Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hockey, hockey, hockey

I was looking online recently to see if there were Bruins pet sweaters, or something similar (I'll explain why in a minute), and I happened across the NHL shop and the many objects for sale there. The short answer is that there was nothing there for pets. But what a lot of amazing things there are, for the Bs fan with some extra cash in his* pocket!

*Or her pocket, of course, but I'm not buying most of this stuff even if I win the lottery. If I bought anything, it would probably be the Bruins Tervis tumblers (in many different sizes, yet!). But I think I can live without even them.

Among the Bruins items available are some wonders, including a Bruins-specific Mister Potato Head, Bruins-garbed rubber duckies, and my personal favorite, in the I-would-never-buy-it, but-am-amazed-it-exists sense, Bruins Tiffany lamps. Seriously. Take a look.


And why was I looking for pet gear from the Bruins? Well, it just so happens that my beloved Bruins are facing Kate's beloved Flyers in this round, so it's wager time, and we're working out a bit of a deal. That is, Kate threw down the gauntlet, and as a loyal Bruins fan of very long standing, I have to pick it up. The thing is, though, what fits the criteria of mailable Boston delicacy? If Philly wins the series (ouch), what should I send Kate? I'm drawing a blank so far. Even when I lived in NC, I can't think of any really-Boston-specific thing I craved. (Mum, do you remember anything?) Boston is known for lobster, chowder, Boston cream pie, Boston baked beans ... either not mailable or not (in my opinion) delicacies. What am I forgetting? Do I have to go to a tourist trap to jog my memory?

Meanwhile, as I'm not knitting for my cats (I have too much yarn in my home to want them to learn that yarn can be for cats to play with), I was curious what else might be out there, hence the search above. I wasn't really planning to buy them anything, so I'm not worried that the answer was Not Much.

Meanwhile meanwhile*, Game One was this afternoon. And the Bruins did really well, coming out strong, not letting up, and winning 7-3 in the end. The power play is still powerless, and they took too many penalties themselves, but otherwise it was a good overall effort and fun for a Bruins fan to watch, with a cat on her lap and knitting in her hands.

*which is the equivalent of saying, "On the other other hand..."

And if I sound pleased but not exuberant, it's because in a 7-game series, fans usually get to wear both masks. We enjoy the smiling side, but don't expect it to last forever. Enjoy today.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oh, whew. No news. Just whew.

I am indecently excited for a quiet night in, if that isn't too contradictory. Actually, I am more like sleepily content at the idea. A peaceful evening and early to bed sounds like just what the doctor ordered. Life has been go-go-go lately, hasn't it?

Oh, that Bruins game last night. Up! Down! Back! Forth! Bruins score (twice), Montreal scores (twice). Bruins score (once), Montreal scores (once). Overtime! I was so worn out that when the Bruins scored to end it, to win the game and the series, I was more relieved than excited. This series was emotionally exhausting. And don't think they didn't know it:

No kidding.

Funny moment from game 7: Playing off the Canadiens' fan chant of Ole Ole, I saw a sign in the crowd that said something along the lines of "See you Ole-ter!"

And now they play Philly, who historically ended their season a year ago (remember?). Oh, this will go well, I'm sure. I'll be watching Saturday afternoon, game 1 (you, too, Kate?).

Yesterday was such a crazy day that when I wrote last night I never even mentioned the weather, and for once it was lovely! Not perfect, it was cloudy too much for that, but warm! Why, 80, even! I loved it, so of course today was 70 and rainy, and the forecast for the next few days is in the 60s. Oh well. Having open windows has been wonderful, and it will come again. I just keep telling myself that.

Carlos will not be pleased when I close the windows, though. He was nervous when I first opened them last weekend, startling at noises and sniffing suspiciously, but he quickly transitioned to an imperious, "This window is not fully open! Open it at once!" attitude.

I heard about a Sheepshearing festival in Massachusetts this Saturday, but in the end I've decided not to go. It isn't impossibly far from me, and sounds like it might be a fun little thing to do on a nice day, but due to a combination of two factors*, I decided to pass.

*I might still have tried it if one or the other was the case, but both? Nah.

First, the Bruins game is Saturday afternoon at 3, meaning I'd have to get-up-and-go to have enough time to look around, and I hate doing that on a day off when I don't have to*; and second, it's $15 to get in. I mean, honestly, I know I'm cheap, but that's more than a day at Rhinebeck, for pity's sake. Can it be worth that? Hard to believe.

*Especially when I'm out late the night before, which I will be tomorrow.

Finally, this morning's quote of the day from the Happiness Project really struck me:
"No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good....Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is."
C.S. Lewis
And it reminded me of the Oscar Wilde quote:
I can resist everything except temptation.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Step by Step, but Good News

Oh, it went well! It went well, and I liked both the HR person and the hiring manager, liked what they had to say about the job, and about the company, and I'm excited and nervous, and trying not to be too excited too soon*, and ... I have a feeling that I'm emitting vibrations on a frequency that humans can't hear. I was as jittery as ten cups of coffee, all afternoon.

*I know that someone could have walked in there this afternoon and knocked their socks off (even more than I did), and I have no control over that. I can only control what I do.

It went well, is the thing, and we've scheduled a second interview for next week. Good feelings, but please continue to cross fingers! (Tuesday morning, specifically.)

Even before I heard back from the company last week, I was contemplating what to wear to an interview, should I get one. I did a lot of pondering, and purposely didn't blog about it because for once I didn't want anyone else's opinion. This was a case of deciding what I was comfortable with, and no one else can decide that for me.

I didn't have trouble deciding on a specific knit top and jacket to wear, both dressy but still comfortable, and ones that I felt confident wearing. The main issue that took thought was whether to wear a skirt or pants/slacks/trousers, and I went back and forth on that. First I decided that wearing nice, tidy slacks was sufficiently professional ... then that I really had to wear a skirt, to show that I can be more formal ... back and forth.

