Monday, January 28, 2008

On the home front

Sheet rock dude ain't too reliable. We agreed to meet at my house at 4:30. He called at 6:30 to say he didn't think he could make it. His girlfriend took the truck to El Dorado and he has to babysit the grandkids. He also has friends who can fix furnaces and air conditioners if I'm interested or my friends are interested. Are ya'll interested? Didn't think so.

He's going to try to meet me tomorrow. The only hope I have of finishing this is that his tools are in my garage. Otherwise, I'll have to wade into DIYville, and there are many good reasons I don't visit that place.

Since I've been home so much and hubby seems to be avoiding home lately, I've had time to do a lot of things: knit, spin, clean. I have to get out soon before I start clawing at the yellow wallpaper. Srsly.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Home Improvements

Master craftsman, def: one who makes household repairs as a hobby. Identifying characteristics include valuing thrift and/or uniqueness over function and municipal code compliance.

This week I've stayed home nearly every night because the electrician was working on the house. I read or knitted or spun and went to bed on time. Hubby has been away teaching classes and running errands. Being home with just the cats and the occasional noises the electrician made was very quiet punctuated with a few troubling discoveries. Friday was the electrician's evening off and mine as well. Dinner with a good friend was a welcome treat.

Today I braced myself for the daily discovery of our master craftsman's handiwork. The master craftsman probably owned our house in the late 70s and early 80s. Home improvement projects must have occupied all of his free time. For three days, the electrician would find wires that had unexpected relationships or, more dramatic, were charred. The lighting in the backyard appears to be attached to the kitchen light fixture via the dining room light fixture. The electrician had been taking everything in stride -- he originally was going to spend 20 minutes on Monday to install a light fixture--and today he brought a friend to help.

They finally finished the wiring at 5 this evening, but not before a few more exciting discoveries and someone falling through the ceiling. Enter sheet rock dude. The sheet rock dude will be finishing sometime tomorrow.

So far, we're getting some good things out of this: 1)We finally have a fan with a light in the bathroom. Hey, when an expert is at the house, why not buy in bulk? 2) The wiring is updated -- no more charred wires. 3) While sheet rock dude is here, he is going to replace an extra wall of sheet rock for us. The old one had all of the trademarks of our master craftsman.

To my way of thinking, replacing sheet rock shouldn't involve too much discovery. Denial is firmly in place. All will go well. There will be bluebirds, rainbows, and silver sprinkles.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Electrons and neutrons and protons! Oh my!

The wonderful electrician discovered more problems with our wiring that even I had feared. While he was attaching new wires for a light fixture to the wiring, a light in an entirely different room popped and went dark. We were both astonished since he'd powered off the light fixture he was using and the breaker. This problem lead deep into the attic under six inches of insulation and up there to where the extension cord attached to the garage door opener leads. (I never should have mentioned that cord in the last post; it has jinxed everything.)

Closer inspection of the light fixture that went "pop" revealed that all of the light bulbs had broken. He had to use pliers to remove the metal threads. That brave man is going to return to our house over the course of the next few days and replace the wiring over the kitchen, the dining room, and of course, the garage. I feel so lucky.

Who knows what craziness might have happened if those light bulbs broke and I was home alone? I might have gone right out and made a contract on a new home -- one that isn't broken. One that doesn't have dirty dishes. Soon though, all will be well, and I won't even need to move.

Kate Middleton is losing her charm for me. My new obsession is the proper use of i.e. and e.g.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Beans and Technology

My jewelry box holds two treasures that are just waiting for spring to arrive so they can be planted. One is the bean that my husband’s family brought with them when they emigrated from Switzerland to Russia to North Dakota and, finally, to Kansas. No one knows exactly what sort of bean it is – only that the seeds are saved, treasured and planted again in the spring. The beans that are saved for food are harvested before the seeds are mature. The pods are laid out on newspapers to dry, and later in the winter, usually for a holiday meal, the beans are boiled in water with chunks of ham. The result is an earthy, rich stew.

These beans are a love-it or hate-it affair. One of my husband’s brothers detests them. He christened them “dirty sock beans” and the name stuck. He’s passed it along to our nephew, who for his fourth Christmas ever, rolled on the floor and made gagging noises when it was suggested that he actually try the dirty sock bean. Um, thanks a bunch, Uncle Jeremy.

The other beans are called Emperor Runner beans. They are black with magenta spots. My sister saved them from her plants this summer, and she reports that the flowers are orange and red. Hummingbirds find them irresistible.

