Monday, August 31, 2015

A Quick Note on a Quick Knit

(Strangely enough, while emotionally I've been fine today, physically I'm a bit of a mess: sore lower back since this morning, slight headache this afternoon. Oh, and did I mention that since last week my face is breaking out like a teenager's? What I'm saying is, let's talk about something else. Knitting!)

The last time I got my hair cut, I learned that my hairdresser is going to be getting cancer treatment, and was in fact going wig shopping that day. I (naturally) offered to knit her a hat. Although I did mean it, it was casually said, but she was very touched and clearly delighted by the idea. So, okay then. A hat.

Last week, I realized that I have my next appointment this Friday, so I picked up a ball of yarn (the yarn I'm using for the blanket, in fact, nice and squishy and machine-washable, and before you ask yes I have plenty), and found a simple pattern to work with it (the Expedition hat). And a few days later, I had this:
I'm pretty pleased with it. I hope she likes it.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Night, All Right

I think it's a good sign that I'm not feeling heavy Sunday-night dread, don't you? Not that I'm excited to work tomorrow, exactly, but not dreading it. It's been a good weekend, and I know morning will come too early, but oh well. I had some friends over today for what I hope will be the first of multiple new-TV-old-movie events; we watched the Philadelphia Story, which two of us have seen and two had not, and it was very enjoyable. Quite an experience on the big TV! Tonight, though, I'm wishing for hockey. A few weeks yet before that will happen.

Thank you all for weighing in on the question I asked yesterday. I'm still trying to decide. Meanwhile, Belmont has come in to yell at me, which I am taking as a sign that I should get moving. I have to balance my checkbook before I can get to bed. Being an adult is not what I was expecting...

Saturday, August 29, 2015

An Odd Kind of Question

The moon is gorgeous tonight, full and golden and haloed. It was rising as I drove home from a dinner with family/friends, and I wanted to stop and just look at it.

Other than the dinner, I spent most of the day cleaning and tidying. You might think that in the past few months, as I was not working, I would have had plenty of time to keep up with such things, and you would be right in the sense that I had the time, but I wasn't doing it. Somehow working, and getting the workspace organized, helped me see more clearly how messy everything else had become. Ugh. My right shoulder, which has been sore recently for no real reason, is sore tonight for a purpose. But things are looking better.

I have an oddball question I am pondering. When I took down the shelves that were on top of the file cabinet, I took down what was on the shelves, which was largely but not solely photos. Part of the "not" was two small wooden boxes that hold Pan's and Harold's ashes. And I kind of don't know what to do with them.

I got them because it seemed like I should, like it was the thing to do, that it would provide that mythical closure people talk about. But now, five and six years later, having the ashes does not make me feel good in any particular way. They don't make me burst into tears to see them, or anything like that, but to be honest I have hundreds if not thousands of pictures of the boys that are, to me, much more their memorials. They were great cats, I loved them, I hated when they died, but ... the ashes don't add any value, so to speak, to the relationship or memories of it. And I don't see the point in keeping something that brings me only faint sadness.

But. What do I do with them? It seems wrong to just throw them away. Pretentious to scatter them. I have nowhere to bury them, not that I'm sure that would feel right either; anyway, I don't want to put them in a pet cemetery. So, what am I not thinking of?

Sorry if it's a bummer of a question, but I just haven't been able to come up with an answer to this one.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Evolving Desk Set-Up

It hasn't been a bad week, as far as returning to work after so long could have been, but I was ready for today to end before it did. Kinda tired, here.

It may be that when I got to work last night on moving things around in the office, I overdid it a little, but while it isn't completely done, I did reach a point where I had to keep going in order to make the space usable for today. Which I did, though things will continue to change as I go, I'm sure. This morning, I had this:

You might notice that the drawers are not in the desk. That is because they were still on the living room floor.
Making use of my resources! They are back in now, files in cabinet and drawers in desk; I was motivated to move them pretty quickly, as I have friends coming over on Sunday, and this did not, I think, add to the ambiance. Plus I need to vacuum.