Part of the issue is that the last interview or two that I wore a skirt to, I felt very overdressed, enough to be uncomfortable. In general life, I don't care tremendously what others think of what I'm wearing, but if you sit through an interview wearing a skirt, while your interviewer wears jeans, it just is not comfortable. So I weighed each side pretty thoroughly.

In the end, the skirts stayed in the closet. It turns out to be a casual office, like jeans are okay every day, and I felt that I looked professional, and not too casual, and was dressy enough for that office without looking like central casting sent me over from 1955. And as a bonus, I could go on to work (after removing the pearls) without my clothing screaming, "My 'appointment' this morning was a job interview!" Even though I then sat down with my boss to tell her that.

Now! Hockey! The Bruins couldn't get it done last night; it was a pretty pathetic effort, really. Maybe they just didn't want to distract me before the interview? Anyway, another day, another quote from Stanley Cup of Chowder:
I have been calling Habs fans clowns for a long time. My theory might be right after seeing the items that they bring to hockey games. What well-adjusted adult brings a rubber chicken to a hockey game and then throws it on the ice?
Exactly what I was asking! The Canadiens had a goal called back last night because the whistle had blown, and I don't blame them for being upset, but the fans started throwing things on the ice, and the trash included a rubber chicken. What, you just happened to have one with you? Seriously?

Anyway. Off to game 7. It's tied at 2 after 2, and I am capital-N Nervous.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Quickly, the book edition

I was smothering laughter this morning at Stanley Cup of Chowder's take on the Bruins' power play (powerless play), which has been quite spectacularly useless of late, to the point that announcers are discussing if the Bruins should turn down the opportunity when a penalty is called on the other team:
"Claude Julien says the power play failures are due to the players being too tense right now. Good call. I'm sure it has nothing to do with having their ultra-mobile, ultra-skilled puck moving defenseman stand at the point, fake a slapshot and then pass across to Chara every goddamned time. Maybe the hope is that one of these times, Montreal's penalty killers will double over with laughter at the thought of Tomas Kaberle actually taking a shot, and then Boston will take advantage."
Yes! The PP has been pathetic*, and given that the Bruins gave up quite a lot to get Kaberle back in February, mostly in order to improve the PP, it is better to laugh than cry about how that's turned out.

*The Bruins are the only team in the playoffs who have yet to score on the power play. Ouch.

Anyway, I have a lot to do tonight, and my hands are rather aching (for no particular reason; arthritis is random that way), plus my chest is sore from the vise mammogram experience, so I'm going to throw this out there and leave you to it. Even if you don't have ten minutes to spare, watch the first couple: it's peculiarly fascinating, at least for book people.

If you don't have the time right now, well, here's a quick amazing thing to see:

The perfect bookcase for displaying a very specific group of books ... amazing!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Up and Down, This and That

It seems impossible--feels impossible--that it can have been two years since my dad died, but so the calendar tells me. Isn't time the strangest thing?

The pain is not so sharp, not so frequent as it was. But it's still there, of course.

Oh, Shut Up
Some days I would like to kill the man who sits near me at work and whistles randomly throughout the day. Holy crow, man, STOPIT.

(I'm sure he doesn't even realize he's doing it. And it feels incredibly petty to bring it up, plus he's the sort of person to give me a hard time about it forever. [The morning after the Bruins went down by two games, he saw me, laughed, and said, "Go Habs!" Ha. Ha. Then later, it was, "Just kidding!" Uh-huh.])

Which leaves me fantasizing about hitting him in the throat with a blunt instrument. I think that would cut off outgoing noise, don't you?

Careful How You Transcribe That
One of the Bruins blogs today quoted Claude Julien as saying, " certainly shows that there’s parody in this league..."

I'm relatively certain that the coach actually spoke of "parity", though I suppose given the NHL these days, it's not an impossible stretch. The first (and so far, only) commenter summed it up nicely: "Yes, there is parody in the league, plenty of it, but there’s also parity."

And Yes, Interview Thoughts
Preparing for an interview without getting too crazy about the interview, well, that's a fine line to walk. Especially since my last interview was all the way back in September, and while it seemed to go well, it led exactly nowhere. I keep telling myself that even if this doesn't work out, I need the practice. Which is true, and also not all that comforting, but hey, that's why they invented unisom, right?

For perspective, I just remind myself that I'd far rather have Carlos's clean bill of health than this job, which is true. I don't even know if this job is right for me (and vice versa), while I know I love the fur-baby, and want him to stay healthy. So there's that.

And as for tomorrow evening (aka The Night Before), the good news is I have distractions. I go from work to get a mammogram (woo, that's not a phrase I expect to follow "good news"), then the Bruins play at 7. Those should help keep my mind from retreading the well-worn path to crazyville.

And will I go to the near-work stitch and bitch Wednesday night, aka The Night After? That depends on how I feel at the end of the day. I may need to go straight home and crawl into bed. (Or on the couch, should the Bruins lose tomorrow night and require game 7.) Ah, the uncertainty! A week ago, so far as I knew, I was working where I am for the foreseeable future. Now, who knows? The situation may change, and that would be for the better, but it's unpredictable, isn't it? You may have picked up on the fact that I'm not the biggest fan of change, or uncertainty, or unpredictability.

And hey, as long as we're on the topic of resumes, or at least in the neighborhood of the topic, can I ask your opinion? I recently read a short but humorous rant about resumes, asking why would someone have their address on their resume, because "What do I need your address for anyway? Telegram inviting you to an interview?" and I laughed while at the same time feeling much taken aback.

It never occurred to me, never once crossed my mind, to take my address off my resume. Yet when I think about it, no, I do not expect to be contacted that way. I expect either a phone call or an e-mail, and prefer the latter. But ... but ... somehow over the years I added my e-mail address, and even, recently, LinkedIn profile address, to the standard name-address-phone#, without ever thinking of taking anything off.

