Saturday, February 27, 2010

Gold Medal!

Done! Finished, ends woven in ... done! With a day to spare!

I can't wait to see that gold.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Hanging In There

It's late, so I won't write much tonight, but I didn't want anyone to worry if I didn't post. I'm fine. Today was nothing like as bad as yesterday. It wasn't good, exactly, but the same sorts of shit as yesterday did not trigger any meltdowns today. The summary:
  • Work was what it was.
  • I had rotten cramps and an upset stomach much of the day. This is why I gag whenever I run across any references to menstruation making someone "feel more like a woman" (not that such references are a common thing, but ugh all the same).
  • I listened to most of the US Men's hockey game and their startling victory over Finland (6-1!?) on the radio.
  • I stopped at Trader Joe's after work and bought the largest Toblerone I think I've ever seen.

Do you see that?

  • I had a nice long chat with my mother, discussing among other things (cats, Easter and summer travel plans, and what makes compatible living companions) my interesting work situation, and that I may need to bail out of it (sooner rather than later) if it continues in its current sanity-threatening trending.
  • I watched some Olympics and worked on my knitting. I'll photograph it in daylight tomorrow--it's really coming along! I finished the back, and am almost up to one shoulder on the front. Things are looking promising for the Sunday night deadline!
And now, let me share with you a couple of snippets from the job search, just because they caught my eye:
  • "By the way, there are a number of errors scattered throughout the job description. Identify all of them correctly when you submit your resume, and you will be considered. Miss one, and you will not hear from us. If you cannot find any, please do not apply. Good luck!" (This was for a part-time listing, unfortunately!)
  • "How To Apply:
    Send via the postal mail, a letter of introduction including a current resume, two writing samples, and three references to..." (What, no 4 calling birds?)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Feels Like Hyperbole. Not.

I'm writing this and hearing it in my own head as exaggeration, but it's not. I mean this: today was the worst day I have ever had at work. Twenty years in the working world, more or less, and today was it.

I have never seriously, seriously contemplated walking out of a job. Just walking away.

I have never cried in the ladies room at work, really cried.

I have never felt like I might have to choose, right then, between employment and my sanity. Literally.

I'm doing okay now. Tonight I had plans to go to a friend's house for dinner and some Olympics-watching, and it was really nice, and despite the weather*, I went and had a good time, and I'm okay for now.

*So rainy, so windy, the rain was horizontal, and I was watching for tree branches in the road. And hoping the power would be on, which it is. For now, anyway.

The funny thing, if funny is the right word, is that there wasn't a "thing", an episode or event that caused it. Just that final straw that was too much. I can't take it. I have to get out. (The scary thing for my company is that everyone I talked to agreed with me that It Is Bad There.)

I am scared for tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Just a word

I got home late tonight (babysitting), and someone gave me a warm, furry, purry welcome.

Photo not taken tonight ... but it gets the idea across.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ow, hands, grumble, work, and oh, WINNERS

I don't blame the knitting fates for my sore hands this morning, though I was surprised how sore they (and my arms!) were. I even dreamed that I ran a marathon, which in real life is about the most unlikely thing I could ever do, but I think it was my body telling my subconscious that if I was that sore, I must have done something!

And I don't know if I can blame the knitting fates for how irritating and "tremendously full of hand-tiring tasks" work was today, especially this afternoon, but ow all the same. It was tremendously tedious, to the point where I was having to remind myself that no, no one was picking on me, and yes, I could do it. (Though it didn't all get done, meaning that at least tomorrow morning will be aggravating too. Sigh.)

So this afternoon at work was very annoying and trying, is the point I am subtly trying to make, and when I saw a new job listing pop up on Craig's List*, I thought "Maybe this time..." with more than usual fervor.

*No, I don't expect to find a job this way, but what does it hurt to get the listings delivered to my Google Reader?

The job listed? Pashto Annotator. Nice one, job-hunting fates. Very deflating.

And my hands still hurt, enough that I stopped writing this to go take more tylen0l. Ow. My musings on the Olympics will have to wait (you: no! how can I live with the suspense?). I know what you're here for tonight, anyway: winners! Who wins Laurie's book?*

*From me, anyway. Have you read any of the other reviews? Just saying.

Without further ado (you know how I am about ado), the winners are:
  • Kali
  • Adrith
  • Mary Ellen
  • Deb
  • Kate P
I'm sorry that everyone can't win, but at least here the odds were pretty good (not that that's much comfort, really). (If you don't read Joshilyn Jackson's blog, you should; what made me think of it now is her strong feelings on the evil ways of the Random Number Generator, "that capricious sow".)