I moved things around a bit during the day, like putting the stack-able organizer over to the left, where it doesn't cast a major shadow from the lamp, which also made room to work with. Or, you know, for my sidekick.
She came and just sat next to it for quite a long time this morning, zoning out as she is wont to do, and then decided that curling up was called for. Zzzzz for hours, stirring occasionally, and getting up once or twice to turn around and settle down the other way. Tough life. At the end of the work day, she came wandering out to the living room all, "Hey, you moved," and curled up on the back of the sofa to continue napping. Tough, tough life.

But back to the office. I may have to replace the rug with one that's more square. In the new situation, this one only kinds-sorta fits the floor space around all the obstacles, it isn't quite covering the area I want it to, and when I move, it's easy for things to slip around. We'll see.

Want to see something else? I got a new water bottle. I know, who cares, right? Well, it is both functional (Tervis) and cute.
And it was on sale. Trifecta!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Happy Birthday to You

(You know who you are.)

Based on today's experience, I think I was right in predicting that being in a separate location from my boss, so that I can wonder aloud what she is thinking, will be very therapeutic. Today was fine, don't get me wrong, but there was a moment when it was good to be able to say aloud, "She can't possibly think that..." We've picked up right where we left off, but distance is key.

Now, on to Project Deskification. The list I came up with yesterday goes like this.
  1. remove files from cabinet
  2. remove items from shelves on top of cabinet, and move shelves
  3. move cabinet over, possibly sliding current computer table over to the wall, and removing rug etc under table
  4. put files back in
  5. move litter box out from under neighboring table, determine new location
  6. move desk into place, put in drawers, put chair and rug back in place
  7. arrange the computers etcetera on the new desktops (plural!)
  8. get a cork board! Around three feet by two feet, to hang over the new desk
I have started step 1. Won't get it all done tonight, obviously, but chipping away.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cats At Work, and a Potential Good Book

One of the things I'm liking about working from home is the opportunity for a quick bit of fuzz therapy as desired. Sometimes I go to the cats, and sometimes they come to me.

Several times on Tuesday, Belmont came along and meowed at me, and seemed to like it when I picked her up and petted her, reading over her shoulder while I did, and then I would put her down and she seemed okay with that. This morning, however, she was much more insistent, and I came to realize that, a, I was probably going to need to put a cat bed on the new desk setup, and b, if I wanted to get any work done before that setup happened, I'd better come up with an interim plan.

So I moved a small cart next to the desk and put a blanket in the top section, and after some initial protests, we achieved peace.
Not long after that, Himself came along and wanted some loving, too, and the next thing I know, there was this between me and the keyboard.

He spends most of his day on the bed or in the window, but there are times when a boy wants his mama. He proceeded to lie down and make himself comfortable, or as much as he could when I wouldn't let him be on the keyboard. After a while, unable to fully stretch out, he left. But near the end of my work day, he came back.

So, although I'm not sure there's going to be room for two cat beds on the desks, something may have to be done.

I did bring the desk in from the car (oof), so getting it set up will be the next step. It's pretty solid, and a good size. I think it will do nicely, once I've moved things around a bit.
This was in the kitchen: I have since moved it into the office, and made a plan for what has to happen, in what order. Which will not be happening tonight.

Quite a few years ago, I signed up for the Books-A-Million book preview club, which emails the start of a different book every week, Monday through Friday, so you can get a taste of them and see if you want to read more. (Sadly for BAM, when I do want more, I go to the library, rather than buying it.) I get the fiction, mystery, and sci-fi samples, and quite often I at least try them out, though sometimes I don't end up finishing the books.

I bring this up so I can share one with you, which sent me to the library to request before the week was out. Obviously, I don't know if I'm going to like it, but I like the writing style, the author's tone, enough to guess that I will. I had liked Monday's and Tuesday's bits, but then I came to this:
Ben is twenty-six, and this is his first job. He is small, weedy, and terribly, terribly serious about his work. "His." Not anyone else's. He despises everyone else's.
And boom, requested. The book is A Murder of Magpies, by Judith Flanders, and I will report back on it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Early Opinion: Is Good

So, I know, it's been all of one day, but still: so far, I like working from home. There's a lot to be said for it, as I suspected would be the case.