I have seen the job search change vigorously in under ten years, and I know that things that are taken for granted today would have shocked me just a few years ago. I also know that I'm old school, being middle-aged and all. So I thought I would ask you all for your opinion:
Would you remove your address from your resume? Have you? Will you?
It's weird when the world changes around you, fast enough for the eye to see.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunny Sunday Morning

The weather this morning was a very pleasant surprise. I opened the door to pick up the paper and my first thought was an almost puzzled, "But it's not cold!" In fact, it was about 60, so I came in and opened windows, and have had lovely fresh air blowing through, disturbing the fur-tumbleweeds. The accompanying noises are not all pleasant (the kids next door and that freaking basketball, plus whoever decided to give the little girl a bell and horn for her tricycle, and then let her sit on it alternately ringing and honking, for five minutes straight), and the cats are not yet sure this is As It Should Be, but overall very enjoyable, and unexpected. The rain is due in this afternoon, so I'll close up before I go to friends for dinner, but it's a welcome change, a literal breath of fresh air.

The weather yesterday was about 40 and raining, so I ran a few quick errands in the morning and then settled in for A Day of Hockey. I don't know if the NHL scheduled them this way on purpose, but yesterday's game times were all staggered, meaning four games and at least 12 straight hours of hockey. I didn't watch all of it, but I turned on the noon game and between laundry and so on, watched Tampa beat up Pittsburgh 8-2, then switched from Versus to NBC at 3 and saw the Capitals eliminate the Rangers (first handshake line I've seen this season), before switching to NESN* for The Game at 7 (pregame coverage at 6). The Bruins won--in double overtime! Exhausting, but that was certainly my desired result. It didn't finish until after 11, which left me disinclined to tune in to the 10:30 game on the west coast, so LA beat San Jose without me, and live to play another day.

*NESN is the local station; this game was also carried on Versus, but I read this morning that they announced at the end that Montreal now had a 3-2 series lead, which is just wrong. Pay attention!

It's an interesting year: two of the eight series are done (4-0 and 4-1), but the other six are all at three games to two. The Bruins have a few days of rest, which I'm sure they need after last night, and play again on Tuesday. Today I'll cross my fingers on Kate's behalf that Philly can beat Buffalo.

Meanwhile, whether you think of crucifixion or chocolate eggs today, have a good one.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good News, Cubed

1. Carlos is fine.

The ultrasound revealed all looking as it should be. I knew I'd like the ultrasound vet when he came in and immediately noticed my OED (he has the magnifying-glass version himself). When he said that he couldn't see any problems? He's my new best friend.

The baby was very good, not wiggling during the exam (the other vet held his scruff, just in case), and in fact he mostly just lay there and waited for it to be over. When it was, he beat a dignified retreat and sat in the sunshine to recover.

Was hard work, have to rest now.

Are you coming for me next?
Thank you all for the prayers and well wishes. Whew! I feel like we dodged a bullet here. The vet suggests testing the bloodwork again in a few months, but she's not too worried, so neither am I.

2. The Bruins won. From being down two games, they're even again.

It wasn't their best game of the season, and they had to get it to overtime to do it, but they won, and the series is now tied at 2 games apiece.

Funny thing was, once OT started and I realized I wasn't breathing all that deeply, I gave myself a perspective talk about how their losing (game or series) would not be that big a deal, and I needed to not get stressed about it.

Not five seconds later, they scored. Well! Won't tomorrow night be interesting. So far, the home team has lost every game. I want that to stop, please, since we only play once more in Montreal, and need two wins to advance.

3. Oh, and my interview is set for Wednesday morning at 9. Mark your calendars for finger-crossing then, please.

This afternoon, I drove to where the company is, to make sure I could find it, see how long it took, etc. It's about 8.5 miles each way (which compares favorably to 20, eh?), and granted, I wasn't going during rush hour, but it only took 25 minutes. It's in a pretty town, too, which is aesthetically appealing.


Prepare for four days of I'm-not-panicking, which I expect will leak into my blogging somewhat. (You think?)

Attempting to take advantage of the weather not completely sucking today (it was mid-50s, partly sunny, chilly breeze), since it's going to rain tomorrow, I went for a walk around the pond later. It's slightly under two miles, according to my research, and I pushed it to keep my pace going, and not stop*, and made it in 40 minutes. Some exercise, anyway!

*Except for a couple of photos, of course.

The appearance of depth is misleading.
Though he may be standing on a rock...

The trees are juuuuuust starting to turn green.

It's a very welcome sight.

Spring is edging into town, but so slowly, and I am in such a hurry for it! I eagerly look for trees sprouting leaves, for flowers and flowering bushes, for green grass, and every day see more, but there's still a lot of winter-bare to the views. And not enough warm.

But given points one, two, and three above, you understand that I don't really feel like complaining too much. I just throw it in, so you'll know that the blog hasn't been hijacked.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Another Small Step; Knitting Updates

Here's what I planned this morning to write tonight:
So, there's no cat news until tomorrow, the Bruins game is tonight, and I've heard nothing else about that job application. Let's talk about knitting instead!
However, at lunchtime I got another e-mail from the company where I applied for a job, asking about my availability for an interview, so that third thing is no longer strictly true! As you can imagine, I was doing some deep breathing this afternoon, trying to remain at least somewhat calm. There isn't a set time yet, but I will let you know when the mass finger-crossing is (hopefully next week sometime).

Until then, let's talk a little knitting after all! (We certainly don't want to talk about the Bruins--not after the way they played in the first period. Urgh.)

The sock that is purse knitting continues down the foot. I tried it on last night, since the Malabrigo sock that didn't fit is recent enough to be a painful memory. I knew this one would fit, as the yarn is my friend, but I tried it on all the same.

Perfect! (And notice the tail of the inspector.)

The sock that is bike knitting is growing, too. I'm waiting until it's a little longer to try it on, but will do so before the heel, since this is my first experience with this yarn.

It's pretty, though, right? I need to capture the colors better, but this is close.

I've all-but-finished the furry neck pillow. I got near to the end of the yarn at the near-work stitch and bitch last night, so I bound off and closed one end of the tube.

When I got home, I pulled out the fiber-fill I had (most of a bag) and stuffed the pillow. It wasn't enough to cram it full-full, but I don't want the pillow to be really overstuffed and stiff, I want it to be flexible, so I think this amount might work out. All the same, I didn't sew the end shut, I tied it off so I can test it out before I decided for sure. The pictures I took did not come out well, so I will have to try again.

