Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Picture Is Worth...

Trust Sandra Boynton to come up with the perfect image.

May it be a better year all around. (Come on, 2018, that's a low bar to clear. You can do it.)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Little Sunshine (Metaphorically) (Literally, Snow Flurries)

I talked to the car people today, and was told, "We put in a new battery, and as for the tire, we can't find anything wrong with it."


I said doubtfully, "It was flat as a pancake." And she said emphatically, "I know! It's so weird!"

She said that they inspected the tire for damage and couldn't find any, took the tire off and did the dunk test (nothing), then put it back on and inflated it, and left it overnight and today, and it hadn't lost any air when I talked to her at two. It's the weirdest thing. While it wouldn't be surprising for it to have lost some air in this extreme cold, and sitting for ten days, it still shouldn't have been that flat without a leak. Perhaps some kids were messing around and let some air out? I mean, it's possible, though it seems unlikely.

Certainly I will keep a vigilant eye on it, and on the tire-pressure light, and bring it back at the first sign of trouble, but the bottom line is that, well, wouldn't they have wanted to sell me tires if they could? I think it's a good sign about them, actually. And I'm delighted to "only" have to pay for the battery today.

Plus, I got to get groceries! And while my younger self would have been rather disgusted to hear I was so pleased about that, well, it's nice to have some fresh food in the house.

Friday, December 29, 2017

A Rough Reentry to the Frozen North

AKA, when things don't go according to plan.

Thursday Version
My return flight on Thursday was an hour delayed, in the end, which was not ideal, but these days, not all that surprising either. Certainly I wouldn't have complained much about it, if they hadn't then completely messed up the "get the luggage off the plane and into the terminal" part.

Again, I was not surprised when they told us on the plane that it would go to carousel 7, and got there to find it was listed on carousel 8. No big deal. But carousel 8 disgorged luggage for another flight, then another, without giving out ours (at least I wasn't alone in my discontent; there were several dozen of us, waiting).

An airline employee happened to be passing, and someone asked her if she knew what was going on. She didn't even know there was a problem, but said she would look into it, and went away. We waited ... there was an announcement that they were waiting for an update and would let us know what was going on in three minutes ... another flight's luggage came off ... and since it had been about 10 minutes since that three minutes, I decided to go look for someone to ask again, as it was something like an hour after landing, my ride was waiting outside, and I was getting seriously annoyed.

As I got close to the office, a few employees were coming out, papers in hand, and I and some other passengers got to them to be told that there was some sort of problem with the carousel*, they didn't know how long it might be, and they were willing to take our info down and have the bags delivered to us.
*Clearly not what is commonly called the carousel, the thing that brings the bags into the terminal, since that was very obviously working; I don't know where the problem actually was, and I don't think they did either.

Oh, did I mention that my winter coat was in my suitcase? And that it was about 10 degrees, and falling, outside?
I got in line to fill in the form, grumbling and trying to get a signal to grouse on Facebook. But before I got very close to being helped, a man came along pulling a suitcase, and it turned out the woman in front of me was with him, and oh guess what, our bags were on the carousel. Surprise!

I hurried down to the carousel, got my bag, got my coat out, and was able to finally call my ride with good news.

My sympathies, meanwhile, to the couple who missed the last water ferry to Hull in all the nonsense. I hope they got home before midnight.

Which is when I got in bed, as it happened. I was home by, what, 10:30? But too wound up to go right to sleep. End result: woke up still tired, slightly disoriented, and with sore muscles, especially in the arms.

Friday Version
I had been heartened, when I got home, to see that my car was not covered in a foot of snow, as I had feared it might be. I knew that what was on it, was most likely frozen solid, and would not be easy to get off, but I had lunch plans with a friend who was in from out of town and leaving later in the day, so I was motivated. I went out this morning, and was able to open the door easily enough, but the car wouldn't start.

I put in the call to AAA, chipped the snow and ice off the hood so the tow truck person would be able to get in for a jump start, and when he arrived an hour later (not bad in this weather, honestly), he started it right up. He advised that I might need to replace the battery, and that at least I should let it run for a good hour to charge it, so I left it running while I got the rest of the ice off. About half an hour later*, I managed to get out of the parking space, started to drive away, and oh no that doesn't sound right at all. Pull over.
*Why, yes, my arms now hurt quite a bit! And my back!

Flat tire. Very, very flat.

