not driving by in a blur. For example, I've seen these bushes before and merely thought, pretty.

But when you're close up to one, you see how the white flowers start to go pink as they pass peak. So, so pretty!

I don't know if the people in this house use this walk at all. I kind of doubt it, since the flowers show no sign of traffic.

What are these? They look like a cross between flowers and green beans.

This sign, ooh. Ouch.

That is not how you spell straightening, people. Do not anger the proofreader.

Flowers that shade like this on the bloom fascinate me.

And this, well. It looks like it didn't bloom, but exploded. Poof! Is anyone else hearing the 1812 Overture in their head?

Not a pink person? How about blue?


I like a town with some diversity. First, there's this house:

Now, I'm not particularly a split-level fan. I prefer the house right next door:

Really, though, do they look like they'd be on the same street? It struck me as funny.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If it's Tuesday, I must be unemployed

I'm tempted to start titling my posts "Unemployed: Day 1" and so on, but I have a feeling that could turn out to be depressing, so I think I won't.

About 2 minutes after I woke up this morning (around 8:30, bliss), I heard a truck coming down the street, stopping and starting, and I said, with a mix of confusion and indignation, "Why is the garbage being picked up on Saturday? We don't get trash pick-up on Saturday! Is that the trash truck? It is! Why is it here on Saturday?"

It took me at least a minute to remember that today, while my own personal Saturday (hey, I slept in, it must be), is actually Tuesday, aka trash day. I think I was not fully awake, yes?

So far today, I have done everything on my list for the day except cut up the ripe tomatoes, and the night is young yet, I may get to that. I went through the lay-off paperwork, I took it to the post office, stopped at the bank, went to the library (pick up and return), finished bringing the boxes in from my car, found my resume so I can work on updating it, and put together a binder to organize all the paperwork that goes with a job search.

And I made a cover for the binder, just for the heck of it:

No, I don't think anyone will see the binder and want to hire me because of that. It just seemed like a good idea at the time. Whatever.

Pan isn't quite back to his usual self yet: he didn't even sleep on the bed last night, which is very unusual. However, copious amounts of sleep are usual for him after a vet visit, so I'm not worried. He's been doing a lot of this:

Sometimes with help:

A couple of times this afternoon, he came along and told me he needed to sleep on my lap, right now please, and I was happy to oblige.

In yesterday's post, I didn't mention that when I could stop worrying, there were a few good things about the weekend. First, my friend took me out to lunch on Saturday to hear the Whole Story, with suitable exclamations of sympathy and indignation, with good food, so that was very satisfying.

Then on Sunday, there was a barbecue at the house of my friends with the twins, which was great fun and I got to do a lot of baby-cuddling which was an excellent distraction. I did talk to a couple of people about the situation, as I found myself unable to give a breezy answer to the "how are things with you" gambit, but overall I didn't keep it at the front of my mind. It was five hours of fun and babies and food, and I was exhausted enough afterward that I couldn't even angst properly before going to bed. Well worth the mosquito bites (unless I get West Nile or EEE or something, but hopefully not, right?), though one of them is itching about 5 times as much as the others and is tremendously annoying. Still, on the list of bothersome things in life right now, it's not even top-five.

And! I floated the idea to my mother that I could use some of my Unexpected Free Time to come visit, and she was most enthusiastic, so I am! Life is full of unexpected things, you know, and you never know when will be the last chance, and just go, I say. So I am.

In conclusion: the sooner I find a new job, the better. But still, things are pretty okay right now.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Today Could Have Been Worse

I picked a bunch more tomatoes today. See?

Yes, some of them are only slightly red. But seeing as I was laid off today, I wasn't sure when I'd next get up to the garden to pick, so I took everything that was even slightly red.

And more basil, and some catnip.

And three green beans, but they were gone before I was in the car.

Yeah, yeah, laid off. It wasn't a shock (they're restructuring the whole office: good-bye to 40% of Marketing), and it was almost a relief to know, after the weird and worrisome weekend of wondering.

Harold greeted my lunchtime return with open arms:

He actually was glad to see me; this was after he got used to the idea. Yeah, Mom's home, yawn, whatever, nap time.

And best of all by far, I got to bring the baby home. He's no worse than he was*, which is a huge relief given my black fears and visions.

