Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Getting Into the Christmas Spirit, One Cartoon at a Time

Do you watch the animated/claymation Christmas specials on TV? Did you as a kid?

Miss Conduct wrote about Rudolph today, and it got me thinking...

My favorites are:
*This plays these days, but there was a long period there when it wasn't aired, and one year I made a friend very happy by not only knowing which obscure special she was talking about, but having it on video.

I think that's all of them, my favorites. Am I forgetting any? This is essentially what played every year in the 70s*, in those dark days when you had to watch it when it came on TV, since that was your only chance because there were no DVDs or videos**. Yes, old fart alert, I am that old (and my mother is wincing just to read this). Once a year, The Wizard of Oz or The Sound of Music was on, and the whole family watched together. Seriously, kids!

*other than a couple that I just never glommed onto; for whatever reason, I was never into The Little Drummer Boy, and Frosty Returns didn't get me either. As an adult, I rather liked Olive, the Other Reindeer, but it's not the same if you didn't grow up with it, somehow.
**Video! I have them on video! This year, I'll have to watch the specials when they come on, because my VCR isn't working! Whoa.

Is it all the nostalgia that makes me love them? They're such products of their times, with some seriously dubious messages (about conformity and gender roles, for instance), and the animation/claymation is nothing like what they can do today ... and yet I love them.

What about you?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Of Math, Jobs, and Various Other Things

Math rarely makes me feel better (about anything), but I recently employed it to make me feel a little better about my job situation. (Employed! Ha! Look at that, I made a funny!)

To recap, I left the temp-job-that-might-could-maybe-turn-permanent, which was the one with the uncommunicative boss and the commute I loathed, for this temp-job-that-is-really-temp. As in, it goes to Christmas, but maybe not beyond, I don't know yet. And now I'm facing the possibility of being out of work until I can find something else, which could be who-knows-how-long. Scary.

I don't regret the change, actually, but it's still a scary situation. However! Math to the rescue, or at least to the mood improvement*. My current job pays much better than the last job did. So much so, in fact, that ten weeks here would be roughly equivalent to sixteen and a half weeks there. I needed a pen and paper, and a calculator to check my figuring, but I am confident in the result. Somehow, this makes me feel better about the possibility of being unemployed in January**.

*The construction of that phrase made me think of the Princess Bride, and the whole "To the death! no, to the pain" discussion.
**And now that I'm thinking Princess Bride, this makes me think of Vezzini threatening Fezzick, does he want to go back to being "unemployed, in Greenland?"

Of course, part of the conflict in my head is that the prospective joblessness isn't only scary. For the short term, it sounds divine. I LOVE the idea of some time spent not working. I'm just afraid of how long it will go on.

A month without work? No problem! Cake! Sleep late, hang with Carlos on my lap, read, generally fart around doing nothing much. Not have to traipse out every day in the cold? Dream!

But, much longer than that? Bills. That pesky mortgage. Et-very-cetera. When will I find something? Will I have to settle for something less than what I want? Will I even be able to find something to settle on?

Scary monsters.

The Bruins are in one of those phases again. One of those "we make your goalie look HOT" phases. One of those "maybe special teams* isn't the right way to put it" phases. One of those "turn on the game, but bring a book" phases. I hate these phases.

*For the non-hockey-fans: when your team is penalized and has to play short-handed, or when the other team is penalized and yours gets to play with an extra man, the players in these situations are called special teams. Penalty-killing + power play = special teams

It's a frustrating time, as a fan. They don't have to win every game and sweep to the Cup, but could they suck a little less thoroughly? Please?

Tomorrow is the end of November; how crazy is that? Still, there's a lot to look forward to in December, and I'm going to try to hold onto that, this dark and cold time of year.

For one thing, the solstice is in just three weeks. Only three more weeks of Getting Darker, and then we reach Getting Lighter again.

Meals and plans with friends. I have three such events in the next two weeks. Friends are good.

In two and a half weeks, my mother will be here. Yay! Hugs whenever I want one. Nutcracker. Eating out, and visiting friends, and driving around looking at Christmas lights. Hanging out with Carlos. Whatever we want.