So, another call in to AAA, waited and the truck actually arrived in good time, but when told that I don't have a spare (the car didn't come with one), he said the tire was too flat to try to inflate, since there was probably damage to it, and when he checked in with the office, they told him to run and do some other calls, then come back for mine.

So, lunch plans sadly canceled, I walked around the corner and back to the house to eat something before my hunger became dangerous, then called the service people to let them know the car would be coming in. She said that they're booked up this afternoon, and probably won't have time to look at it until tomorrow morning, but she would do what she could. Which is not ideal, but is totally understandable, and very good to know before riding up there in the tow truck!

So, about an hour later, the tow truck came back (having gone to five other calls in between, he said) and got the car, and I walked home again, with frozen eyeballs* from the few minutes of standing there while he sorted things out (damn, it is cold). My plans are all discombobulated, but I am warm and safe inside, I have food to eat (if nothing perishable, but hopefully I can get groceries tomorrow, and I won't starve before then), and since I have AAA plus, I didn't have to pay anything for this morning's calls.
*And, as it turned out, major hat-head, but the warm hat was well worth the dork look.

Let's not think about what the new tire and battery are going to cost, okay? La la la, I can't hear you.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Cards Sent: Holiday Card Revealed

I don't send Christmas cards every year, so I certainly don't judge who sends them to me and who doesn't. I do like sending them, it's just that some years get away from me more than others (like last year, when I had a cold for over a month, November-into-December). And I like receiving them; who doesn't want a little cheery thing in the mail?

Anyway, this year, I had ordered my cards a while back (like, before Carlos died), and even with my holiday spirits not so high, I still wanted to send them out. Because look:
Emily McDowell has great stuff; you should check it out. And Happy Holidays to you!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Random Thoughts Before Leaving

Many of the things that have changed in my daily life since Carlos died are not surprising to me, but once in a while something small comes up to make me say, huh. Right, of course, I just didn't think of that.

One of those things is that, for the first time in many years, I'm going away without having a petsitter come, and that means that no one will be bringing my mail in. It's not a big deal, I don't get that much mail, but I don't love the idea that it might become obvious I'm not home. So I asked one of my neighbors* if she would take it in if it starts building up too much, and she said sure. But still. Huh. Weird.
*The one whose cats I fed a few times, earlier this year.

My packing is nearly complete (which is a good thing, I know, since I'm travelling tomorrow!). As I think I mentioned, I am bringing two large suitcases with me, so I can take down some things to leave there, for when I move and put much of my stuff in storage. One evening last week, I started filling the first suitcase with things, books and yarn and so on, so that I could get a sense of how much I was going to be able to fit, which turns out to be quite a lot! (And before you ask, yes, I have a luggage scale, so I can make sure each bag doesn't get too heavy.) This weekend I worked with my list and the suitcases, and except for things that can't be done until tonight or in the morning, I'm all set. Whew!

It's going to be really nice to be away, not just for the family and the weather and the celebrating the holiday, but also simply to be somewhere where I don't expect to see Carlos all the time.

Also, I can't tell you how pleased I am by the weather forecast there. It looks like it will be at even nicer than "at least it's better than it is at home" levels the whole trip. Ahh, sun and warm.

I doubt I will blog much while I'm away, but I may pop in now and again.

Happy whatever-you-celebrate to you. And if that is Christmas, well, don't miss this video of the outfits the Bruins wore into Saturday's game. Ugly sweaters in suit form, hilarious!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Kickstarter Goodies Revealed, Times Two

This summer, I backed two different Kickstarters; one was for the latest Girl Genius book, and the other was Dave Kellett's Anatomy of Animals. Both arrived this week, strangely enough! So let me show you what I got. (If you could use a reminder of what exactly Kickstarter is, I seem to have written about it here at some length.)

Girl Genius is an online comic I've been reading for years; they post it, free, online a few times a week, but the story is so detailed that reading at the release pace means I forget some of the details of who is that and why is she doing that? It can take them a year to get through a really busy day, so I think that's understandable, but I find the books a good way to catch the continuity up, and then I enjoy re-reading them once in a while. The Foglios use Kickstarter to print the volumes, since that gives them a guaranteed number of buyers, which funds the initial print run; very sensible, in my opinion. This book is volume 16, and I've been in on the last few Kickstarters of theirs.

Of course, I didn't think to take photos when I opened the package, but here is the book (signed bookplate already stuck inside), with the bookmark and a few cards.
The little card in the lower right has a list of the books on its reverse, so I checked off what I have. I'm slowly filling in the gap.
I had put previous stickers on a hanging-file holder I have, so I added the new one. Here it is, one side (which also has other stickers, such as the ones that came with a previous Kickstarter campaign I backed):
And the other:
So there's Girl Genius!