Meanwhile, you few, you lucky few, you band of ... readers, send your snail-mail address to me via the old ccrinma at hotmail dot com, and I will forward said addresses to those with power to send you your book! Congratulations!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The "my thumbs hurt" knitting update

Yes, I overdid the knitting tonight. The good news is that I'm past the armhole split on the vest, and working my way up the back. The bad news is that my thumbs hurt, and I need to stay off them.

Time to stop typing! Go comment on my review of Home Is Where the Wine Is, if you haven't already, and tomorrow night I'll figure out which five comments win a copy of the book.

And if you have any suggestions for thumb exercises, lay'em on me. Owww.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Of Cats

I* got this tall, solid scratching post years ago, when Pan and Harold outgrew the little kitten-sized one, and I took pity on Pan squatting down to be low to the ground so he could scratch UP! It's worked out well; although the sisal-rope stuff has settled down over time, it's pretty well made, and has held up to a lot of scratching.

*Actually, I think my mother got it for them. Thanks again!

A few months ago, after Harold died, I pondered whether I should keep it, as it does take up space, and Miri didn't seem to be using it at all. (She liked to scratch on the actual carpet instead, the pest.) And then came Carlos.

Carlos loves it. The first photo, taken without a flash, is a blur because he was launching himself around the base, attacking the dangly things that have hung ignored for so long (Pan liked them, and even he didn't play with them much the last year or two, but just did plain scratching). He dives and swoops and has a wonderful time.

Kung fu pose! Oh, flash! Bright!

I know you're still there.

Recently, I've even noticed Miri scratching the base, instead of the rug. Win-win; it stays, of course.

And here they both are, not curled up together, but adjacent at least. I think that Miri is completely ready to be friends, while Carlos isn't quite secure enough yet to encourage her. Still, for only a month in, they're getting along splendidly.

Herself still wants love, naturally--on my terms, stop trying to kiss me, touch the belly if you dare, can't you scritch my cheeks endlessly and leave the rest of me alone?

I'm so cute, right?

But now there's another contender for the cute title. Look at him:

Deeply asleep, or practicing his dive for the 2012 Summer Games?

I do love a cat in sunshine.

Hey, by the way, yesterday's post was the 900th I've posted! How about that?

And I've used 70% of my photo allowance. Have to keep an eye on that number. I've been perfectly happy with Blogger, overall, and wouldn't plan to switch to another platform, but I can't fathom blogging without pictures. As well make me type with my tongue. Not going to happen.

Reminder: comment on my review of Home Is Where the Wine Is, and you might win a copy of the book for yourself! Go on, you know you want to!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Knitting Olympic Update, around half-way

Reminder: comment on my review of Home Is Where the Wine Is, and you might win a copy of the book for yourself! Go on, you know you want to!

The knitting project is going well, as I will show you in multi-photo detail shortly. But first! Have I mentioned that my needles squeak? Creak? Drive me nuts?

If Blogger and Picasa and my lovely little camera have done what they promised, you can see this wee "video" I made last night, in case the squeak/creak/drive me nuts description is not clear enough.

Like that, only louder. So annoying! I tried to work some soap into the join, and the results were absolutely nil. I don't want to put anything on that could mess up the yarn, but it is seriously annoying.

As for the progress of the knitting, it goes well. I finished the second ball last night, and was seized with a sudden desire to test the fit of the garment in progress. Previously, I felt that trying it on and finding it didn't fit would impair my inspiration and dedication to progress, but, well, impulse of the moment and all. I threaded half the stitches onto another circular, and viola, it fits!

Well enough for me for now, anyway. Triumph!

It is this big:

And now I'm going to knit some more.

Tomorrow: cats! That's the plan, anyway.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Just a Quick

Hi! Go back and read the review of Laurie's book! Comment to maybe win your own copy!

And here, have an awww.

Baby leopards! Read and more photos here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reviewed At Last: Home Is Where the Wine Is, by Laurie Perry

I've been looking forward to reviewing this book ever since, well, ever since the publisher offered to send me a (free!) copy so that I could review it. Weeks!

I've been looking forward to reading it ever since I heard it was coming out. Months!

I'm not a big fan of waiting, though as I am a big fan of procrastination*, let me assure you that this entry is not written ahead of time. I'm writing it Thursday night, to post in time for Friday, my assigned tour day.

*First of many quotes from the book: "I like being prepared. Preparation is the socially acceptable cousin of procrastination".

(Did I mention, the publisher has offered to give away five copies to the charming readers of this blog? Or at least, to five readers, in the US or Canada, who are willing to send me their address so I can send it to said publisher? If you fit those rules, be sure to comment! [By Tuesday night, say? Is that enough time?] You'll love the book, and I'd love to need to use the random number generator.)