And at some point before Christmas (I don't know exactly when), my brother will be here, and my universe will right itself a little when we three are together. A lot of shared history, shorthand references, and laughter. Driving to Grandma's, family and food and fun. And craziness, let's be honest. Still, mostly fun, and totally worth it.

Now that my VCR isn't working, I keep thinking of things I have on video that I want to watch. I figure that once I'm permanently employed again, I'll get a new VCR, as it seems you can still get them in a combined video-and-DVD-player. I already want to replace my TV* then, so I may as well do it all at once. In the meantime, though, no watching videos, which feels odd. I have a lot of videos still.

*Bought it in college. Graduated from college in 1991. Old TV.

Happily, I did get Miracle on 34th Street* on DVD for my birthday, or I would have been SOL this weekend. I like to watch it Thanksgiving weekend, since it starts at the Macy's parade, and it sort of guides me from the mindset of one holiday to the next.

*Not the remake, thank you (and NOT colorized, either!). I know you're shocked to hear it, but I'm a bit of a stick in the mud that way. I've never even watched High Society all the way through, since I love The Philadelphia Story so much. I like Bing Crosby, but seeing him in Cary Grant's role makes my brain hurt.

I saw a car this morning with the vanity plate "GOD", which kind of surprised me. I don't picture Him driving a small sedan, somehow. I suppose Jesus would, but I imagine God in something more powerful, with smiting capability.

P.S. Mary Ellen, the colorway of that Socks That Rock lightweight is "Sunkisssed Sands", and I can't wait to see how it knits up. I lack skein vision, so looking from the skein to the balled yarn to the knit fabric is almost always eye-opening for me.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bits and Pieces to End the Long Weekend

Long weekends are so amazing. I'd love to not have to work. Or at least take a year or two off. Pesky living expenses. It's been a good break, anyway. Some of the things I've done:
  • I went to a craft fair, which was fun and yielded some good presents (and maple cotton candy!), but wasn't as big as I was hoping for (it was no Southern Christmas Show, my gold standard).
  • I've shared plenty of couch time with Carlos. Not as much as he would like, of course, but that's a high bar, and biology does mean I have to get up sometimes.
  • I made a list of what I have for who, present-wise, and set up the Christmas cards (and stamps, return address labels, photo pen, regular pen, and address book) to get the process rolling. I've also contemplated the tree plans, including the possibility of replacing the strings of Christmas lights that are from my childhood.
  • I did not buy the heated pet bed I saw at Petsmart yesterday, on the quibbling grounds that $140 is a bit much. Though it was really, really nice. Perhaps someone on Freecycle will come through for me. And I'll keep checking Craigslist.
  • Work continues on the second raspberry sock; I'm working on the heel, so progress is even being made! My mind, however, is drifting to the next project...
Remember the Socks That Rock lightweight I got at Rhinebeck? Sure you do!

I wound it yesterday. It couldn't decide whether it wanted to weigh 4.35 ounces:

Or just 4.30.

The label says it's 4.5, but never mind. It's pretty, and that's what counts with me.

Only time will tell if I manage to finish the current sock before starting with this.

I got a package on Friday:

Time for the Harbor Sweets advent calendar experience again! Get ready: this year, it's going to be twice as good!

Which is more than you can say for this next tidbit, but I had to laugh at this part of today's Globe article on bedbug problems in the area:

Gee, I wonder why? Those wacky people. (His point was that they don't spread disease.)

Carlos can't understand why the vet says he should lose weight.

He's just fluffy! And that's his bad side! And poor lighting!

And although he was probably either squinting here, or annoyed to be disturbed from his nap in the sun, it looks kind of like he's giving me the ... paw.

Miri just wants me to go away, in general.

Sunlight through paw

Toe floof!

Talk to the paw...