Dave Kellett, on the other hand, is the cartoonist who draws Sheldon, an online comic I love (in a very different way to GG). He started drawing these Anatomy of Animals cartoons once in a while, and when there were enough, did the Kickstarter campaign to make a book of it. When the news first came out, I was interested, but not certain I needed it enough--and then the Arthur* pin was included**, and I was all in.
*Arthur the duck is a character in Sheldon (he first shows up here), and I love him.
**It was a stretch goal, and once he reached that level of pledges, it's in!

The book itself is lovely.
And the design of the signed bookplate so clever.
Example page.
My Arthur pin is already on my bag.
Gandalf Airlines magnet on the fridge.
Finally, a Batpug magnet and pugs pin, which to be honest I have no interest in; anyone want them?
It's nothing against pugs, I'm just not particularly pro-pug, so let me know.

But overall, I'm delighted with the package! Both of them, in fact.

Friday, December 15, 2017

A Hat Story

Wednesday night was very, very cold and windy, the kind of night to make a knitter realize that her warm hat was not warm enough. I was wearing the alpaca hat I made a year ago (I can't find that I blogged about it, but it was made using the yarn left from this alpaca shawl), and it is warm, but the wind was just blowing through it.
While I'm not getting rid of it by any means, on Wednesday night, I needed more.

The other warm hat I have is the double-knit one I made a few years ago. But when it's really cold, I really wish I had made it an inch or two longer; the alpaca one is longer, with a bit of a slouch, and I like that look better, plus it's better for covering the ears.
So, I thought, time for a cross between the two?

I found some Cascade Eco Duo in the stash, and wound it. Well, not easily: the first skein turned out to be in pieces, so that instead of ending up with one ball of yarn, I had four.
Tsk, tsk, Cascade. Not nice. And as annoyed as knitters get by knots in a skein of yarn, these weren't even knotted together, which is worse. Plus, there was this thin spot I noticed, which is worrying:
At least the other skein had no issues.

When I was ready to cast on, I was still thinking of making another Doubleknitski, but I sat there holding yarn and the needles and thinking, You want this to be a fast hat? You will not be fast at this. I hesitated, started to cast on, ripped it out, and started again holding the two yarns together, going by the Mollie Mae pattern of the hat above, instead. Double-thick should still be warm, if perhaps not as much as double knitting.

I am not a hat expert, but I have made a few, and my experience is that if I cast on enough stitches that joining them on the circular needle is a little bit of a stretch, that will be a good number, at least for a first try. So with this yarn held double, I cast on 60 stitches and joined it from there. When I had a couple of inches, I put it on a longer needle to make sure I could get it over my head, and I can. It's snug, but better that than loose. They usually stretch out a little anyway.
I'm off for a relaxing Friday night, and this will be longer, ere long.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

I can agree with that

My brother wrote on his Christmas card, "To a less aggressively uncooperative 2018." Amen, brother.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Nature of Time

It's four weeks on Thursday since Carlos died. Somehow, four weeks is both:
  • Not very long at all, in terms of how much time I would expect it to take before I feel even somewhat better.
  • A really long time to feel this bad, this much of the time.
A change of scene is going to be most welcome. Next week, I am leaving on a jet plane!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Why Not?

For no reason other than that it came into my head recently.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Take Your Snow Photos And

First I have to vent about the snow, as Facebook and Instagram fill up with photos of the snow and the lights and isn't it all so pretty?!?

Yes, it is pretty. I don't deny that.

But for me, the pretty does not overcome all the rest. It is:
  • Cold
  • Messy
  • A pain to get off the car (over and over)
  • Annoying to drive in (I personally like to know where the lanes are, when I drive on the highway, and I expect the car to move in certain ways based on how I turn the steering wheel)
  • Noisy. Not the snow itself, but my building's plow guy, who came by at 5 AM; the building across the street, where someone was shoveling the sidewalk at 8, scrape-scrape-scrape; the house next to it, as she was shoveling it out at 9, scrape-thud, scrape-thud; the building across the other street, where Paul was snow-blowing at 10, vroom-vroom-vroom.
Gah. I'm looking forward to Florida. I'm going to be like the character in a book I read, who had moved from NY to southern California and brought a snow shovel with him. He kept it in his garage, and if he had a bad day, he would go outside and say to it, "Well, at least I didn't need you today."