I am pondering how best to fit the new adjunct desk (currently in the car, though I've brought the drawers inside) into the space, which will require some things being tweaked. (I mean, space-wise I could leave the file cabinet where it is, as long as I was at peace with never being able to open the drawers. Wait, that doesn't sound good, though...)

Working full time is awfully tiring! I am very out of practice, and so, so tired. Given how I'm yawning, I should be getting ready for bed ... right about now.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Being an adult for hours at a time--I'm out of practice! Even though I didn't have to go into the office until 10, and I left at 4 to bring the computer equipment home to set up, I was still worn out by it. I came through the door removing the business casual shirts, the grown-up shoes, the jewelry. Whew!

Honestly, I've been so spoiled by unemployment, it was hard to set the alarm and get up when I was still tired. Whine, whine, whine. But it did all go pretty well. The computer was there when I got there, set up for me and sent by the IT guy in NY, but there was no power cord: my boss said that he had told her he had to order a new one, and it was scheduled to arrive today. Someone else let me use his for a few hours, to get the machine going, so with IT's help I was able to log in, make sure email worked, all that. I printed out the HR forms I had to do; the whole re-starting process has been a mix of "we know you" and "who are you, anyway?". My email account, reactivated, had hundreds of messages that the IT guy deleted, that had come in since I left 15 months ago. And they're supposed to be able to re-start contributions to my 401(k) without my reapplying for that. But I had to fill out the emergency contact form and the tax forms and direct deposit, just as if I was really new. Part of that may be because HR used to be handled by a woman in NY and now it's done in the UK, so who knows what files went where, but still, it's weird.

Anyway, I wasn't able to scan the forms there to send in (which theoretically I should have been able to do), so I just scanned them now, post-stitch and bitch, and sent them. I reviewed the editorial guide for a refresher. I sat around wondering if the power cord was ever going to arrive, but finally it did, along with a new keyboard and mouse (the IT guy said that he was told to "roll out the red carpet" for me--which apparently means I get the new keyboard and mouse, though the computer itself is not new. Whatever, it works.). They let me bring home a monitor, too, which I much appreciate, I would hate to have to work just from the little laptop screen. And yes, my brother, as you advised, I brought home a network cable in case my wifi misbehaves.

I got it all set up, though it is a little crowded at the moment.
I am buying another desk from a former colleague who's moving, so I'll be able to spread out more, soon.

Man, I'm tired! And both cats want my attention, but not together, and ... I've got to go now.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Not That Kind of Hangover

Despite my new-found fondness for a little caramel vodka in a Coke, I'm still not much of a drinker, so when I say I feel hungover after my friend's wedding, I am speaking metaphorically. It was wonderful, start to finish--or at least, until I was finished, after 11, though the party continued--but I feel wiped out today.

Worth it? Absolutely! Any small quibbles (a little too warm in the church, really chilly at the reception, music on the loud side for having conversations) are vastly overshadowed by the beauty of the bride (what a dress!) and her attendants, the moving mass (without any of those dragging points that sometimes crop up), great food, everyone all dressed up, seeing friends, exchanging glances with friends that show wordless agreement about what that person decided to wear to a wedding (in a church!), and Did you see...? ... it was all great fun.

As to my lethargy today, the weather could be contributing: at about 70 degrees and overcast/drizzly, it's almost too chilly to have the windows open. Which is quite a change from a week ago, when it was too hot to have the windows open! I hope summer comes back.

