Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Wall of Importances

As my days at the office wind down, I am getting blindsided by something I hadn't predicted.  It seems stupid that I wouldn't have realized it, stupid is the name of the game when you're reeling from a heavy loss.

Every day another coworker says good-bye. Every. Single. Day.
I've built walls of protection around myself, only to find I've walled in something forgotten. Then I have to build another wall within the first, and another, and another, until I find myself looking through the windows (never one to completely close myself off, I put windows in my walls) at important things that I am not dealing with right now.

Things like flu shots and washing the windows and getting the last little bit of filing done.

It's at times like these that my tendency to organize every facet of my life comes in handy. I'm making lists.

Someday, after I've landed on my feet, I'll pick up the lists and start ticking things off.

But right now, adding "talk to the recruiter" and "set an appointment for an interview" and "get a haircut" to my usual daily routine is about the most change I can tolerate.

Top of the daily routine list is "when you've finished crying, remember to smile."

When I took pictures of my coworker wearing the hat I'd made her, one of them showed the address of the building where we work so I left it out of the blog. Now that it's no secret anymore, I include it as a memento of our years here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Falling For Ewe Swap Question No. 3

What meals or foods mean ‘Fall’ to you?

Not exactly a meal or a food, but where we went to get food in the fall back in my hometown:  Eckert's.

Best apple butter on the planet!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

September Procrastination Challenge

I have joined this challenge a little late, I know, but by the end of September, I should be able to get one of these three tasks accomplished, and maybe both of them if I'm really diligent!  (But my challenge for this month is just to do one of them.)

  • Open all the financial related mail that is stacked up on my computer desk at home and file it;
  • Collect the remaining financial filing from 2007 and get it into the 2007 tax storage box; or
  • Get all my Criminon students' files up-to-date:  all lessons graded and a letter out to every student

Anyone care to join this challenge? (There's a prize involved.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Summer of Yarn Love Swap Final Reveal

I figure as long as I am on borrowed time at my job that I should catch up on blog posts.
The final reveal for the Summer of Yarn Love Swap at Ravelry was kind of like the end of the world:  except that it ended with a whimper and a bang.  My spoiler Pamela (of Pamela on the Farm fame) and I had gotten to know each other quite well in emails and I was pretty certain I knew who she was, so the reveal wasn't all that surprising.  It seemed more like a mint on my pillow after full day of heavenly languor on the sun deck over Caribbean waters.  (This is the "whimper" part.)
In the last box she sent, Pamela included a letter that linked each item with her and her family and tied us together with our common threads -- and there are so many of those, it is uncanny.  I don't think she even realizes how linked we have become.
I don't think everything that she sent is visible in the photo above.  She sent playing cards and a car air freshener to represent both Ohio and the inevitable "life in the car" that moms like her lead.
There was lots of sock yarn for my baby projects (she knew I wanted to try making the Berroco design Celestine crochet dodecahedron).  (In fact, I have already started one this week):

What Pamela didn't know (at least on a conscious level) was that right before this package arrived, I had decided to try my hand at crocheted socks.  So not all of this yarn will become dodecahedra.

That book in the foreground?  Another one of the Amazing Pamela's Mind Meld products.  One of the questions on the questionnaire for the swap was, "Do you collect anything?"  At the time I said no, but when I saw this comb-bound recipe book from the Ohio State Fair, I realized that -- albeit not on purpose -- I actually do collect something.  Behold!  My grassroots comb-bound recipe book collection:

Clockwise from the far left:
  • Best of the Fair previously seen;
  • a Greek cookbook from a Greek festival I attended in Oakland when DH and I were first married;
  • my grandmother's church's cookbook (Grace Lutheran in Northern Illinois); and
  • last but not least, my childhood church (State Street Methodist in East St. Louis, Illinois) cookbook circa 1961. I distinctly recall my mother and the ladies in her church Methodist Women's circle collecting the recipes inside. They even wrote to then First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and received "her favorite" recipe for tomato aspic. That recipe, along with a cover letter from her personal secretary proudly grace the first pages of the cookbook.
See that little bag resting on top of the Best of the Fair cookbook in the earlier photo?  I really suspect that Pamela made what was in that bag and that it's a recipe that's in that cookbook, but she neglected to mention it in her letter, so we'll forever be in mystery.  (Unless she decides to comment on this blog post, that is.)  Anyway, it was a yummy treat that sent my blood sugar soaring and would have caused great damage had not my Dear Husband been nearby because after I'd tasted it and it became obvious that it was Not Long for this World, he thoughtfully disappeared the rest of it.  (He liked it a lot, too!)
Now, I would have been perfectly content with all of this, but then I saw the homemade item!  (This is the "bang" part.)