Anyway! Despite the snow, I was glad to go out yesterday and hang out with my friends in their new apartment, and have a lovely Thanksgiving meal. It was very relaxed, sweatpants kind of atmosphere, and we watched The Muppet Christmas Carol between dinner and pie. I would probably have stayed even later if not for the snow, and the drive home in it.

Finnegan came out to check me out several times.
He settled between my feet later, just long enough for me to get the picture, then startled across the room.
He and Molly were front and center, oddly enough, for the pie, not the turkey. (They did want turkey, but they weren't quite so obvious about it.)
Finally, after dessert, Molly went back to bed, but Finn decided that he could come sit near me on the couch, and allow some scritching. He purred.
He was very cute.
As always.

Friday, December 08, 2017

A Good Thing, Tomorrow

Today probably wasn't going to be a great day anyway, even before I woke up at 5, went to the bathroom, and then couldn't get back to sleep. I needed that hour or two.

And remember how I mentioned that the report I'm working on isn't the worst one ever? Well, it turns out that the authors think they can take illustrations from another source and copy them into the report, and that slapping an "adapted from" in the footer makes it all right. Guys, that is called plagiarism, and I don't know how you got your advanced degrees without ever hearing about that, and that it is bad, and wrong.

Also, not to be over-literal, but that is not what "adapted" means.
And then, of course, it's going to snow tomorrow.

However! Also tomorrow, I'm having a late Friendsgiving* meal with friends, so tonight I am making angel salad, and a (different) friend is coming over to hang out while I make it, and then we're going to watch a Christmas special from our childhood, and hey, it isn't all bad.
*Not my favorite word, but it doesn't bug me like "Galentine's Day" does, so, eh. Whatever.

Although today would have gone better with my therapy cat, just saying. He was good at talking me off the ledge on days like this.
Even in his sleep.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Status Report

A few points on the current state of things around here:
  • I went to a website today looking for Christmas gifts, and although I did find one, I also got a perfect-for-them card for a friend's birthday in, oh, nine months. Who wants to lay odds that I won't be able to find it at the time?
  • The vet's office sent me a sympathy card for Carlos, signed by about a dozen people in the office, which was very sweet and totally unexpected.
  • It's not that I expected to feel any better about his dying only three weeks later, but it frustrates me that some days are better and some days are worse, and I can't seem to affect that. I've been trying to get to bed extra early, in hopes that a good night's sleep will help, but clearly that isn't the only factor. I'm so tired of feeling this way, missing him so much, so often.
  • Alert the media: Local Woman Announces That Grieving Sucks. Story at 11.
  • I'm working on a hurry-rush-rush report for work that, while it isn't the worst-written I've ever seen, has a bunch of problems repeated over and over, relating to grammar/punctuation rules and points from our internal style guide. Over and over, I'm: 
    • changing "which" to "that" (and, much less often, "that" to "which"); 
    • changing "however" to "but"; 
    • making subjects and verbs agree; 
    • making a company singular ("Pfizer is," not "Pfizer are"); 
    • changing commas to semicolons, and adding missing commas, and adding missing periods, and and and. Again, not the worst ever, but annoying.
  • On the hopeful-positive side, I have to return it by the end of next Thursday, which I am hoping means that there will be less pressure after that.
  • The other day, I found an old song (well, the 80s are a long time ago, even I have to face that) running through my head for no apparent reason. I tracked it down, and was surprised at how much I can still sing along with. Deep memory.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Trying to Anticipate Changes

I am a planner, as you may possibly have noticed; planning ahead for things brings me the pleasures of anticipation (in cases of good things), and the satisfaction of feeling ready for what is coming (good or bad). [As an aside, some days I imagine a therapist reading this blog could have quite a lot on which to base a diagnosis of me.] It helps me feel a little more in control of all that life will throw my way, especially during a process filled with this many unknowns.

When I bought my condo (eleven years ago!), the move was under ten miles, but the change was enough that I needed to figure out where things like the nearest grocery store and bookstore were going to be. I remember spending quiet times at work looking up stores, to find the closest one to my new location.

The process this time is similar, but different. Instead of "Where is the nearest bookstore?" the questions are more like, "Does my bank operate in Florida"? The answer is no, so I add, "Open new bank accounts," to the long-term to-do list.

On the plus side, having my mother already there, with twenty-plus years of area knowledge, and a solid base of people to ask things like "Where is a good self-storage place?" and "Do you recommend a particular car-carrier* company?" is invaluable.
*At this point, I haven't decided if I will use one, or drive it down myself. When Carlos was involved, a 24-hour drive (over however many days) was going to be impossible, which made the decision for me.