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Peaceful Day, with apples

I had a kind of surreal feeling this morning, when I realized that the answer to the question, "What should I be doing now/next?" was, "whatever I want to". Facing three days of no particular schedule was really nice! I've managed to fill the day without going out or even showering (gasp), and the only down part was the Bruins losing their matinee. (The reason I sometimes say of them that it's better to be lucky than good is that if you don't outplay the other team, but win anyway, that's mostly a good thing. Today, on the other hand ... facing a hot goalie and having an ineffective power play do not add up well.)

But! Undaunted! I finally finished dealing with the last of the apples I picked, making apple crisp (mmm!) and the fourth batch of applesauce this season. Yes, four: I think I'll remember not to get so many apples next year without having to leave myself a note. It's good to have the applesauce, but the freezer is kind of full. Here's a little poem to commemorate this part of the day:
apple crisp
apples gone
I also, apparently not having had enough of the peeling with the apples, made scalloped potatoes and ham. Delicious and satisfying. The last of the dishes are soaking, so I won't be ending today with that counter-full-of-dirty-dishes feeling. Yay for that, for once.

As seen in the photo in yesterday's post, I knit a little turkey for the holiday. I think he would have been even cuter is a slightly lighter brown yarn, but that was what I had, and he turned out well enough for me. I also brought angel salad and mashed potatoes to dinner, and it was all wonderful (and I wasn't hungry again for a remarkably long time).

Not just the food, and the company, but my mood was better this year. Last year was my least thankful Thanksgiving in a long time. Harold had just died a few weeks before, and my Dad and Pan since the previous Thanksgiving, and the most gratitude I could sincerely summon was that the list stopped there. This year was a lot better.

It turned out that I only had to work half a day on Wednesday. This meant coming home for a relaxed afternoon, chilling with the kitty, before making the angel salad early enough that I was finishing the dishes around the time I would normally have been getting home. Very laid back! The Bruins won Wednesday night's game (better lucky than good that time, for sure), and I slept in, lazed about, watched the Macy's parade, and finally made the mashed potatoes before getting ready to go. Quiet, peaceful, laid back: these are some of my favorite ways to describe a holiday. Or any day, really.

I also at some point finished reading Dave Barry's latest book, which I quite enjoyed and do recommend. My favorite quote:
In other words, I learned that even though I enjoyed playing sports, I sucked at them. And understanding that you suck at some things is useful information in life. The world would be a better place if people were fully cognizant of their areas of suckage.
It's called I'll Mature When I'm Dead. Check it out.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Big Things and Little Things

Every year around Thanksgiving, I could probably make much the same list of things that I'm thankful for. The repeat doesn't mean it's any less sincere, but this year I wanted to note the little things as well as the big things I'm grateful to have.

So: Big Things and Little Things
  • my family, spread out geographically but close to each other at heart
  • angel salad
  • health, relatively speaking, my own and that of those I love
  • my digital camera
  • good friends, to talk with and laugh with and be with
  • Lake Champlain caramel-filled chocolates
  • a job, even a temporary one, that helps pay the bills
  • my short-and-sweet commute this morning
  • Carlos, a very good cat
  • the act of knitting, lovely yarn, snuggly hand-knits
  • food, and not just enough to live on
  • the Bruins
  • driving to work again (this should be Little, but really it feels Big)
  • eggnog
  • books
  • getting out of work early for the holiday
  • the internet, blogging, and blog-friends
What about you? Big thing, little thing?

Happy Thanksgiving (or, you know, happy random Thursday in November, if you're not American).

P.S. I would also have been grateful if Blogger had deigned to format this list the way I wanted it to be, but I managed, in the spirit of the season, not to get all bent out of shape about it, or to spend way too much time trying to get it right. Still, no-thanks to you, Blogger.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I want a housekeeper.

He or she could cook, too, and that would be even better, but geez, if the kitchen was cleaned without me that would be enough. I hate having a pile of dishes on the counter waiting to be washed, yet somehow I don't get to it as often or as quickly as needed. This adds stress to my life, and frankly my stress tolerance is not strong to begin with.

Clean. Cook. Laundry. Grocery shop. What would you like to have someone else take care of for you?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Carlos Isn't Too Happy With Me

funny pictures-If yu kan't beet 'em...

I am expecting to see this look from Carlos any day now.