Going to the stitch and bitch near work has been an interesting experience for me. I started going mainly to see a friend of mine who goes to it. I also like going because when I wait until after rush hour to drive home, the commute is much faster and easier. It's a large, friendly group of knitters, and the place where it's held has good food and drink options.

I am still going to my regular stitch and bitch group on Monday nights (most weeks I do both), which has been going on for about four years now. But that's a smaller group with less regular attenders, which means that there are still nights like this week, where I went and no one else showed up. Contrast that to the near-work group, where 8 other people showed up between 5 and when I left early (7) to go get my car at the shop. I wish the Monday group had more regular attendees, so I could be more certain of having company.

This morning at 4 o'clock, when I woke with cramps and an aching back, I was very glad to have the heated mattress pad on my bed. Woo. I rotated like a roast on a rotisserie, dozing, until it was time to get up. I feel better now than I did this morning, but better is a relative term. Codeine has been my friend today; tonight unisom and heat and lots of sleep will be my friends. And hopefully I will have happy Bruins dreams, though it doesn't look likely right now. But we have to hope.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bits and Pieces (worth sticking around to the end, though)

The week progresses slowly toward Friday. I'm not conscious of overwhelming stress levels, though I am a little more minor-headachy than usual. Not life-impairing pain levels, just small ouch. On the other hand, that could be PMS, because OF COURSE this is the week*. Way to go, universe.

*TMI? Sorry about that.

"I know!" says Mother Nature. "Let's take a pants-too-tight week, with impending PMS, and add pet-health-related stress! Fun!" Awesome. Excuse me while I go eat my weight in chocolate, then go shopping for a new wardrobe.

Yeah, not really.

I tried something a little different on the bike last night. Inspired by that NYT article I mentioned yesterday and the idea of interval training, I rode for a few minutes at my regular pace, then for about thirty seconds I went as fast as I could. Then back to regular, and did it again a few minutes later. My legs really felt like they'd worked harder than usual. We shall see.

I did my grocery shopping last night, and brought home lots of fruit, and the veggies to make that (no-tomato) salsa I love so much. Healthy and delicious! And I did not buy ice cream--which I managed by reminding myself that I want my clothing to fit, and then not even walking down that aisle.

Fellow yarn lovers, there's a contest at Tanis Fiber Arts you should check out. I've been reading their blog since I saw and fell in love with the jewel tones in their Fiddlehead Mittens (someday I will get the kit for that), and all you have to do for a chance to win some beautiful yarn is tell them your favorite of their colorways. The hard part is picking only one!

Has anyone been wanting to try Netflix? I got an e-mail from them offering a free month's trial for me to share with friends and family. Since that's how I tried it before joining, I thought I'd pay it forward and offer if anyone's interested. Let me know, before June 15th.

Just for fun today*, I tried to list all 30 NHL teams without looking them up. I got to 20 without slowing down, then up to 26 more slowly. At that point, I allowed myself to look at a US map, and got up closer (I forgot St Louis?!), even checking a Canadian map** to verify that there are only 6 Canadian teams. The last team I remembered (or the one I forgot the most) was Columbus. Got it!

*I know, not everyone's idea of fun. I enjoyed it!
**Not a map that shows the teams, just one that shows cities so I could confirm that I got all the ones with teams.

Actually, I did get a piece of good news today, a small but significant thing that might be a step in the right direction, job-wise (or, of course, may be a step that dead-ends, but don't rain on my parade). I applied for a job on Sunday, and was contacted by an HR person today with a couple of questions before passing my info on to the hiring manager.

It's not an interview, not yet, but it means that someone actually looked at my resume, and didn't circular-file it. Fingers crossed! I am so grateful to be working (and getting paid), but wouldn't I love a permanent job, wow.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Slightly Prickly In More Than One Way

Thanks for all the prayers and good wishes sent to me and Carlos. Since there's nothing I can do about the situation until Friday, my coping mechanism is to try not to think about it*, because getting myself upset before then is pointless. (Mah baybee!)

*Not that the thought doesn't cross my mind, but when it does, I take a deep breath, remind myself that he'll be fine, and think of something else.

I would try my alternate coping method, which involves ingesting comforting, sustaining amounts of chocolate, ice cream, and so on, but my trousers are already tight, which is motivating me today to TRY to control my eating, FTLOG. I've been doing better with the exercising thing over the last few months, but eating has been out of control. Oof. Everything is looking so good! I'm hungry!* I want!

*I also have problems with boredom-eating and but-it's-there-eating. Sometimes, though, I'm just hungry.

I almost choked the other day by laughing while eating. I was eating some raisins for a snack, and hoping that they would fill me up because I'm having such trouble with the food/snack/eating issue lately, and after all raisins are healthy, they're fruit! Then that little voice in my head reminded me that it wouldn't be healthy to eat a ton of them as a snack, even if they are fruit, and that reminded me of a character in a Dick Francis book who eats nuts and raisins by the pound because "they're healthy" and, well, cough. Ahem.

I didn't eat a ton of raisins, by the way. But I didn't measure the amount, either. Everything's so complicated. And there's only so much water I can drink, both because it gets boring, and because going to the bathroom every 37 minutes gets tiresome.

So, exercising. I continue to bike (and knit), and progress is up and down. One night I managed 20 consecutive minutes without agony, and the next barely made it to 7 minutes before hobbling to the couch. So who knows? I'm breaking a sweat, which is supposed to be good, right? (Honestly, this had better be helping; I'm going to be so pissed if it turns out all I'm doing is making myself sweaty--and hungry. Hungrier.) At least with the knitting, I have something concrete to show for the time. That's oddly comforting. Maybe I won't lose weight, but I'll gain socks.

After reading this article in the NYT about various methods of exercising, I tried some squats last night, too. (Though I used a hand to balance, instead of folding my arms across my chest; one thing at a time.) Easy to get down, harder and harder to get back up! Soon, the weather will make walking outdoors seem less like a punishment and more like a treat, and I can get out in the fresh air and burn a few calories there. Sustainability. Though clearly I have to control the eating, too. Which sucks, frankly.