And I'll cut right to the chase, I loved Home Is Where the Wine Is. The tone is casual, friendly, but to the point, even if the point is bikini waxing, or feuding gardeners. If you read her blog, she sounds familiar without rehashing old entries; yet if you don't or haven't read her blog, you won't feel you're missing the in-jokes.

The book (she categorized it as "biographical nonfiction"*) is arranged by topic, each inspired by resolutions, such as "knit something that isn't square" and "go on a real live date". There are also knitting and crocheting patterns at the back, some of Laurie's and some from others, including Laurie's Mistake Rib Scarf**, and Drew's adorable crocheted*** Flip-Flop Coaster.

*"All the self-help books I've read, and I still don't know any of the answers; it's a travesty."

**Which ends in classic Laurie fashion by saying, "Seriously, that is the whole stitch pattern. I am not even lying to you." As someone who first found Laurie's blog while looking for a simple hat pattern to knit, and loved the 20-step roll-brim hat pattern at, I find that extremely amusing.

***Duh, crocheted; he is the Crochet Dude, after all.

I was thinking about this book as I re-read it this week, and why I enjoyed it so much, when Laurie and I live such different lives (we both knit, and love our cats, but otherwise...). Not that I need to totally identify with the author to enjoy a book, but why did I feel like I identified with Laurie, beyond the topics of knitting and cats?

I decided it's this: everyone has their own obstacles to overcome, whether big or small or somewhere in between. There are everyday things that may seem like no big deal to others, but that you just can't bring yourself to do. And reading about someone overcoming their self-imposed obstacles, even when the obstacles are different from yours, feels empowering. She may not be climbing the same mountains I have to climb, but look! She's climbing mountains! It can be done!

Plus, she makes me laugh, with lines like these:
  • Nothing makes you madder than trying to get all filled up with love and inspiration and being unable to do so because there is no parking.
  • It's amazing how denial works, but it does.
Knitting notes from someone who understands:
  • After all, I assured myself, it's just yarn.
  • Here you have some sticks and some string and all of a sudden you have--oh my word--IT IS A HEEL!*
*That's just about the exact reaction I had the first time I made a sock. Look at that, it turned a corner!

Even some home truths:
  • I've been busy, I tell myself. I'm not looking for a long-term commitment, I tell my friends. But the truth is I am lazy, and dating is work.
  • I cannot be on a date with someone who was born during a year I can remember living through.
  • Don't give up and lower your standards. There is nobody on the planet worth your self-worth. Set the bar high and someone somewhere will rise up to meet it.
And I did not, unlike some movie trailers, just give you all of the good bits. Not only is the whole book good, but I think every reader would be struck by different bits. These are just mine.

Basically: it's a good book. Period.

And now, Laurie is in the house! I got to ask her a few questions, including one from regular read Leslie (hi, Leslie!). Away we go...
Topic the first: after your experience dating Andy, who read
your blog and tried to re-make himself into what he thought
you wanted, did you think about removing the archives? Are you
more or less likely to read your past posts after that? Was
it the book deal that brought you out of anonymity, and are
you more happy or sorry about that? (Feel free to not answer
all of those.)

It's definitely crossed my mind to remove the archives. I've
changed so much that I am virtually unrecognizable from the
woman I was in the middle of my divorce. Some people feel
they really know me from reading essays I wrote years ago
and I worry that it might be a bit of an untruth -- yes, I
wrote all that and yes I felt that way six years ago, but a
lot has changed. Because it's not fiction my story may not
have the tidy, happy ending wrapped up with a bow. Is that
a disappointment for some? I don't know. Obviously that's
something I think about, because I want the reading
experience to be fun, not a letdown.

What's crazy is that I don't remember half of what I wrote
back then, and I never go back and re-read stuff. Eventually
I decided to leave all the archives online for now because
I still get emails from women who tell me that it helped
them to read about my troubles, my crazy meltdown, my messy
divorce. And that's an amazing feeling to get an email like
that. Of course having all that stuff online makes dating
interesting! You can Google me and get six years of my life
in words. I've noticed that men I've dated start reading it
thinking it's the User's Guide To This Woman. I think my best
options are to date men who don't know how to read or men
who can't read English. Hmmm-- maybe both!