After the vet's strongly-worded opinion that Carlos needs to lose weight, and that the dry food is Not Good For Him, I am attempting to convince the baby that the bowl of crunchies he used to have was a dream, an illusion, and not something he should expect to see again. He is none too pleased. ("Of course he likes them," said the vet. "I like cheese doodles myself.")

He also was found to have an ear infection, so the poor boy is getting goop in his ears as well, the ultimate insult added to injury. When the vet asked if he'd been scratching a lot, I felt like such a bad mother to say no. Really, though, it hasn't seemed to bother him. Certainly not as much as the treatment is! The poor guy.

I'm sorry, baby.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Knitter's Birthday Report

For my birthday, a gift card from Knit Picks came my way (thanks, Mum), and last week I finally decided what I wanted most. Yesterday, the box arrived.

Item number one: sock blockers:

I'll still take pictures of socks on feet, since that does show the socks as they are meant to be, but sometimes the detail you get on blockers is a different side of the story. I tested them out with the recently completed first raspberry sock:

Item number two: sock knitting needles, in six sizes:

The ones I have are all seven inches long, which I chose because when I tried shorter ones, in my early days of sock knitting, I felt insecure with them. Not enough to hold on to!

These days, being more comfortable with the process, I have been finding the needles longer than I need them to be:

Here you can see the new needle in front of the older one, next to the needle gauge.

And in action:

I knit with them last night, and they're a good length. (It's generally not advised to switch needles in the middle of a project, but I'm living on the edge.) Happy!

Item number three: a "cheat sheet" for the kitchener stitch (for grafting sock toes and so on):

It clips onto my sock tool kit, and is a tad more compact and durable than my previous method:

And it's just too cute, as a knitter, to have a kitchener dog tag. I suppose I could wear it around my neck to knitting events!

So that's my birthday fun. Otherwise, it's been a good weekend, a tad busy, slightly but not too headachy, fun with friends, seeing Harry Potter 7 part 1, dishes and laundry and cooking, oh my. As usual, not enough got done, but faced with a 3-day work-week followed by a 4-day weekend, I am remaining sanguine.

Though I'd best get down to the laundry now. Take care!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday, and just minor news (thankfully)

It's only Saturday afternoon, and I'm already tired. Part of that is because I stayed up late last night reading (Sharon Shinn's latest, Troubled Waters, it's really good if you like fantasy), then found myself awake around 7:20 this morning--not by choice, if I need to say that. It does make me sad when I can't sleep in, when I could but my body doesn't let me.

In one way, it was good that I was up, though, because it would have been really weird if the noise I heard from 9:25 to 10:20 this morning woke me up. There was a service van of some kind (I couldn't read the side from here) parked in front of a house down the street, with a hose running into the house, and it made this deep, almost vibrating hum that really hit my nerves, in a "make it stop" way. I don't know what they were doing, but I hated it.

This morning was also the stressful-for-all-of-us day of the vet's visit (I choose to pay extra to get the vet who makes house calls, rather than deal with Miss Whirling Dervish and Mr Howls in the Car). Nothing too problematic, though Carlos has junk in his ears that will need cleaning out (and of course, the treatment is messy: ointment in the ears). Good thing he's so laid-back, eh? I find the visit a strain, though she's perfectly nice and nothing major was wrong. Something (or two) about cats and November, probably, which will take me a few years to get past.

What, me, superstitious? Nonsense.

'Tis the season for mail-order catalogs to pour in and be pored over, and in addition to the usual suspects there are sometimes ones I've never heard of (Wine Country Gift Baskets?). Such was the case with Acorn, which contained the sorts of things often found in Signals, Wireless and the like, but also contained this:

I love this organizer. And $69 isn't really much, if it's at all well made (no way to tell, of course). Not that I'm buying it, not before I have a permanent job anyway. But I'm wanting it!

I'm going out tonight to meet friends for dinner, so I'm posting earlier than I might ordinarily. Though I may need a nap before I go! Perhaps I'll get a second wind.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Night, Yeah

I am afraid to check and see how often I have written here, "I'm tired", "I'm so tired", and the like.