*I mean, plerual effusion doesn't even sound as bad as congestive heart failure, right?

He's home.

Today could have been far worse.

Anyone in Greater Boston need a proofreader/copywriter/copy editor? Anyone? Bueller? I haz mad word skillz, y'all! Seriously, keep me in mind, would you?

Friday, August 15, 2008

As if Monday wasn't already going to bite

Since I have to take Pan to the vet on Monday and leave him there* and worry about him all day, I already expected Monday to be rotten.

*I hate leaving him there. Hate it. Even leaving both boys to be fixed ten years ago was hard for me. Now? Horrible.

Then at work today, we were told that there are going to be some layoffs. We'll find out who are the "lucky" ones next week. Some time.

So in between worrying about my cat, I can worry if some unknown outplacement person will be showing up at my desk to tell me I'm one of them.

After I spend the entire weekend trying not to think about either situation.

Yes, this month is not going to go down in the books as one of my favorites.

Now, I must turn off the computer, as round 42 of the latest thunderstorm is coming in. I checked the weather map, and the end of this storm is currently leaving Trenton, NJ (about 300 miles away). I hope I see Harold again before morning, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Spam can be fun

I get what you might call a reasonable amount of spam on my e-mail account: not none, but not crippling amounts. And Gmail's spam filter does a great job. I almost never get a spam message in my inbox. I do sometimes get real messages put into the spam folder, but even that doesn't happen often. (For some reason, the "promotional" messages from my credit card provider go there almost every time.)

I usually delete spam messages as soon as I see that they're there, because I'm just that way. Lately, though, I've been seeing a different sort of spam, so I stopped deleting to watch what comes in over a day or two.

Specifically, these are masquerading as CNN alerts, and more recently MSNBC Breaking News. It's amusing me no end, some of the subject lines they're using to entice me into opening the mail. Like, "McCain told lies to get votes." No! A politician lied? I can't believe that.

Here are a few good ones:

I know, small type. Can you read that last one?
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Split; 'Pestilence to go Solo'
It's almost tempting! I mean, someone has a wicked sense of humor, and I'm such a sucker for a sense of humor. Although in the spam world, you'd think that would be a liability.

Since Monday night, I've received 23 spam messages. Four are the usual nonsense; seven purport to be CNN Alerts (with non-specific subject lines); and no less than 12 "from" MSNBC. I like "Poll: Congress's Opinion of Constituents at All-Time Low", too.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get some more of these out of the oven:

And spend some time with this guy:

He thanks you for the good wishes, as do I.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Y'all will excuse me, I'm sure

But I only have four days to spoil Pan utterly, completely, and like never before. Monday he has to go to the vet for a chest x-ray. His breathing is going weird again.

If he writes a country-western song this weekend, the title will probably be, "The salt in my fur is from my mama's tears".

Either that, or "I used to think mama was crazy (now I know for sure)".

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

This is not my beautiful August!

To look at how I was dressed today, you would never know that it is August. I have had it up to here with this 10-20 degrees below average temperature. I demand the return of summer weather!

Oh, what did I wear? I wore a tank top, long sleeve shirt, and sweater today. I almost wish I'd worn long johns under my khakis (except that I refuse to, in August), because my legs were cold. Outside, 60 degrees this morning (and raining, of course). Inside at work, not much better (they keep the air conditioning blowing constantly because ... It's August!). Brrr.

I get in trouble all the time when I think something is "supposed to be" a certain way, and this is one of those times. August in Boston is Supposed To Be hot. So hot you're sick of it, so hot you know it's still summer and you're almost ready for summer to end, only you're not. Humid, sure, but not raining every day. We had double the average rainfall in July, and August is keeping on that pace. Enough already! Please...

When I left work tonight, the sun was mostly out, and it was 75, which is an improvement. But the clouds presage more storms. Sigh.

It makes me tired.

Why my pants* are too tight today

*Brits, please substitute trousers, kthnx

This morning I reaffirmed my resolve to lose some weight. I don't know why today particularly, but today I just thought yes, time to work on this again. Doesn't have to be a lot, but the numbers have been creeping up, and it's reached the point of impacting my clothing. I really can't have this. So when I pulled on my khakis and they were verging on uncomfortable, I didn't switch to a different pair. Instead, I told myself that some negative reinforcement might help me keep my eyes on the goal.