Life. Don't talk to me about life. Yes, quoting Marvin the Paranoid Android is not a good sign. Perhaps this is a good day to end with some prickly pictures from the greenhouse visit.

Tomorrow will be better (despite bringing the car to the shop for brake work). Because I said so, that's why.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Half and Half


The Bruins have lost two games in their seven-game series, putting them halfway to school's-out-for-summer status. After tonight's game, they could be three-quarters dead, or they could be still half-dead, but have moved Montreal to one-quarter dead.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. And speaking of which...

Half Freaked

I mentioned that the vet was over recently to do bloodwork on Carlos. Despite my firm instructions to the universe that everything had to be fine because I am far from being over Pan and Harold, I learned today that he has some warning signs (high potassium etc) that could indicate kidney problems. Urg. Did you just hear my blood pressure go up?

One of the options is to wait a month and re-test, but I think we all know that I would be in the loony bin in less than a month from worry over the fur-baby. So I chose door number two, which is an ultrasound, on Friday*. And perhaps while they are here, they can check me to see if I have an ulcer by then. Honestly, universe, I am not as strong as you seem to think.

*Therefore, my apologies to you if this turns out to be the longest week in the history of the world for you, too.

Now everyone repeat after me: He'll be fine. He'll be fine. He'll be fine.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Well, Knitting Updates!

Well, I did feel better about the Bruins when I woke up this morning, or at least not as bad as I did last night (I went to bed and dreamed that they lost the game by a score of 16-0; ouch!). Still, the only bright side I can come up with is that if they keep playing this badly, it won't go on for much longer: they only have to lose two more games and they're out for the summer. More likely, they will win a game or two to raise my hopes, before tanking spectacularly again. Sigh. Let's talk about something else.

I feel as if I haven't talked about knitting much lately, and goodness knows I've been doing it! I did mention one current project, the furry neck pillow, and that's coming nicely. It feels so wonderful. Make that SO WONDERFUL. I want to finish it so I can start using it immediately.

  • The latest Socks That Rock skyp sock, my purse knitting, is just past the heel (of sock one), and I still love the yarn, yes I do.

  • I started a new sock to be my bike knitting. I'm using yarn I got at Rhinebeck in 2009, Foot Notes from Fiber Optic Yarn, so pretty. I'm doing the skyp sock pattern again, of course (is there another?), but I tried a new-to-me cast-on method that's supposed to be very stretchy (it's too early to tell). I had to sit in front of the computer and watch the video as I tried it, and it was mighty frustrating, for I couldn't tell that I was doing any differently the times it worked and the times it didn't. However, if it's nice and stretchy for the tops of my socks, I will practice. I would just prefer to pick up the new technique instantly, you know? Pft, learning curves.
I split the yarn into two balls, and re-winding half resulted in very different looking tightness. Can you believe they weigh the same? They do!

  • I made two swatches for the sweater project, but I only washed them today, so that's waiting for me to Get Around To It--measuring them, deciding if either needle size will do, etcetera.
  • Oh, and baby knitting!
Yes, the stealthy baby knitting can be revealed now that the baby shower has happened. Ta da!

The Making of A Secret Item
I started making a blanket for my pregnant friend who reads my blog (MPFWRMB) on Wednesday, February 16th. I had been considering various items, mostly blankets and sweaters, and decided that while I still may make a sweater, I was going with blanket first.

I wanted a really simple pattern, nothing too fussy to make, because working on the Frost Diamonds shawl was enough fussy, unsocial knitting for me at one time. I wanted something I didn't have to work too hard at*, that I could simply enjoy making and filling with happy-baby thoughts for good karma. (It seems to me like wrapping an innocent baby in an item that's been much cussed over is asking for trouble.)

*You understand, right, PFWRMB? It's nothing against you! I wanted to make you something lovely, just not something complicated.

I settled on the Garter Rib Baby Blanket pattern in mid-February, liking both the look of it and the incredible simplicity. Basically, it's knit every other row, and the other every other row, K3P3. Yes, it requires counting to 3 repeatedly, but once the pattern gets going, you can see at a glance if you've gotten it lined up correctly*, which is a nice math-check (if you can call counting to three actual math). So it was the winner, and I was struck on that Wednesday with a strong urge to go to a store and get yarn, start, now! (I had already checked the stash, but I didn't have anything in enough quantity that would do.)

*Unlike that "simple" basketweave pattern in Lion Brand Homespun, which still haunts me years later. That was a mistake.

I went to Michaels, since there was one near-ish to the place where I was meeting a friend (a different one, obviously) at her stitch and bitch after work. I wandered around the yarn area, squeezing this and considering the colors of that. I came down to two choices, and since I couldn't decide and both were on sale, I got both: Caron Simply Soft, a smooth-feeling acrylic in a lovely shade of yellow, and Lion Brand Wool-Ease in a beautiful blue (a little stereotypical for a baby boy, but it's a color I'd use for myself). Enough yarn for a blanket of each was just under $13 total, quite a deal, and I was handed a coupon for the chain's Presidents Day sale the upcoming weekend, for 25% off my entire purchase including sale prices. Whew!

Now, I didn't actually start the project at the stitch and bitch that night (I couldn't, I didn't have the needles with me). I did a little on the Frost Diamonds (the purl rows being social knitting, as long as I count the stitches before working the next pattern row to catch any mistakes), then worked on my sock a while before heading home ... and casting on for the blanket. I couldn't stop myself! I wanted to see how it would feel! I don't know that I'd ever knit on three different projects in the same day; cross that experience off the list*.

*I didn't know I had a list until I found myself knitting by bonfire light, just so I could say I had done it. Apparently this is a list of things I don't know I wanted to do until the opportunity presents itself. It's a nice peaceful list that way.