Oh, all right, here's a hint. When I search my published posts for "tired", it brings up 131 results*. Out of 1121. And while a few of those may be referring to something other than my own energy levels ... well, it's doubtful. I don't spend much time writing about how a current trend is just tired. So there we are.

*"Exhausted" only gets ten, and "fatigue" two. I guess I'm pretty dedicated to "tired".

Anyway! I stopped for groceries on my way home, and after powering around the store, and hauling it all upstairs, I think a little fatigue is not surprising. I wanted to show you one of the things I bought, since it falls into the category of "Didn't Know It Existed, But Now I Must Have It". I was buying more spaghetti for the next time I make spaghetti pie, and look at this:

Pre-broken spaghetti! It's probably all sorts of wrong to serious fans of Italian food, but I'm delighted. No longer must I choose between breaking the spaghetti by hand (which is hard on the hands) and having it clump up, and have to be cut in the casserole. It's the little things. Speaking of which, as long as the pasta was on sale, I went for fun, too:

Just call me easily amused.

I'm working away on the second sock in the raspberry yarn. I do like the stitch definition of this yarn: the pattern shows up nice and clear. I briefly hated the yarn when I had that problem that I tried to fix by dropping down two stitches, then by ripping the whole thing back a few rounds. The yarn seemed to un-twist into multiple strands, and was a bitch to get back on the needles (not that fixing mistakes is my forte; how many of my knitting disaster stories start out, "I saw a mistake I made a few rows back, and tried to fix it by..."? But this was extreme). Once I got it straight again, though, it's been fine.

Still, my feelings for the yarn are "like", not "love", so I'll be interested, when this one is done, to move on to the Socks That Rock lightweight. I loved the mediumweight: how will the lightweight compare?

Light therapy update: I can not say that I found it easy to get up this morning, but! It was not as impossible as it has been recently. In the last few weeks, I've been abusing the snooze button, hitting it several times and falling desperately back to sleep at once each time. This morning I didn't want to get up, but I did, and before the alarm went off again. It's an improvement. Could still be a coincidence. I haven't noticed any other changes in health or mood or energy. Further updates as events warrant.

And how are the cats doing with the expanded perch area, you ask?

Well, there's been some of this:

And some of this:

So far, so good.

In conclusion, I'm not sure if The Awl is a "real" newspaper, or is more like The Onion, but I adore their headline about the engagement of Prince William:

Unemployed English Girl to Wed Soldier from Welfare Family

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Little of This, A Little of That

The Bruins held on last night to win over the Rangers, and came into tonight's game against the Panthers with that little 2-game winning streak I was hoping for. It amuses me that both Tyler Seguin and Mark Recchi scored, since Recchi, who I believe is the oldest player in the NHL right now*, came into the league in 1988-89, while Seguin was born in 1992. Yet they're playing together quite well. Funny game, hockey.

*He's older than I am! Long may he reign; it will be a dark day for me when there aren't any players in the NHL older than I am.

They're up 1-0 after 2 periods, but not playing well enough for my comfort. We shall see.

I mentioned on Sunday that I ordered a therapy light, to try to counteract the oh-shit-winter-dark-cold-doom-doooooooooommmmm feelings that come over me at this time of year. It actually arrived on Tuesday, much to my surprise*, since the free-super-saver-shipping said it would take 5 to 8 days or so. Anyway, I charged it and set it up, and started using it Wednesday morning. I don't want to overdo it, so I'm using the recommended "dosage" of half-power and 15 minutes**, and will see how it affects me, if at all, before I up anything.

*Not that I'm unhappy about how fast it came. Just, you know, surprised.
**Which fits neatly into my "reading the paper, with breakfast" slot on the schedule

It's early days yet, though I will say I had less trouble getting up this morning than I have had recently. Could be a coincidence, of course.

Most days, there are two women working together in the cube next to mine. I don't know who they are, or even what department they're in, but by the very nature of working together, they are talking much of the time. It can be a little annoying, though I understand these things happen in office environments, and after all I love my MP3 player for this reason among others.