I really am trying not to freak out over all the things still unknown. Mostly by trying not to think about it, but just focusing on what's right in front of me, along with making lists of things that have occurred to me for later. It isn't my usual MO, but so far, so good. Ish.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Miniscule Improvement Is Still Improvement

Last night didn't get better than the day mostly had been (though stitch and bitch was good), and I got on my computer after I got home last night, and found myself looking with great frustration at this:
And an hour later, it was all the way up to 25%, and I was a little more frustrated. (When I had turned it off before going out, it made me choose "Update and shut down," so I rather thought it would have its shit together three hours later, but alas, no.) The Bruins game didn't even start until 8, and at the end of the first, they were down 2-0, to add to the joy.

But I just kept telling myself that today would be better, which, thanks to a solid night's sleep, it has been (and if the Bruins went on to lose, well, at least I didn't stay up late to watch it). Even though I got a report in today that shows a terribly incomplete understanding of our editorial guidelines. But it isn't actually that badly written, other than fundamentally misunderstanding that there is a difference between "that" and "which" (something a lot of the analysts seem to struggle with), and hey, since it has to be back in a big rush-rush, at least I got it with most of today to work on it, instead of them saying it would come in on Tuesday but meaning by that, "before midnight." Small victories.

And even though I feel like I could go to sleep now, I'm off to try to get a few small things done before I do go to bed. Every little bit helps.

And hey: Two weeks from tomorrow, I'm off to Florida! That thought makes me smile.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Look at the Pictures Instead

I can't say I had a great weekend, though that was an internal thing, nothing to do with actual events, which were mostly fine-to-positive. And since this morning at 8 AM, I was thinking what an awful day it already was, let's not talk about today, either.

Instead, a few random photos from spending yesterday in Salem, on the holiday house tour. And let me put in a word for Bambolina, where we ate after touring, and I had a really delicious pizza. Highly recommend if you are in Salem.

A glimpse of the TARDIS-painted switch box.
A musically minded car.
Apparently there used to a self-guided walk in this district that had these plaques in the sidewalk, as well as other signs to follow.
That was a nice screened porch.
And quite the large yard, with views of other gorgeous houses.
A generally lovely entry (not on the tour, actually), and look at the side glass panels!
Not an actual photo from the tour, since they don't want you taking photos inside the houses, but I saw this sign in one house and loved it.
And probably my favorite bit of the day, a fountain filled with cranberries.
As we discussed, it's quite a narrow window of time when you can get the cranberries, and not have the fountain freeze, but still, a charming decoration.

Here's to a better tomorrow.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Knitting Shawls

I don't think I've summarized the state of the recent knitting, other than in bits here and there; specifically, here, where I mentioned that I was close to finishing the Mioget shawl and not sure what to make next, and there, where I decided that another Mioget was just the thing. So here's the latest.

Last Wednesday, the night before Thanksgiving, I finished the first Mioget shawl, washed it, and laid it out to dry under a fan, so that I could have it to wear over the holiday.

Before washing:
About six feet across, and no more than two feet tall.

Washed and pinned, it was more like seven feet wide, although part of that was the left wing, wanting to go up, so I had to get another square.
Actually, I only pinned the center section. The wings were fine, but I wanted to open up the lacy part of the center. Because here it is before:
And here, after.
Or, more close up:
So that did what I wanted it to.

I find the asymmetric look of it amusing, for whatever reason. And it wore well, in the sense that I could leave the wings dangling without them touching the floor, if I was wearing it more in decorative-shawl mode, but they also wrap well around my neck for going-out-in-the-cold mode. And, it went well with every outfit I wore in Maine, so that was a happy accident.

I did in fact cast on a new Mioget, Wednesday night, in order to have it for knitting during the trip. I need to get good photos, but so far all I have is this one, not so color-true, from the car:
The two yarns I mentioned in passing, that would go so well together? It turns out that they're more work-well-enough-together than can't-tell-apart. This was them in the skeins.
Pretty close, right?
But wound, not quite as much:
But I still think they work well together. And fortunately, I was smart enough to measure my yarn use in the first Mioget, so I can work out how best to place blocks of color on this one. By my crude sketch:
So the idea for now if to do section one from the first skein, and section 2 from the second, and then see how much I have left, to decide on section 3. We'll see if that goes according to plan, or if I will have to modify.