Sunday, September 28, 2008

Raining, if not pouring

Apparently this is what's left of Tropical Storm Kyle. It could be worse; my drivway doesn't appear even to have washed out, which I though was its kneejerk response to a flood warning. I am okay with this.

Meanwhile, I no longer have to be subtle about my looking for another job, because my non-profit is seriously out of money (not a surprise) and I am getting laid off on Tuesday (or is it Wednesday? Tuesday is the last day for which I am being paid). I have feelings and even thoughts about this but I gather it is unprofessional to say much; if you desperately need details, ask off-blog.

On the one hand this doesn't help my partly realistic feelings of unsuitability and uselessness as an over-50 year old woman who owns no suits (and really doesn't want to. If Coldwater Creek separates are not dressy enough, I probably have too many other attitude problems for you to be happy with my working for you). On the other, I needed a different job for a host of reasons, not least the cost of fuel.

I am not panicking, and I can't tell if this is a good response or not. Saves energy, and remains an option for the future.

It is harder to get an electrician in the greater Concord area than you might think, but the kitchen is slowly coming along.

The trees are starting to turn -- well, they started in mid-August, but it's becoming more socially acceptable even outside the swamp maple communities. When there is sunshine it's amazingly beautiful, and kind of neat even floating in the fog. I have not yet closed all the windows, though it's getting almost frosty some nights.

Toby (now a 2 yr old orange cat) is getting along better with my daughter, who is doing remote prep for possible future parenthood by becoming better at going back to sleep and ignoring cat-dashing after midnight. He is, if anything, more obviously over-alert now that he's an entirely indoor cat -- he is only happy in her bedroom or hiding behind the furnace in the utility closet. He is bored but we can't help thinking that's probably better than terrified, as anyone would be if Willow (who has now been here almost a year) kept trying to beat one up. Marten, who is about twice Willow's size and a quarter of her fierceness, can take it but, I think he is tired of her.

And the second morning after my services will no longer be recompensed I will be showing up at lab at 8am. to go dig for the last gasp of summer, an invitation-only Octoberfest in Randolph. After that I will get more worried, if I can be sure that will be more productive.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Yesterday I sat in the loom room (far north end of house) and finished the quilt top (don't worry, there are miles to go before anyone sleeps with it) and sat happily with both cats until it was late. All of us rose to our feet (a total of ten) and then there was a thunder of little other feet running for the cat door. The raccoons had infiltrated about two hours earlier than they usually do. They have learned that the food these days may be found at the far southern end of the house (kitchenette the formerly of Doug).

I was not altogether surprised to see one of their number still eating kibble. He went and hid in the bookcase, quite well if you didn't know he was there. He would look out asking for justice and temperance and with his little squeaky toy black rubber nose (I know, long white teeth are included). I discussed the merits of not coming into my house.

Marten came in and started eating kibble. Willow came in and hated him for eating and then Saw Something in the bookshelf. The raccoon attempted to melt me with its sensitive eyes, and then shrank back farther into the bookcase. Willow turned into Terminator Cat stalking her prey. I suggested both she and Marten leave. Got Willow out into the laundry room. Got Marten out through the door outside. The raccoon pretended it didn't see any of this, but gave me to understand that broom handles were not okay. I sat down and read about Proto-Indo-Europeans, periodically banishing cats (this hurt their feelings). Eventually the raccoon paced around the room, tried several times to get out the way it had come in (the long way, through the laundry room, the kitchen, and the room outside the door full of tools), ate a little more kibble, considered upsetting the fresh kitty litter just because it could, and ambled outside.

At least they are not bears. Bears cannot get in through the cat door. I guess we have to pull up the drawbridge earlier.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Baskets of it

I do the laundry. I am happy about that, changed the sheets gratuitously. Very carefully hung a bunch out on the rack, put rack in the sun outside.