It is uncomfortable.

So is being hungry.

But if I can put up with the latter, the former will improve.

Because that's why I want to lose weight. Not because I think it "looks better". Not to reach a predetermined magic number. Not because it's "healthier". Quite likely if I ate more healthy foods, and less crap, I would be healthier, but that's an amorphous goal. I want to fit into my clothing better, period.

By preference, I'm not a person who gets on the scale a lot. I think it's because I sense that I could get addicted to that number and what it does (up? down?), so I try to stay away. However, since I now have to monitor Pan's weight to make sure he stays healthy, I've been weighing myself every two weeks for almost 18 months, and I can see what that number is doing.

Of course, the fit of my clothing tells the same tale. It isn't really about the number, when I take a step back. It's about what the number means.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Where is my garden?*

*In one sense, it's right where it's always been, but somehow, "What's up in my garden?" sounded ... wrong.

The pea vines in my garden are just about finished:

I'm not complaining. They had a good run this year, and really helped make up for last year's disappointment (critter catastrophe; pest problem; varmint vexation). (I did rotate that picture, damn it, Blogger.)

The tomato plants are looking as though they share my feelings about how much rain we've had recently. They're still producing red ones, but the plant part of the plants (to use the technical term) is getting more withered and scraggly every day.

Still, the weekend brought me 8 tomatoes, after 14 all of last week, and more are turning, so I'm happy with that. I'm not the "pop a raw tomato in your mouth" type, but it's nice not to have to buy them to make bruschetta, and I'm looking forward to trying this ricotta-stuffed tomato recipe.

The basil is going great guns. I picked some on Friday (just a little bit, right?):

... and on Monday one of the plants is getting ready to flower again already.

Much as I like pesto, I don't actually want it for every meal, so I'm giving it away now. I also froze some a couple of weeks ago, but I haven't thawed it yet, so I don't know how well that will work. I suppose I ought to thaw it to find out if freezing it is worth doing at all.

The green beans are still producing, though I experienced a curious reluctance to search for them thoroughly this morning when I saw several slugs on the vines. Eew! Slugs are really gross (to me, anyway), and seeing them did not produce in me a desire to handle the plants. In fact, for some odd creepy-crawly-related reason, it made me itch. My mind's workings are a mystery even to me. I managed to get close enough for this shot:

I know; out of focus. Did you want to see the slug in sharp focus? I didn't. And I wasn't going to try again.

Then there was the white spidery guy on the catnip:

And another of the frequent dragonflies (on a weed):

Finally, this guy was strangely entrancing to me.

I don't want him crawling on me, but the ick factor is nothing like the slug. I couldn't tell you why.

Maybe because he looks like self-striping yarn?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Weekend Highlights, in pictures and words

Harold is going to help me by keeping a watchful eye on the length of this post--oops, sorry, he's too busy watching a bag blow by. Heaven help you!

On Friday, I picked a bunch of the mint that was growing, mostly wild, in my garden. Here it is forming a bed under the tomatoes:

I made mint ice cream, which turned out good if not to die for. The confusing part was that, although the recipe told me it would be "emerald green", it was more a slightly greenish yellow.

That isn't a problem in itself, but we used to make lemon ice cream when I was a kid, and this stuff was so much more yellow than green that my taste buds kept expecting lemon. But still, with some chocolate chips, it was pretty darn good.

As promised, the heart baby blanket is done, washed, and photographed:

I'm quite pleased with it, and I hope the recipient will be, too.

Which leaves me back with my sock. I tried it on, and it's a wee bit loose. But given how I seem to shrink socks, I think that's all for the better.

Pan and Harold reprise their roles in the regular show, Ignoring each other from as close as possible.

Other cat? What other cat?

I went for a walk today, this morning when it was lovely as opposed to this afternoon when it stormed for so long I forgot what Harold looks like.

I saw pretty flowers:

And what is this? Tiger grass?

This afternoon I did laundry, and changed the sheets, which Pan never tires of helping with.

Let me hold this sheet down for you.

Me? Playing with the sheet? Me?

Oh, well, maybe.

But only because you think it's cute.

Can you tell what's under the sheet?


Did you hear that?

I never like to see the end of the weekend, but this was a nice relaxing one, and I'm doing okay with it.