This bag is perfect in so, so, so many ways.  First off, it's entrelac.  I mean, I can't even knit and purl anymore, so just the thought of attempting colorwork this complicated boggles the mind.  Second, it's a bit of Ohio culture.  It's called a buckeye bag.  I wish I could go to Ohio and pick buckeyes and carry them in it!  But I'll have to settle for carrying crochet projects when I go to very special events.  Thirdly, although the photograph doesn't do them justice, the colors are just beautiful.  And fourthly, she felted it!  This is another craft skill I haven't done yet.  I am in absolute awe of Pamela's skills.
I have Pamelaonthefarm to thank for making the summer of 2008 delightfully memorable!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Our Roost Rulers

These are who DH and I answer to.

This is Booger.

It's hard to explain about Booger because I always get caught up having to explain her name.  See, technically, she's my daughter's cat.  But when my daughter moved out of my home, she couldn't take her with her to her new digs.  Then when I moved to San Francisco, Booger came with me.

She was my daughter's 18th birthday present.  At first she named her Michelle, which I thought was kind of odd.  I'm not all that keen on naming cats people names.  (Which may seem incongruous when you meet my next cat, George.)

One day DD came home and scooped the kitten up off the floor and put her on her shoulder at eye level and said, "Hi, there, Booger!"  It was meant to be a term of endearment.

But then the aha! light came on in her eyes and despite my protests, the name stuck.

For several years, I was too embarrassed to tell the vet what her real name was.  So in Los Angeles, the vet has her on file as "Baby" (my last name).

When I moved to San Francisco, I decided I'd better own up and tell the new vet the truth or I'd forget one day and regret it.  When I told the vet's assistant, she said, "We have a few of those."

Booger is half Siamese.  You can't tell it by looking at her, but you could if you heard her.  She talks a lot.  She's really bossy.  She bosses all of us around, including the other, older cat, George.

This is George.

George was one of a pair originally.  She and her litter mate sister were "twins" of a sort.  They had similar markings and the patches, but the black on George's face is on her left side and the black on her sister's face was on the right.  I called them our bookends.

The owners of the mother didn't want to separate the two kittens because they were obviously so attached to one another.  They were so attached that for the first year of their life, only once were they in separate rooms and that was an accident.  When they found out, they both jumped up and high-tailed it toward each other and lay panting in each others' paws for the narrow escape!

Well, the sister went missing after a year or so.  Later, we found her a couple of miles from where we lived in someone else's yard.  Apparently she had either been picked up by someone else or had adopted another family.  By then, she and George didn't recognize each other.

Yes, George is female.  Another long story.  I will tell it some other time.

And finally,

These are cat toys

There are more toys than this.  I got tired of finding them in odd places after the cleaning people vacuumed -- and of stepping on them -- and finally collected them all in a basket.  The cats come select the ones they want and scatter them around the apartment, but we pick them up faithfully once a week.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Teapot Story

This is a story of my three teapots.  I am getting a little ahead of the Tea Swap over at the Odd Ducks of Ravelry.  I figure someone someday is going to come looking at this blog and want to have this information.

The Teapot of Parties Past

This is the teapot of parties past.  When I originally conceived the idea for this blog post, it was to be entitled My Three Teapots.  Composing the post in my head made me want to use one of my teapots, so I pulled this teapot down from the cupboard and brewed me some Genmaicha.  I love me some Genmaicha of a weekend.  It's very soothing and the little "popcorn" (rice, actually) kernels are fun.

As a helpful note, Genmaicha is best when it's made in a mug or a restaurant.  By which I mean, if you're going to serve your Genmaicha from a teapot, go to a restaurant.  If you brew it in a teapot at home, then you are left with cleaning all the brown rice and green tea leaves out of the pot and that can be awkward.  One could accidentally break the lid of her teapot while cleaning up after a pot of Genmaicha.  And then one would have a late teapot.  (And by that I mean late in the way that Precious Ramotswe uses the word when she is referring to her father or the way that John Cleese uses late when he is referring to a recently purchased parrot.)

For what it is worth (very little unless you're planning on making a coffin for my late teapot), and as you can see by the ruler in front of it on the table, this teapot is 3.5" high and 8.5" from handle to spout.

This teapot has now been reassigned as the future home of an ivy cutting that is growing roots in a vase on the kitchen windowsill.