The self-contained former-garage apt. that Doug called The Fiber Kitchen had devolved into savagery. In the first place, it was essentially without counter space (like one stacks things on the stovetop, and then moves them to cook). In the second, Doug (who is still moving out) had tended to put things there and when he began moving, he put more things there and when I began renovating I put things there.
Doug took some of his things elsewhere, and after some time I realized I could put things into the mostly empty cupboards, and move the microwave/toaster/electric kettle complex into the kitchen area. This made it a lot more like a kitchen, raising my expectations.
Yesterday I moved things of Doug's into a nasty mass on one side of the room. This was precipitated by my noticing that the last (and I mean last) time the raccoons had rifled the place looking for cat food, they had tipped over the kitty litter tray. I would prefer the cats Went outside, but since I now seal the house every night to keep the raccoons out, I feel it necessary to provide something. In order for anyone larger than cats or raccoons to get to that part of the room, I had to do something. And it would be nice not to have to negotiate a treacherous course to get to the only place in the room the radio had adequate reception. And at that, somewhere to sit while the leftovers warmed up, or even to eat them, was an interesting idea.

So I moved stuff, organizing what was mine and eventually reaching the litter litter. I love my shop vac. I was handy to the laundry, and also to the rack, which I moved inside when the sky clouded up (it was supposed to rain yesterday) and back outside when the sun came back out. I improvised another counter and de-crumbed the toaster-oven. I fell through the door twice, AFTER I had made it obstacle free, and doing no good first to one ankle (it turns unexpectedly about once every three years) and then to the other (I think I just missed the step) and wondered whether I was coming down with an interesting brain disorder and limped and took arnica.

I moved the chair out of the living room and put it into the space between Doug's loom and the window and cleaned the bathroom and sat down and finished sweating just as Sarah arrived. I changed some of the clothes on the rack and did another load of laundry, and we ripped a bunch of CDs to Sarah's new computer. The we moved inside and knitted and eventually had food. Sarah left around nine and I forgot to bring the clothes rack in. The forecast is for possible rain this morning. I would say it was possible, since it has been raining steadily since midnight.

It was a good day. It's not easy being green.

I can walk all right today although my ankles are still discussing how mean I am.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I can haz laundry

Paul says the house has a curse on it. This morning his pipe cutter broke, so he went and bought new screws to hold it together in Henniker, and after he got back his propane torch broke. So he went to Concord to buy a new one and then to referee a basketball game in Manchester. He came back after dinner and got it all hitched up. Then he left and I found we had hot water but not cold, so he came back (had not got very far) and turned the cold water on and tomorrow there will be clean linen everywhere. The cats and I are enjoying being inside and not being in Galveston.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Last Thursday, the contractor said, "Do not use the water upstairs. Or, you can use the water, but the drain is not hooked up." On Friday afternoon I asked if I could use the upstairs bathroom and he said 'sure.' He said there was a 99.9% certainty I would have my washer hooked back up that night. This did not happen, nor did it on Friday or Saturday afternoon (why did he say he would come and work Saturday afternoon?).

On Monday, I left, hoping reasonably that I might be able to do laundry that night. I got to work. The nice man who wanted only to print 450 copies of a newsletter about Peace with Justice was there. The newsletter was not printing very well at the office down the hall, so I said, "Come, use ours, we'll bill the UCC."

Now the UCC and my computer are not on the same server and are in many ways separated from one another, though we do share the slowest T1 on earth. Both Lisa-of-the-UCC's and my computer's were running _very_ slowly, like ten or 15 seconds to change windows, a similar lag when typing (the letters would appear singly and with hesitation). And the computer could talk to the fancy printer, but only very slowly, so when I asked it to print 450 copies it had to spool it very slowly 450 times. Very slowly.

After about 100 copies, I noticed that the hyperlinks in the newsletter (which they had assured me was entirely black and white) were appearing in color, jacking the cost of each 4 p copy from five cents to forty. I had been trying to give Peace a chance so I had asked them before but they swore there was no color in it. Right. Periodically the copier would misfeed and need to spool all over again. I did it in smaller batches, in monochrome.