I don't think my imminent employment is a factor in how I feel today, though it could be that it's not helping me shake it off. So weird to think about working again, and about going back to a previous company, and all these things. I do truly think it has an excellent chance of working out well, but mild jitters beforehand are normal. It will be better once I've started. Fortunately, I have a dinner with friends planned for tonight, so I won't be spending all my time Trying Not To Think About It.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Swim Summary, Getting Ready to Move On

I went swimming at the Y today, as I did yesterday, three times last week, and three times the week before. Which is not the biggest sample size, but it has served to confirm to me two things:
  1. I find swimming for exercise less distasteful than other forms of exercise that I have tried. Pleasant, no, not really, but tolerable.
  2. Even putting the cost aside, the scheduling difficulties mean I will not be able to sustain this while working. It's been enough of a challenge when I'm not.
So at least I know. It's too bad, though.

In other news, I finally took my old TV out to the car, only three months after replacing it, and will take it and the old DVD player in to recycle tomorrow. Get them out of the house at last! I won't know what to do with that spot on the living room floor.

I'm also going grocery shopping tomorrow, both of these things to be done after one last weekday lunch with a friend/former coworker. A good enough way to end my period of funemployment! Then Saturday night is my friend's wedding (blanket update: roughly half done, motoring along), and Sunday night a dinner with friends, and then boom, working. We'll see how that goes. I will, of course, report in.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

As Seen on Facebook and Elsewhere

Yes, it's that time again! For instance, this:
Ouch. Don't cut the proofreaders, please!

When professional dancers get married, the groom's dance for the bride is pretty awesome.


Now, this may be what I should get to deal with Carlos while working from home.
Because this is so, so true.

And, unrelatedly, this is certainly true:

I'm not bragging, but there it is.

(Not shown, something I saw on Facebook and now can't find, along the lines of, "Why do I have to prove who I am in order to make a payment on my account? Is someone else calling in wanting to pay my bill? Let them!")

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Counting Down

Somehow, it's a strange feeling to be in the last week of this strange summer, facing working again. It's been both good and bad, this time off, and now that it's ending I can't quite make sense of it. I looked at the calendar and it's been nine weeks--well, on Thursday it will be ten weeks since the bigwigs walked into the office and detonated their little surprise--and that's such a long time. I feel as though I ought to have accomplished more, even though rationally I know that first processing the shock and its aftershocks, and then looking for a job, took a lot of time, and left me with little energy to attack projects around the house. Still, still.

Anyway. The office is as ready as it will be, prior to starting work and seeing how things shake down. The desk is ready:
And Seymour is ready.
(He and I are thinking of Katharine Hepburn's plant in Desk Set. It's a start.
Meanwhile, there was the beach on Sunday, Crane's in Ipswich. The view when we arrived:
You may notice that this is a flat beach. This means there is not much obstacle to the tide coming in. We had to move back several times. The view to our left, just before 11.
And an hour later:
So a beach that was positively roomy at 10:30 was considerably closer quarters at high tide, 1:30. Not that it was super-close, but closer. It's a beautiful beach in any event, though I will admit to finding the sand too firmly packed for my tastes. It should mold itself to the human form, but it was like a too-firm mattress, not reacting very much at all. Ah well, it was still a wonderful day, and we topped it off with superlative ice cream at Down River, just over the town line in Essex. I had the Mill River Mix, and even the jimmies were extra-good. Highly recommend.

Things have been fairly quiet since then. I took Belmont to the vet today for a suspected ear infection, since I noticed her scratching more than usual. Sure enough! Ear drops for two weeks, and a return, oh joy. Even that's better than tomorrow, when I have my annual mammogram, ugh. I'll try to go swimming beforehand; I didn't feel like squeezing it in today before the vet, but while I have a few more days, I'll try.

I also did some laundry today, and started to tackle the piles'o'crap on the kitchen table. It's all excitement all the time around here.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Good Day ... good night!

I went to the beach today with friends, and it's not overstating to say this isn't something I do a lot. I brought a beach mat I bought in Hawaii, and I'm not sure I've used it since that trip ... which was in 2006. Pre-blog!

It was a good day, but the heat and sun and fresh air and all that have me yawning all over the place. No more for tonight. Hope your weekend was a good one!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Keeping Busy, All Right

For an unemployed person, I've certainly been busy this week! Not just Monday and Tuesday, but all the way through.