The Teapot of Parties Present

This teapot belonged to my late mother, may she rest in peace.  (And I am using late in the same sense as Precious's father and Cleese's parrot again.)  This teapot is 6.5" from handle to spout and 4" high.  It is much smaller than the other teapot, but it is an ideal size for the amount of tea I drink.  This teapot will never contain Genmaicha.  In fact, this teapot will never contain tea leaves unless they are contained in tea bags.  (For the purists among you who protest about making the perfect pot of tea, let me remind you how few late mothers' teapots a person can own in a lifetime.)

The Teapot of Parties to Come

This teapot was featured in my blog back in 2005 in a post entitled Jungle Fever.  I had high hopes for it, but it has only been used one time.  It has been another one of those "too good to use for everyday" items that is about to become an everyday item unless I get a teapot to replace my late teapot cum flowerpot.  I still have all the matching plates and I am awaiting an occasion to use it/them.  It measures 10" from stem to stern and is 6" high.

When all is said and done, I think I'll stick to mugs.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Autumn Question No. 1: What is your favorite thing about Autumn?

Here is where I risk alienating my vast readership and perhaps getting myself committed.  But swap requirements being what they are, do I have a choice?  The mod says answer the question, we answer the question.

"One thing I miss from Back East," people say in California, "is the seasons." But the first September I lived in Los Angeles, California, I opened the window and distinctly felt fall arrive.  The leaves didn't change colors, the temperature was still hot as blue blazes, the sun was still burning brightly, but there was something in the air -- something I couldn't quite name -- that told me autumn had arrived.  I could breathe it in, even in this state without the seasons.

Back in my childhood lo these many years, there was this -- for lack of a better word -- feeling that would engulf me at rare, unpredictable moments.

It was partly physical -- my skin would tingle, my head would flush from my scalp down, and gradually this feeling would swell as it pervaded my chest, my arms, my heart.

(No, it wasn't a heart attack!  You guys snickering in the back there can go now.)

As it moved through my body, it became more of a spiritual sensation.  I would feel part of something grander -- a family, a community, a nation, a people -- until joy would pervade my whole being.

Like I said, it was rare.  It was unpredictable.  There was never anything I could pinpoint that triggered it, no sudden heart-stopping moment, nothing anyone said.

However, it usually happened in the autumn as I was entering my house -- not on a special holiday or anything, just opening in the back door and feeling the warmth of the kitchen begin to escape as I walked in.  I would have just come home from school, spotting my favorite trees at the end of the street turning to gold and red, following the driveway to the garage stairs and the kitchen door.

I never knew when it would happen until an instant before it did, and feeling it come on was akin to hearing reindeer hooves clicking on the roof Christmas Eve.  "Oh, goody!" I'd think.  "It's happening again!"

Then it would engulf me and I'd feel so damn grateful that I was alive, that my mother was cooking dinner, that I had a warm home and a family to come home to, that the piano was there for me to practice, that my cat was there for me to pet, my books for me to read, my television to watch, and our table for me to set.

Don't get me wrong -- my childhood was nothing to write home to the Waltons about.  In fact, on a scale of dysfunctional families, mine probably ranked at least a 7.5 out of 10.  So there was no real tangible reason for this feeling to be there, really.

It hasn't happened since I left home for college.  (In fact, truth be told, it was probably earlier than that when it stopped happening.  The dysfunction in the end won out.)

But I never forgot it.  I hold it as knowledge in my heart that happiness and true contentment exist in this world, and I never let go the hope that the feeling will grow into constancy in my life.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

What Is It About Weddings?

I am a sucker for weddings. It's not that I want to go to the wedding so much -- although I do like to attend them. I want to be part of creating the wedding.

So when I recently got a swap partner in the Ravelry Swap on a Budget Swap who said she was getting married in November, I had to jump in with my two (or more) cents. I stalked her all over the Internet and contacted her friends and family until I found out what her colors were and then I started to crochet a bridal purse.

I hadn't worked with thread in over 25 years, and even then I had only made one project, a pillow for my grandmother.  This one turned out to be quite a challenge, but once the first side was finished, I'd gotten into the rhythm of it.
It took about 40 hours total.  In fact, I had to take some vacation time to finish it on time to send.
I am so happy she was pleased with it and she really does plan on using it at her wedding.
The final product:
So now not only do I have another FO to be proud of, I have a new-found passion for working with crochet thread.  Today, mock Irish crochet.  Tomorrow Bruges lace!