I called the former IT guy In DC who was unhelpful. I had bounce notices from addresses in Germany and other places to which I have not sent anything, so I assume we were zombie'd. Getting a new, on-the-scene IT guy can be my boss's first job when he gets back.

I did have a pleasant time with the Peace gentleman; he is from Virginia and there are few other suitable words for him. He's charming, and he gave me food and we had a good time dissing Sarah Palin.

Paul the contractor called and said that the washer was not happening on Monday. Indeed... there was a problem, because when he had said I could use the upstairs bathroom he had only meant the water and the drain had not been connected all weekend.... no matter what kind of day I had had, his was worse.

The copier, chuntering along at last, announced that it would need its technician soon, so I left a service call. They said the tech would be there Tuesday. This kind of warning usually comes about 4 days in advance, so it was with displeased surprised that I read about four minutes later that the copier wanted its technician NOW and there would be no more copies. As it was already an hour and a half after I usually leave, we left.

For whatever reason, the slowness and clumpiness of the computers was intensely wearing. I went home and tried to quilt the difficult bit (the difficult bit I am on, anyway, I am sure there are others) and then went and watched TV.

This morning the shower was cold. I resolved to ask Paul about it.

I went to work, where the bookkeeper was keeping books only the copier wasn't working. Indeed, it was not, and I asked the tech service if they were coming and they said oh, yes, before lunch, and the nice Virginian gentleman stayed until about 12:30 and I said I would call after the tech came, which of course he did not. The computer was back up to speed.

After the Virginian man left, the bookkeeper tore into me for saying anything unkind about Sarah Palin (actually, I had been wondering where TIME Magazine heard Palin had slashed the budget of a teen mothers' home in a time of prosperity, because that sounded like something they damn well ought to footnote). Despite not agreeing with Palin's stance on abortion, she said it was a GOOD thing to have someone with no experience in government, and how could I say she wasn't qualified? People with education are always saying that and it was so unfair, Judy knew lots of smart people with no education, and people with education in HER opinion were too often living in their own little world.

I said you could say that about Alaska in general, for that matter, and I didn't like SP dissing community organizers. Judy said if Obama was such a great community organizer why hadn't we heard of anything significant he had done while community organizing? And on, and on, even though I apologized to her and said I had certainly not intended to say anything hurtful since I liked her and valued her company. "Well," she said, "You should think who else is in the room before you spout off about politics." I hadn't been talking to her, but never mind. I was glad she hadn't heard me yesterday. I was also irked that she was nasty when I tried to apologize for inadvertently offending her. I said that building was a well-known liberal stronghold.

Later, when we had changed the subject, she explained how much the general economic malaise was affecting her and her boyfriend and I wanted to say "Well, whose fault is that? and you're voting for MCCAIN?" but I was afraid she would hurt me.

Paul reported that the washer needed one more part but the drains were working again. I asked about whether he had turned off the hot water. He went and checked around and reported that I had no oil, which is annoying since I am on automatic delivery.

I would like a peaceful life, with a chance of laundry.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Calm after the storm

Not that a great deal is happening, particularly in terms of my kitchen, solidly mired in the astral plane. We have almost got the washer back. Almost.

I finished one of two (the usual number) sleeves on the raspberry Moss Stitch sweater (and if you live in Central NH and can figure out Norwegian/Danish purl the fourth one down, as approvingly adopted by Too Much Wool, do let me know. It is some comfort that even such a speed demon as Cassie finds moss stitch a slow proposition. About two inches of Moss stitch and three of K2bP1 cuff to go, and then I can pull out the neck (size 6 needles) and redo it on size 4 and I think it will be finished.