Wednesday I went swimming in the morning, then stopped by my old office in the afternoon to pick up a few things (they have a lot of random office supplies to clear out, and since I'm going to be working from home, I could use some desk organization). In the evening I went to the "other" knitting group that I sometimes go to. I've been bringing the blanket for stitch and bitching lately: although it is big and somewhat unwieldy, it also needs to be worked on, and while I'm trying to get it done at home, more time is better.

Thursday I dropped off some knives to be sharpened on my way to the Y, swam, and came home to shower and eat before a doctor's appointment. Then an errand after, and home to watch the hockey rerun I mentioned last night. (They won in overtime; it wasn't the greatest game, but so good to see hockey.)

Today I had to take the car in for a few small things, then ran some other errands before picking up the sharpened knives. By the way, I did not buy any shoes today, including these:
Gosh, I wonder why they were on clearance (marked DOWN to $70!).

It's not that any of it has been earth-shattering, really, just lots of small things adding up to being out a lot, as Carlos can attest. And there are still things on the list! Petsmart, Costco, Target, gas for the car, and if all else fails, one of the places on this list of the best ice cream in the country is in Rhode Island. Road trip! Or is that a Rhode trip?

I've been doing things around the house, too, though looking at my kitchen you would never guess (that's still on the list). The office is much better than it was, though we were starting from a pretty low standard:
I've always found it easier to have an organized desk at work than at home, so working from home might be interesting! Anyway, I took everything off and did some moving and tidying. Interim shot:
My vague idea involves putting a small table/desk to the right, and putting my personal computer on that, leaving most of the space for working, but I want to see how it plays out, first. How much space am I actually going to want/need? In what configuration? It's one of those things that Only Time Will Tell.

I've also spent a fair bit of time this week digging things out of my file cabinet, which you can see in the lower right of the "before" photo. It was crammed full, to the point where putting a piece of paper in was challenging, and I knew that there were things to clean out. I estimate I recycled about 5-6 inches of paper, plus all the stuff that had to be shredded due to having my SSN or other info on it (I have a full grocery bag of shreds to recycle). Some things were moved to more appropriate locations (I may not be ready to ditch all my old school reports, or grade-school class photos, but they don't belong there). As a result of all this, I have 20+ empty folders now, and inches of spare room. It feels grand. I also tidied up some of what's in there, such as separating which records belonged to which old 401(k), and putting all the jury duty summonses in one spot (god, I hope I don't get called again any time soon). The files aren't completely clean, but I will take Vastly Improved for now. It feels good.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

My View Tonight

Where am I tonight? Home on the couch, by intention rather than inertia. Why? NESN is running an old (well, last season) Bruins game tonight. Hockey! Bring on the crappy low-light tablet photos.

Knitting! The blanket grows.
Carlos wants me in bed, already.
Belmont is more sanguine.
The Bruins are leading after one period. I am resisting the temptation to look up the game, and just letting it unfold. I hope they win.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Just as I Predicted

To quote myself, after my trip to Webs last Friday:
What did I buy? Well, not a ton, but a few things: new sock blockers, which should ensure that the ones I've mislaid come to the surface at once.
And on Sunday, what happened? Three guesses, first two don't count. Ah, fate, how you are funny. Not.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Well, I've had a busy few days!

Monday was a beautiful day, which meant lunch outside was a must, given that I had plans to meet up with a recent-former coworker, one I hadn't seen since that good-bye dinner (I can't find where I wrote about that, did I? It was back in June, the company paid for one last dinner for everyone, at a NICE restaurant, and it was both pleasant and extremely weird). Anyway, we talked for a long time, about the total weirdness of this whole layoff thing, etcetera, and afterward she showed me a fun store nearby, and it was very enjoyable.

Later that day, I saw the chiropractor, back from his vacation, and when I asked him to work on my right shoulder, which has been randomly sore lately, he really worked on it, whew! Clearly it needed it, but man. It's still sore tonight, but everything is a process.