Still. A few things that cross my mind:
  • Making an effort to talk quietly is appreciated, but one person shushing the other is surprisingly even more distracting than speaking loudly. Ssssshhhh!
  • Having your cell phone on at work is not my favorite thing. Not answering it promptly is just rude. Particularly when your subsequent conversations do not sound critical ("Have you looked in the closet?"), and yes I am judging your conversation. I wouldn't if I couldn't hear it, hint hint.
  • Putting your phone on vibrate is one of those things that seems like it's being considerate, but you know, I can hear it going bzzzz-bzzzz on the desk. Over and over.
  • If that was your lunch you were eating at 2:30 one afternoon, while working, then I sympathize. But your talking with your mouth full is something I could do without hearing (MP3 to the rescue again), and the strong odor of vinegar drifting into my desk area had me thinking longingly of nose plugs.
Not very professional, I think.

My mother arrives 4 weeks from tomorrow for Christmas. Wow! As a kid, it seemed that the time from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas was endless, but not these days. Zoom! Whoosh!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Posting Between Periods

The Bruins are up 2-1 after the second period at MSG, and I have to admit that when Tyler Seguin lit the jets and scored on a breakaway, I snickered, "Thank you, Kessel." Here's hoping they have a good third period; winning two in a row would be nice.

Speaking of which, after the Bruins won Monday night, 3-0, I heard the sports announcer on the "I listen to it for the traffic reports" news radio station refer to the win as a Monty Python moment, and he played a clip from Holy Grail:

Which is just not a reference I expect from a news station. I love it, but I don't expect it.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I would have been on time to work today if not for the accident on one of the highways (which the traffic report didn't mention until I was almost through the backup, thanks guys). A pace of 2 miles in 30 minutes has that delaying effect. Still, at least I wasn't in the accident. It meant working late tonight, though, and that meant it was fully dark when I left work. Ugh.

But stitch and bitch was fun:
  • I started sock number 2 today
  • one of the women told us that her mother asked her how her "knit bitch" was, which has to be the funniest reference to a stitch and bitch I've ever heard
And the Bruins are (ssh!) winning. Off to watch the end of the game.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

After making this list, I see why I'm tired

Progress today:
  • I emptied the dishwasher (which I ran yesterday), and have hand-washed the rest of the pile (including the big pot, which I got out to use for the applesauce and found to be insufficiently cleaned after its last use, ick).
  • Made applesauce. The smell of it, bubbling on the stove, made me happy. Having it in the fridge, and heading to the freezer for later consumption, makes me very happy. Though for sure, it was too many apples this year. Not a bad problem to have, is how I'm thinking of it. Another bout of applesauce is in my future. And some apple crisp. Mmm.
  • Made spaghetti pie for dinner. Between this and the applesauce and the backlog, a fair lot of dish-washing has been going on. My back hurts.
  • Cleaned out the fridge. This does not include cleaning the fridge, but is an essential precursor.
  • Four loads of laundry done and put away (except for the dainties, air-drying).
  • Rearranged the office perch cat area a little.
After a lot of this:

I thought they might appreciate more space.

Right now, of course, they're curled up together on the old space, leaving the elbow room empty save for one extended paw. But give it time.
  • Paid some bills.
  • Photographed the new sock, in "daylight" that mostly changed the color of the yarn.
Not really the right color.

Much closer.

Is it just me, or is that heel the neatest thing ever?

Just me, eh? All right. I can live with that.
  • Took the big pot that had held the basil plant down cellar for the winter. I won't tell you how long it languished on the counter, but it's nice to have the space back. I'm going to miss the basil, but that's winter for you. Speaking of which...
  • Ordered a therapy light.
Yeah. I'm tired of feeling tired all the time, and the doom-cloud of oncoming winter, and decided to try it. Works for some people, hopefully it will work for me. It's getting dark by 4PM, and I hate that! It makes me feel like the evening's over, and I'm out of time, before it even starts. Ugh. I'm with Hamlet's uncle, during the play-within-a-play:
Give me some light!
I will, of course, report back.