In other news, the kitchen light fixture may once again produce light. Our house has interesting quirks such as a mysterious orange cord that disappears above the garage roof and appears to power the garage door opener. It works. I don’t ask questions.

The kitchen light, however, no longer produces light. Flipping the switch produces a buzzing sound, the breaker blows, and then I have to go downstairs in the dark and reset the breaker. At first I tolerated it, but a co-worker gave me a lecture on fire hazards. I’m a great big chicken about catching on fire. If I even imagine something could cause a fire, I cannot rest until it has been fixed. An electrician will arrive at any minute on a white horse and he will deliver light to the kitchen and all will be well with the world. I hope he hurries.
I know you all were worried about our girl Miss Kate Middleton. Her plans with the prince are uncertain, but she may study with a New York photographer this spring. A gal needs a career to fall back on these days.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Too Many Thoughts, Cannot Focus

The Gossip Section: the Twist Tryst was wonderful. The proprietress might not have known we were coming, but she was her usual poised and welcoming self. My stomach was full of tomato bisque soup, my hands were full of yarn, and Ms. Naplover had invited lots of friends. Even KnitandFit was there although she was busy teaching a class.

Much to my relief PrincessLiaK doesn't hate us. When she left Wichita and headed off for a new adventure, I was sad and I missed her. Then, before she even reached her new home, her blog disappeared. I feared it was too much yarn, too much craziness, too many yarn-crazy Wichitans that drove her to hide all traces of her previous identity. Fortunately we didn't have to call in CSI (and I believe that the KIPers would have done exactly that) because her blog reappeared for all to enjoy. Whew.

Confession time: I've never been smitten by Mr. Greenjeans even though all of the cool knitters want to drape him around their shoulders. Yesterday everything changed. BzzLaraBzz wore her Mr. Greenjeans and now I cannot stop wanting to make my own. She should post pictures. It was wonderful.

Too much stash: However, I'm not ready to commit to Mr. Greenjeans because I have several dates with sweaters (a.k.a yarn is purchased and waiting). The Everyday Cardigan from the Classic Elite Yarns Celebrated Classics is on my needles in Berroco Comfort -- love machine washable. Next will be the Oblique in Cascade Yarns Eco Wool. Last on the list is Tailored Scallops from Lace Style in Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride.

For someone who has commitment issues, putting this list of projects out for all to see is quite a risk. Meanwhile, other projects appear and grow . . . for instance the Monkey Sock in my purse in a creamy colored Panda Wool seems to have added several inches to the foot since I turned the heel. I do not remember knitting this. It could be magic. Stranger things have happened in my purse.

Big World: I would like to concern myself with serious things. The election for instance. I'd really like to see Edwards win a race. If each of the top three for the Democrats and the Republicans won a couple of primaries each, the political theater would be extraordinary. The pundits would talk themselves hoarse. I'd tune in. I almost got extra-cable channels just to watch Jon Stewart.

Since Benazir Bhutto was killed (and, no, I do not believe she died from hitting her head on the sunroof), I haven't been able to muster any interest in the Pakistan election. She was by no means a model of perfection, but I admired how calm and brave she seemed when she walked through crowds of angry people. She really believed in what she did.

These days though? I really want to know whether Prince William will propose to Kate Middleton.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Oh joy! It is the weekend. Tomorrow I'm meeting a friend for lunch at a place that serves the best tomato bisque ev-ar. Then we will lounge and knit and knit and lounge at the LYS.

This is the meaning of life.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Money for nothing and your guys for free

Free stuff can be pretty darn groovy. Dawn from Custer Cottage dyed a bunch of border Leicester in brilliant colors -- big bird yellow, pure deep blue, and clear turquoise. She gave me some, "to play with," she said. It spins up like a dream. The spindle on the left show how it looks.

My plied grey merino and white blue face Leicester look so austere by comparison. The BFL practically spun itself. What's not to love about a self-spinning yarn?

Speaking of love, the medical community has some explaining to do. Now I love my doctor. He's cute, he's kind, he's not afraid to prescribe antibiotics when my sinuses start to rot. But there is a terrible thing happening in the local medical community. They are recommending that people give up -- brace yourself -- caffeine. In case you wondered, that includes coffee.

Before today, I thought it might just be an ugly rumor, one of those muttered offenses that becomes an urban legend. A friend of mine related a similar tale which ended by him encouraging the doctor to "go fuck himself." I thought, perhaps, he exaggerated. He did not.