Had I thought it through more clearly I might have used a
pseudonym for my book but it all happened so fast I just
didn't think it through. And I was still nose-down in a
bottle of Cabernet most of the time, and messy, and I just
wasn't thinking. I never had a business plan or a schematic
for success. But in the long run I think honesty works best
and I try to be honest with myself and with others. So I'm
glad I just said who I was. It's easy to hide, it's easy to
use a fake name and make up stuff, but I guess I just
stumbled into honesty in a very public way and hoped for the
best. It's been fine, I have no complaints. My illiterate,
foreign boyfriend is out there waiting for me somewhere.

- - -

Second: I first found your blog when I was looking for a hat
knitting pattern (and I loved your easy roll-brim hat recipe,
thank you). Do you think a lot of your fans are knitters, or
are they there in spite of your knitting habit?

My audience is about 40% knitters, 60% non-knitters. Though
I am assuming the audience I have among inmates is mostly
composed of non-knitters -- I guess I could be wrong. I
haven't done a poll on that one! Many of my readers say they
tune out when I talk about knitting and many get irritated
when I don't mention it regularly enough. I go through phases
with knitting. Sometimes I'll be on fire with projects and
sometimes I get busy doing other things. So I just write
about whatever I'm into at the time.

- - -

Third: are there any questions that you wish tour people
were asking, but that no one has asked yet?

Oh, that's a question I've never gotten before! I think
people ask things differently each time, each person has a
unique motivation or curiosity. So none of the questions
ever seem repetitive. I do wish Oprah would ask me which
days I am available for her show, though. Yes, that is one
question I would LOVE to get!

- - -

Finally, one of my readers wants to know how you met Drew
(the crochet dude). Is there a story there?

Nothing scandalous, sadly, though we could probably make up
a great story. We met through a mutual friend. Though it
would be fun if we'd both been abducted by aliens!
And here it's me again, saying please, Laurie, write that story! And thank you for answering my questions, and thank you for this book. I loved that you said, "with the world mired in so much bad news and grumpyness I just wanted to write something light and funny. "

You did.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Thinking in Fragments, or, It will have to be bullets tonight

  • Why do I feel less praised when it is given in the form of "Your great!"?
  • Why do I doubt I will find a proofreading position on a website that claims "Company's post exclusive jobs..."?
  • When I got home tonight, one of the other condo owners had just pulled up too, and he pointed out that there was a water heater among the garbage cans. Since neither of us is aware that one of the building's heaters was being replaced, and we would most likely have heard, that means that probably someone just left it there for our building to deal with. Can you image?
  • My boss told me today that her boss, one of the new guys, doesn't think that my main job task belongs in his area, and should be part of another group. Which would have me reporting to someone I like even less than my current boss, if you can imagine. It may not happen, but ugh. I kept shuddering all day, thinking about it.
  • I did apply for a proofreading job last week, it's not close but I could handle the commute for a good job, but so far I've only heard back in an auto-response, "don't call us" way.
  • And I can't find another proofreading job online tonight to apply for, except the one that requires experience proofreading technical manuals. I can talk my way around certain "candidates should have..." features, but absolutes like required, when I don't? Yeah, not so much.
  • I'm taking the night off knitting, due to a possible repetitive-stress ache. Last night, I noticed that the back of my right hand is sore, and feels almost bruised. Since there is no bruise, and I don't recall whacking it into something very, very hard, I'm going to give the hands a night off. Hopefully, the fulfillment of my Olympic dream will not hinge on this decision.
  • Miri really wants to curl up with Carlos. He's just looking at her.
  • In honor of Dick Francis's recent death, I thought I would re-read my favorite few of his books (top 3? top 5?) and review them here. It might even happen! I have to pick my favorites first.
  • We had snow yesterday. Even after clearing it off my car and stomping it off my boots, I had to admit, it was pretty this morning:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Really, Random

I've got a pot of soup going on the stove, and I want to get some knitting done tonight, so I bring you random things I've tagged to blog about. Enjoy!
May all your melt downs be ice cream related. --Graham Roumieu
funny pictures of cats with captions

funny pictures of cats with captions

funny pictures of cats with captions


(See it for real here.)


(found here)

Remember to stop by on Friday (you would anyway, right?) for the review of Crazy Aunt Purl's book--with giveaway!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Quick Knitting Olympics Update

It is surprisingly hard to type with a cat between me and the keyboard, lying on my arm. This doesn't bother me much.

This afternoon, between loads of laundry, I finished the first ball of yarn, seven inches in.

At stitch and bitch, I reached nine inches and started the waist shaping.