The yellow Simply Soft is what I chose, and it's a nice, soft yarn (I mean, obviously it should be with a name like that, but I'm reporting it anyway). Each row took about five minutes to knit, meaning:
  • it seemed very fast compared to the ever-increasing rows on the Frost Diamonds Shawl I was also working on, where the rows took about half an hour
  • it was the perfect length for "I'll just do a few minutes" on the exercise bike
On Saturday, March 26, I cast on for another secret project: a hat to match. Very cute, and very fast! The pattern is the Rib-knit Baby Hat, by Sorella and Company, and being a 3x3 rib means it matches the blanket very well. I used size 6 needles, instead of the 7 the pattern calls for, since I can't find two of my size 7 DPNs. The last time I used them was for Christmas 2009, so they could honestly be anywhere. They'll turn up someday, but until they do, you just can't make a circle with three needles. I was hopeful that the hat would be big enough on 6s; otherwise, I knew I could make another, bigger one.

You basically knit a long tube, then tie the top off with i-cord.

Cute, right?

I finished it while I was at Grandma's (the blanket and the hat, in fact), and decided to make a larger hat as well. Finished it the same day! Peaceful family visiting time being conducive to lots of knitting.

I don't seem to have a picture with both hats (could have sworn I took one), but anyway it's just the same as the first one, just slightly larger. I'm happy with how it all turned out!

The shower was Saturday, and MPFWRMB seemed to like them. Yay! Knit on.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tell Me I Will Feel Better About This Tomorrow

funny pictures - A  depressed  jus  hit  me.  Needs  a  cumfy,  cuddel  an  catnip.  Pleeze  tu  gib  me?

Yeah, the Bruins just lost again.

And the way they played, they deserved to.

And I do not believe that they can win two games in Montreal, as they would need to do to win the series.

I want to believe it. But I don't.

Off to apply chocolate to this feeling.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Oh, Friday night, how I love thee

It's all about surviving another week, which I feel silly even typing because how hard is my life, really? But sometimes living is more challenging than other times, and surviving with sanity (mostly) intact* feels like an achievement.

*Let's not talk about last night's Bruins game, okay? Perhaps I will want to talk about hockey after Game 2. Hopefully.

List Control

I am a list person. I have lists of things to do, with sub-lists, lists of things to get at the store (for multiple stores), notes on the brand of this or the style of that to look at, book lists ... and when it comes to carrying them around, together with coupons and calendars and all the various reminders, things can get messy. Ripped. Lost. Where did I put ... I thought I had it with me ... oh, what a mess.

I am happy to report, however, that I am having positive results from a simple new way to keep things together, which is demonstrating once again that the little things matter disproportionately.

When I got those new shoes recently, DSW put the associated paperwork into this little open-ended folder, presumably to keep it from getting lost in the box. I looked at it and thought, "hmm."

With standard business card for size comparison

So my to-do list (tasks broken down by at-home, computer, and out) is folded inside. My this-week calendar of errands, plans, and obligations, too. My grocery list, Target list, and coupons. Cat food label so I pick up more of the right flavor. The Starbucks postcard for a free drink, $3 CVS coupon, $1 off a dozen bagels, and Groupon car wash are all with me, and where I can find them when needed. All in a tidy little packet (about 4.5x6 inches) that fits in the side pocket of my purse.

Simple, sure. But it's making me happy!

Another thing that's making me happy this week is the little bitty pot of orchids that a friend gave me. I took some pictures the other day:

But then this morning, they were in the sun, and wow.

How gorgeous is that?

Well, almost as gorgeous as this:

He's in a snuggling mood tonight, and I'm off to give him a lap. Happy weekend to you! Any fun plans?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Quick, Game One is About to Start

This morning at work, I was talking to someone about the Bruins, and admitted that I'm nervous about how they'll do. He summed it up perfectly: "Depends which team shows up." The Bruins have been very up-and-down this year, more up than down but still. Some games, some periods, they've played practically perfect hockey. Then without warning, they start skating tentatively around, like they want to ask what they're supposed to do next. Maddening.

Plus, even if they do win, I have to agree with this hockey commenter: "the prospect of a 7 game emotionally draining series with the Canadiens is a double edge sword for me. On one hand it would be awesome entertainment to watch, but I don't like what it does for the chances of a lengthy run for the Bruins."

Yeah, that. The Globe blog tells me that this is the 33rd time the two teams have met in the playoffs, and while I know that goes back far before I was born, it does kind of feel like we play them every freaking year.

I did think of one good thing about facing Montreal, anyway*. Four to seven renditions of the Canadian National Anthem, which is a lovely thing. And in Montreal, they even sing part of it in French! And yes, I know all the words, in English and French (nerd alert, nerd alert**). Hopefully NESN will not deprive me of this consolation by going to commercial at the wrong time (as they do, sadly, sometimes).

*and when I thought of it this afternoon, I was in a grumpy kind of mood, but the lyrics in my head made me start smiling.
**French-studying, hockey-watching nerd alert, and more than that, I learned them during pre-Google days, aka college, when it was more than the impulse of a moment to dig up such information.

O Canada! Go Bruins!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

NHL Playoff Thoughts, Briefly

The NHL playoffs start tonight; the Bruins play tomorrow night, kicking off the millionth series against hated rivals Montreal. It was a match-up I personally was hoping to avoid, since they're a team that historically has been a challenge for Boston. I'm afraid that either Montreal will win, or Boston will win but will be so HYPED UP from the series that they'll plummet in the second round.

Plus, last year's pratfall is still fresh in the mind (one of those things you'd like to forget, but no chance). Basically, it's a scary time of year, and 1972 was a long time ago.

In the Puck Daddy Cup Prognostications for this year, 8 of the 9 "experts" have the Bruins beating Montreal, and six then have the Bruins going to the Cup final. Only one predicts they'll win there, but still, it was fun reading. However, I imagine I'll still be watching through my fingers.

Now if you'll excuse me, I got home late (knitting, then Target), and I'm going to pet the kitty, ride the bike, and get ready for bed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Maps of Where I've Been

Where I've been (US version):

visited 21 states (42%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

I tried not to count places where the only time I've been there was to change planes (Atlanta, Chicago, etc), but did count places that I've at least driven through (Delaware) and may or may not have stopped. I was on the ground of more than just the airport, it counts. Even if I just nicked the corner, like Tennessee and West Virginia.