I spent Friday night very pleasantly at effectively blogless Sarah's working on the Philosopher's House Socks and worrying about early-onset Alzheimer's, since I could not for the life of me follow the heel directions. It is the second sock. I had no trouble with the first one. The second one did at least four different things to avoid becoming, including a triumphant dropping stitch that took out about seven rows of heel flap.

*** I like the idea of the different socks, and I want to like Cat Bordhi (I drool in anticipation of the book she has promised with weird historic designs from the First Nations people), but the layout of New Pathways gives me hives. I get dizzy and confused from the "turn to page this, and while there, turn to page that, and did you write down the secret numbers on enough small pieces of paper? No? Turn to where you stuck it, then. Now turn back," and I am somewhat comforted that Sarah, who is a better knitter than I shall ever be, murmurs "Was she on CRACK?" Jessica, who is pregnant and suggests that her brain function is not at its very best, is leaving the book for later. These are not things that should be making Bordhi's publisher feel comfortable.

Now I have looked on Ravelry and several people had their copy of the book spiral-bound, which might help somewhat. I am wondering about looseleaf.***

But no one seems to have made the mistake I made on BOTH socks that results in the increases not being centered on the instep. The same error? um, mutation? happened on both socks, which suggests to me either that I skipped something both times or misinterpreted it the same way both times. I don't entirely feel this is my ineptitude; I wonder if the pattern testers have somehow GOT Cat Bordhi in a way that makes things seem more obvious to them than to the least of the pattern-users (that would mean me). Stockholm syndrome among the manual writers.

I hope the next Pathways books are easier to use.

And I am making the little cute scattered triangles in the quilt borders. When OBD and I were looking at the pattern, I wondered how they made the little triangles. I was horrified to see, in this really nice book (okay, it's a mostly nice book, but it has interesting, easy patterns and you don't have to like her colors) directions to stick them on with fusible interfacing a) so they will eventually peel off, looking b) God-awful as they gradually dehisce and c) being stiff and unlovable before they do so. Not that I don't hate and fear applique (why does this spellchecker let me get by without an accent aigu?), but difficulty is less abhorrent than tackiness (and in the case of defused interfacing, untackiness). So I needed to hem the little things. One can iron them. If it is not sickeningly humid (as it usually is while you wait for the hurricane) and you don't mind handling very hot pieces of 2.5" on a side I-don't-really-want-to-fold-over cotton. Don't talk to me about freezer paper.
So I went to JoAnn's and found this. It is, as you notice, ridiculously expensive, but it does what it says it will and it doesn't seem to gum up the sewing machine needle. And I made about 50 little cute triangles last night, ready to sew on today. Even if it doesn't disappear when washed (I wonder, having accidentally tasted the stuff, if it might be very concentrated soap), it won't be the strange stiffness of polyester interfacing. Which is fine in its place, but not on a sleeping thing.

The Loom Room is becoming my main hangout. There is excellent light, but on a hot evening I think the track lighting is adding to the toasty sensation. The other end of the room is less well lit and slightly cooler; I moved the OttLite out of the living room and over to the 'sewing table' (usually a place to put things so I have to clear it off when I want a flat surface). Periodically I rearrange the furniture, including the big bags of fleece. Even if I finish the socks, the other socks, and the sweater, and the other sweater, and the quilt, I will still have enough roving to make many more. Only what can you make out of yarn that is too soft to make socks out of, not enough to make a sweater out of, and too dear to make a scarf someone else won't much like out of?

My son introduced me to The MiddleMan, which you can watch for free. It reminds me of the Avengers and the Man from UNCLE, and Buffy. It's pretty good. I am enchanted that my son or anyone in his generation knows about the Avengers.

Between this and Jon Stewart (now apparently available the morning after at Comedy Central), upon whom I relied for coverage of the political conventions, I can't be snooty about not watching TV. I wish could report a quantum leap in the number of hours spent knitting, but sometimes I just sit and stare.

Regarding Hanna, it rained really a lot, with no thunder but great enthusiasm.

I yearn to do laundry in my own home.