This is the most recent. It's looking like a garment!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Updates in Knitting, and Cats

Knitting update

Here is the vest so far:

I started Friday night, at 9, when the opening ceremonies began. The pattern calls for you to cast on using smaller needles than the main part calls for, and I didn't have one long enough, so I improvised:

One circular and two double-points. It worked quite well, though it usually looked less round, more like this:

I had some knitting time yesterday, though not a ton as I went out with friends last night (to a play, how grown-up!). Today, I noticed that I messed up one of the cables a few rows back (the two cables are supposed to mirror, but I did them the same in one spot).

Instead of ripping back all those rounds, I dropped the four stitches down three rows (ulp) and fixed them. And it worked! I love it when that happens.

This is my first time knitting cables. I understood the basic idea, but doing something for the first time is always a little funky. Easy enough, just weird. I felt the same way about yarnovers, when I did them for the first time last year. I think I had built the techniques up in my mind as somewhat more complicated than they really are.

2010: Year of the Cable!
2009: Year of the Yarnover!

One of the things I am learning to let go of is the idea that there's one right way to knit something, and everything will work out perfectly if only you do it all right. I know this isn't true ... but sometimes it seems it hasn't sunk in. I was preparing my materials Thursday night, and fretting over the pattern and how to interpret some of the instructions, and I reminded myself, all you can do is try. There's no guarantee that this vest will fit me when it's done. All I can do is try my best. So far, so good.

Feline Update
Cats! Together!



And by choice, no denying it:

Ha! My plot is working!

funny pictures of cats with captions

Channeling Miri!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Let the Games ... What, Not Yet?

Whose bright idea was it to start the TV coverage at 7:30 and not have the opening ceremonies start until 9? I want to cast on!

I hate waiting.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Knitting as Olympic Sport

Rather on the spur of the moment yesterday, I decided to take part in the Knitting Olympics this time around, though I didn't in 2006*. Something about the idea of challenging myself appealed to me, and since I recently fell in love with a sweater pattern that I am not ready to tackle (pretty, but oohhh, complicated)(Ravelry link), I think that starting the process of getting more comfortable with making garments that fit would be a good challenge.

I'll be attempting Abrazo (again, Ravelry link), a vest in super bulky yarn, so I have a chance of finishing it in 17 days. Will I finish it? Will it fit? (Cables! Charts! Measurements! Needle size!) Tune in!

I've started swatching with black yarn, since I had some black super bulky on hand. Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick is not what the pattern calls for, but spending around $25 versus around $120 appeals to me enough to chance the substitution. I bought 4 skeins of it in Cranberry for the actual vest (will it be enough? oh, the suspense!), but I can't start tonight (swatching is training, you can do it ahead of time, but casting on for real has to wait for the Olympics). I'm off to study the pattern, and watch the Bruins go for three in a row.

*If you want to read how the Knitting Olympics got started four years ago, it's here. (Can you believe, there was no Ravelry then? Me either.)

This year, Stephanie pondered Knitting Olympics in the Ravelry era, then made her stand here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

So-So Snow, Cats, and a Random Rant

So far, and I'm happy to say this, the OMG! snow! storm Boston was preparing for today has been a bust. Yes, it's snowed some, and it's very windy, but when I left work at five I only had a tenacious dusting to clear off the car, and going home, the roads were ... damp, is all. It's not done yet, and I know south of the city they got more, but in my own world, no problems yet. Thankfully.

I've had dinner, and some kitty-cuddles thanks to Carlos and his non-hatred of human contact, which is pretty much the diametric opposite of Miri (who, if I touch her or move toward her in a way she dislikes, will either remove herself, or stare at me in a "what kind of deviant are you" way, or both).

This is a relaxed cat.
Not every cat can sleep en pointe du nez.
Wistful cat: Just because I flee from you, you pat another cat?
Now, since work continues to suck, I am going to search around a bit. Tune in tomorrow for knitting news!

Random Rant of the Day: I love Google, and think that there is practically* nothing to complain about in GMail and Google Reader and Picasa. But! I can't get the spam filter in my GMail to accept that the monthly bonus-deals newsletter from my credit card company is not spam. Not spam! No! Bad spam filter!

*Practically. Sometimes I still want to be able to sort the messages in my in-box by sender, though, Google, and no matter how many times you tell me that your way is better, I will not change my mind. Nor am I the only one who thinks so, have you noticed? Since when is it a good business model to assure customers that they don't really want what they say they want?

And actually, the spam filter does an awesome job most of the time. Only rarely do I get spam in my in-box, and only very rarely does "real" mail get tucked in with the spam. The only regular exception is this silly newsletter, and Google just doesn't seem to believe me when I say that I recognize the sender, this is real, do not protect me from my mail plz. Since I don't really seem to use the offers it sends, I may unsubscribe from it just to end this petty irritation. Grr.