Then after that, I got a come-to-dinner invite from family friends, so I got two meals put in front of me on Monday, quite a deal. Always good to see friends and catch up, too.

Today's weather was pretty much the opposite, being cooler and rainy on and off all day, so that part was less pleasant. I went to a swim class at the Y this morning, trying the aqua stretch and tone, which is the one held in the deep end (you wear floating belts). I didn't like it as much as the low-impact water aerobics I tried last week; I had some trouble maintaining position the times when we were supposed to be staying in one spot, and moved too much when we were moving ... I had to come earlier today (this class is before the other one), so I figured I would try this one, but next time I would work out myself in the shallow end instead.

The reason I had to go earlier is that I had my unemployment follow-up this afternoon, which fortunately went very well. This was the one to bring back all your forms and show them that you're doing what you're supposed to, and I was lucky enough to be one of the first checked off, and it was pretty straightforward. Which means I should continue to get paid until I start working again, woo-hoo.

Then I went to the grocery store for a few things, and was home again and relaxing after all this activity when my friend suggested a movie tonight--we've talked about seeing the Minions movie for a while, but something has always come up. Tonight was the night! Before it was time to go over, I did some work on the computer, relating to the 401(k) roll-overs I've been dealing with, making sure I know where everything is. Progress is being made, albeit slowly.

And then it was movie time! The theater is one I've been going to since I was a kid, but apparently I haven't been in a while, and they've renovated and upgraded and it's got reclining seats and all that jazz. The popcorn was okay too, and the movie was fun! If you enjoyed Despicable Me, and like the minions (as who does not?), I recommend seeing it. If your home TV is big enough, you probably won't miss anything by waiting, but I do enjoy the big screen once in a while.

Time to think about bed, and what tomorrow will bring.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

On Fiber Revival-ing

Today's weather has been less pleasant than yesterday's; it isn't actually that much cooler, but with little to no sun and a continuous breeze, it feels much cooler, and I'm glad that the beautiful day came yesterday, in time for the Fiber Revival. It was a good time! Perfect for some time spent sitting outside, knitting and people-watching. We brought chairs and snacks, bought lunch there, browsed the booths, and looked at the animals.

First, though, this bumper sticker, which has nothing to do with fiber but I loved all the same.

Next, lots of animals. Humming alpaca, recently shorn:
Other alpaca likes his head scritched:
Really, really likes it.
"Don't think about it. No touchy."
The horse, of course.
I seem not to have gotten pictures of the donkey, or the pig who was far from the fence. A few goats, hamming around. I mean, don't you always perch on a giant spool?
Or sleep in a feeding trough?
And this one was just posing. With crazy eyes.
Also sheep, here:
And everywhere. With all that green, this one was digging in the dirt.
This guy, meanwhile, was tired of stooping, and ate on his knees instead, even moved around that way!
Laziness as art form.

They had a display that we first noticed from a distance for the size of the wheel.
It turned out to be on spinning flax, which is what this is:
Pretty neat.

There as also a demonstration that we made sure to check out, given the description "devices of questionable origin" ("rodents of unusual size", anyone?). It turns out that the woman who was there to teach a few classes, Abby Franquemont (on the right), had been having some health issues that interfered with her spinning, so her husband (on the left) came up with an alternative to all the pedaling that spinning wheels involve. He's up to the 8th iteration, hence the label (click photo to enlarge).
Even for a non-spinner, it was pretty cool.

There was a beautiful shawl on display at one of the booths.
But although there are only a few projects of it listed in Ravelry, more than one notes it isn't well-written, so I will probably pass. Too bad, it's pretty!
Finally, the yarn. I held myself to one new skein, from Spunky Eclectic, in a rainbow of sherbet colors:
It's lace-weight, which probably means a shawl, but who knows. It sure is pretty.
And while I was at it, better pictures of Friday's Webs purchases. The bland-looking but amazing-feeling llama:
And the depths of the sea:
Considering the temptations around me, not too much damage done!