I once planned a driving trip from NC to Florida, and if that hadn't fallen through, I would have the entire Eastern seaboard, but until I make it to Georgia for real, there's a gap there. And my goodness, there's a lot of the US that I haven't seen (yet, anyway).

Then there's the rest of the world:

visited 18 states (8%)
Create your own visited map of The World

It amuses me to see all of Canada light up, when I've only ever been to the Maritimes.

visited 3 states (23.0%)
Create your own visited map of Canada

I mean, I understand that's how it works, but that's kind of a big difference.

Pretty fun! Do let me know if you do one; I'd love to see it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Of traffic and weekend and foreign assets

In the morning, as I'm getting ready to go out the door, I watch the time to see if I'll catch the 7:43 (or 7:53) traffic report while I'm in the kitchen, or once I'm in the car. After I hear it, I usually switch to music in the car, rather than trying to catch the following traffic updates. After that day last week and then this morning, though, I think I need to make more of an effort to listen to the follow-ups, because yes, I got caught in extra-special traffic again this morning (I learned that it was caused by a disabled vehicle in the second lane only when the tractor-trailer in the second lane next to me started moving into the third lane, where my car was already existing--eep).

It's still better than taking the bus and the T. Just for the record.

Weekend Wrap-up

So yeah, it was a good weekend. A friend came over Saturday afternoon to watch the Bruins' penultimate game of the regular season (which they won, thank you), and then in the evening another friend came over for dinner and general (often bookish) chat. It was a nice day, but between those events and the vet coming by in the morning*, about the only chores accomplished on Saturday were dish-washing-related (well, and a quick vacuum).

*She wants to run bloodwork on him, so keep those fingers crossed. She was very pleased that he's lost weight since going to a wet-food-only diet starting back in November, which apparently lowers his risk of complications considerably.

Happily, Sunday was not one of my headache days, so I had time to get laundry caught up, bills paid, and all sorts of other little things like changing the sheets and ... and ... it felt like more than that ... well, and cat-lap time, of course. And watched most of the Bruins game, though as they didn't play too well I changed the channel quite a bit. The playoffs start Thursday, and by the way the Bruins played, that's what they were thinking about. It would have been nice if they could have won Sunday, but never mind.

In hindsight, I should have gone for a walk instead of watching the game; hindsight's kind of annoying that way. The weather was decent yesterday, but I decided I'd be happier if I Got Things Done (which I think wasn't a bad choice). Today's weather was even nicer, and when I left work at 5, the temp was in the mid-70s, just lovely! Of course my next day off, the forecast is for 55 and thunderstorms. Naturally. I am getting tired of saying, "At least you don't have to shovel it!"

Still, the first trees are starting to bud and bloom, and though Spring isn't coming fast enough for me, it is coming. It is.

Now, for a final comic note: I got one of those scam e-mails! I've never actually gotten one of those "millions of dollars from Nigeria" messages that I've read about, and for some reason it tickled my fancy.




See, the money comes to me because I'm a foreigner! Like the customer who died along ago! It makes perfect sense. Unfortunately for him, as an English major and avowed word nerd, I could never get in touch with him, because I can't forgive the YOU'RE/YOUR mistake. Also, I don't know how to step to follow. Do you?

Cracks me up, I say. Have you ever gotten one like this?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Of Yarn and Cats and end of the weekend

It's been a good weekend, and between the having fun and the getting things done, I'm too tired to go into detail. But I will say that I'm in the process of turning this:

into this:

or actually this:

(it started as this, and it's soft like petting a cloud)

Also, I interrupted this:

which from another angle is like this:

and then this:

And though the photo quality is not the best, the feline quality is supreme.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Notes on Exercise, Knitting

More than one person has asked me how I can knit while riding the bike, and from the tone, it wasn't the are-you-nuts question that I, for instance, would be tempted to use on someone out jogging in sleet. I believe the question is more literal than that, though upon further consideration, I'm not exactly sure if it's meant logistically (where do you put the yarn?) or more physically (how do you keep your balance?), or perhaps some other way that I'm not catching on to. (If you think of another interpretation, share, would you?)

For the first interpretation, I hang a small bag on the handlebars with the yarn in it, so I can pull it out a little at a time and it won't get tangled in anything. I did pull it out too far once, and the trailing yarn wrapped around a foot pedal, but I realized it at once (hard not to) and stopped to untangle it. I've been more careful since, and it hasn't happened again.

For the second, the bike is located in a corner, next to a wall, so my arm from elbow to shoulder leans slightly on the wall, which is enough to keep me upright, even balance-challenged as I often am.

I have found that the exercise is not suited to a project too large or heavy to hang loose from the needles. If you drape the finished end over your arm, it's rather warm when exercising. Smaller or lighter projects work better.

Speaking of which (and we kind of were), can we talk knitting project bags?

I don't know if many of you are knitters (are any of you knitters? why don't I know? tell me!), but if you are perhaps you'll understand that I'm currently experiencing a lack-of-project-bags situation. I have a couple of small ones, sock-project sized, that I like a lot, but once the project is a little bigger, I'm using shopping bags and awkward totes and being unsatisfied. When I snagged a project on the zipper of a bag (that purports to be a knitting-friendly bag, but I THINK NOT), it really firmed up my need for a better solution.

I don't think my desires are so ridiculous. I want a bag that will:
  • stand up on its own: not rigid, necessarily, but structured
  • not have heavy handles that drag it down
  • shut with a drawstring or magnets or something that yarn can't snag on
  • have medium or medium-large capacity
  • have some pockets
I saw mention of the Flo bag from Lexie Barnes in the new Knitty, and it does look good. Lexie Barnes bags are supposed to be high-quality, or so I've osmosed. I've never seriously considered one because OMG the prices. But perhaps it's worth it? I mean, if I get years of satisfied use out of it?

Still, $125 is a lot of money, and I don't even love any of the fabric choices. So probably not. Which leaves me where I am.

On a slightly more helpful (Knitty) hand, I never even thought of having a bag for my yarn swift, but what a good idea! Mine just lays on top of a yarn-storing thing*, half on the wrapping it came in (for cushioning? or something?). And to totally mangle a Douglas Adams quote**, to go from complete ignorance of a thing to intense desire for it in the space of a few minutes is an unsettling sensation. (Though Dirk was faced with an electronic I Ching calculator, of course, not a bag for one of his yarn tools.)(I seriously doubt Dirk had any yarn tools at all.)(Though I think the philosophical nature of knitting would have appealed to a man who often mused on "the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.")

*It's like a medium-sized (plastic) chest of drawers, holding yarn and tools.
**I don't actually own a copy of The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, but it was one of the first audiobooks I owned, and I listened to it so often, I can recite whole sections of it.

So, I don't really have a conclusion to this. It's Friday night, I'm not feeling 100% (just a funny tummy, basically), and, you know, there we are. Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

An Odd Little Phone Story

I picked up my phone last night to call in a prescription refill, and found to my surprise that I had no dial tone. I'm not a big phone person, and I don't use the land line all that much (I've converted to the Cell Side of the Force far more than I ever thought I would), so I don't even know how long it had been out. Much wrestling with support options led me finally to the live chat--that's where you're typing live* to a support person. He tested the line to confirm that it wasn't their problem, then told me to unplug all the phones from the jacks so he could test it again.

*I know, I know, as opposed to typing dead. You know what I mean!

Grumbling a bit, I went to the jack to unplug it ... and it was already unplugged. The hell? It didn't just fall out, and the cats lack the opposable thumbs to pull it out. It's behind a bookcase. How did that happen?

I went back to the chat and apologized for taking his time with my goof (he was nice about it, though I imagine the "you won't believe this idiot" stories get shared on breaks). And I realized, when checking the line for that dial tone, the line was buzzing a few times first, which means that I had messages on my voice mail.

Voice mail. See, I'm old school: I still use my answering machine. What, it works! But when the line didn't get through, calls went to my never-even-personalized voice mail (for the system I got in January 2010, ahem). Hmm. I was too tired last night to deal with it, so I left it to tonight. Because I had to learn how to access the VM, and I didn't figure that would be easy.

And it wasn't, but it wasn't that hard, though they made me do all the personalizing first, before letting me listen to the ...

... six messages? Six?

Dating back to March 9th?

Well, I guess that weird thing was unplugged for a while, huh? And I never even noticed. Interesting. It probably happened when I was moving things around in the office ... though I don't quite see how, that was about when.

Four of them were auto-calls from the pharmacy, no big deal, and one was confirming a doctor's appointment that I remembered all by myself.

But Mum, back on March 19th, I wasn't ignoring you! Promise!

Postscript: there was a message on the answering machine when I got home today, too; when it rains, etc. Why is a sales guy from the Bruins calling me, do you suppose? Just to encourage me to buy tickets? That's pretty random.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Flowers and Muppets. What do you mean, non sequitur?

Despite listening to the traffic report on the radio this morning, I somehow missed news of an accident on one of the highways I take to work. Thus, I got to spend about 20 minutes in truly awful traffic (not even stop-and-go, this was more like stop-and-g-and-stop). That's no way to start the day, particularly when it's cold, and you left a warm bed and snuggly cat to go to work. You know, just for example.

I think I'm just feeling a little extra fragile and inward-facing this week, though I don't know why. But you don't have to know why, to know how to handle it, right? I need to take it easy and quietly for a few days (and also vacuum before Saturday, when I'll have people in the house). While I take care of myself, though, I have a few fun things to share with you. Go! Look!

This hand-made Muppet Theatre is tremendously, almost unbelievably awesome. Some people are amazing in their creativity. Fantastic!

The Globe's Big Picture very kindly gave me gorgeous photos of flowers today. I could have done without the enormous bugs in a few of them, but overall they're beautiful.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Quick Weekend Update, and more greenhouse to close

Shaking up your routine is supposed to be good for you, but I find it very tiring. Of course, part of that could be the driving; almost six hours in the car yesterday, navigating in the rain, has left me with a knot at the back of my neck and sore hips. Oy, I am old. I'm glad to report no headache, though. I did have a wisp of one yesterday morning, so I took a pill and slept for another hour, and it never developed into anything. I'm very grateful not to have added that handicap to the drive.

So physically I'm sore, and emotionally I'm a little ruffled from being thrust out of my comfy rut. Was it worth it? Yes! I had a really nice weekend. I was happy to see Mum and Grandma, and they were happy to see me. The worst of Friday's weather was at home, and no new snow to speak of in NY--weird for there to more east than west, but I was happy. I got to show off recent yarn purchases and finished objects to an appreciative audience, and got a lot of knitting done (photos and details to come). We took Grandma out for an early celebration of her upcoming 97th birthday, and generally ate very well. Lots of hugs!

The snowdrops were out:

And Grandma's cat, Junior, who is only more relaxed about people than Miri is because she's been inside years longer, actually got close enough to me to sniff my slippers. It was a record moment.

And then I came home again. I was checking my e-mail* last night when Carlos came along, so I got on the futon and lured him up with me. He snuggled right up, and I rubbed his belly and got the purr started, and it was snuggly and wonderful. I missed him.

*Sorry, AP, I doubt I'll change to email any time soon. Habit!

Last night's Bruins game was ... disappointing. The first half of the game was very enjoyable, and the Bruins deservedly went up 3-0. But given that the final score was 5-3 the other way, I can only assume that during the commercial breaks, the real Bruins were switched out for their non-hockey-playing doppelgangers, and I hate those guys. Fortunately, I was too tired to dwell on it last night. Whump! I hit the bed hard. Tonight I'm planning to do the same, only earlier. Like now.

So I will leave you with some more photos from the greenhouse. The temperature this morning was very mild, but it was chilly and rainy by the time I left work, and I am really ready for some spring.