Just today, I have been encouraged by my own doctor not to partake of caffeine. I explained that life just wasn't as rosy; the sky wasn't as blue. Coffee made these things happen. He insisted that happiness comes from inside a person. I could see that it was a lost cause. Didn't he know that happiness comes from inside because that is where I put the coffee? Maybe one day I'll give up coffee. Also, dear doctor, you can stick it where the coffee don't perk.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Return of Technology

We have a digital camera again! Watch out. I'll take your picture. This camera is small enough to fit in my purse and it connects the printer without having to connect to the computer. Who knew cameras played so well with printers?

There are so many things I've wanted to share during the technology fast, but I cannot remember all of them. Here's my spinning wheel. The new hasn't worn off yet, and I must play with it every day or I feel deprived.

Also, a few cat pictures. Norah has perfected the innocent look -- just working at the desk. She put it to good use after nipping Atticus' tail and awakening him from a nap. You can see his murderous feelings are genuine.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

It's all normal again

Life has settled down again. Good cheer has made its appearance once again. I'm returning to the land of the healthy, the snot-free; it is the lifestyle everyone envies this time of year. I can go places without a spare tissue in my purse let along the family-sized box I had been toting. Next week I could have a red nose again, but for now, I'm free to breathe and brag.

In December, a spinning wheel, a Kromski Mazurka, arrived on our front porch. I unpacked it immediately and threw the packaging all over the living room. (Much to my delight, the packing material was old Polish newspapers). The cats jumped in and out of the mess, and the husband muttered, "This would have been a good weekend project." Bah! I stayed up late to assemble the wheel, but then I had to leave it home alone while I went to work. It was very difficult to leave my new toy.

Spinning is so soothing and addictive. It reminds me of knitting in this way. I'm even wondering if knitting is a gateway hobby, a way to darker hobbies like spinning and weaving and animal husbandry. I'm not that hard core yet. I've just now gotten the wheel to keep moving in the same direction and I don't have a good place to keep a llama.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Fightin' Words

The husband did not just say, "It's Tuesday night, NOVA is on tv, and the Gilmore Girls is cancelled." Oh no, he did not because it would only be cruel to remind me of my beloved tv show.

If he actually did say that, he might have a little leeway because we just finished making spinach, mushroom, and bean burritos. It took 45 minutes. I honestly thought it would be easy to chop a little, cook a little, and then eat. Mental note: too many little things will eventually equal something difficult.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sunday Coffee, Socks, and Peru

January is a spartan month. I often look forward to January during the chaos and overindulgence of December. It seems regulated, routine, sensible. The seed catalogs arrive, and I begin to think about my garden. After receiving so many wonderful Christmas presents, I'm not afraid to declutter -- over-abundance is a given. January is secure.

This morning though, January looked bleak. School starts for my husband next week. I've fully absorbed how ridiculously optimistic my goals at work are. My stack of reading (usually a pleasure) now looks daunting. Despite a partially knitted Monkey Sock (in off-white panda cotton), I wanted to go back to bed. When overwhelmed, I'm a big believer in hiding under a nice wool blanket.

Fortunately, Starbucks makes a lovely white mocha drink. It brings cheer, optimism, and happy tummy. Someone once told me that this particular drink contains one hundred million calories. Surely it is an exaggeration. The husband and I were contemplating a dreary morning when he mentioned the 'bucks, and life seemed so much better. I'm particularly intrigued by the message printed on my cup.

The Way I See It #288:
My cousin in Tibet is an illiterate subsistence farmer. By accident of birth, I was raised in the West and have a Ph.D. The task of our generation is to cut through the illusion that was inhabit separate worlds. Only then will we find the heart to rise to the daunting but urgent challenges of global disparity.
--Losang Rabgey, Ph.D.
National Geographic Emerging Explorer and co-founder of Machik, a nonprofit helping communities on the Tibetan plateau.

It echoes an intriguing blog entry I read yesterday at Abby's Yarns. For me, it is reason 976 to go to Peru. And, reason to hope.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everyone!

I should have a healthy fear of resolutions, but I don't. I really do want to be healthier and stronger by next year. This is not just because I set a personal record for snot production last month. I'm on my third week of a cold and the second box of tissues. It's an attractive feeling.

Where was I? Oh yes. Good health. I would like to take steps toward good health. Small bits of daily exercise and taking my lunch to work are my big goals.

My camera is not coming back. I really miss the camera, and I have thought about many pictures I would like to share. Alas. No camera. Over the weekend, I took some bold steps, browsed Amazon and found the Cannon PowerShot cameras. They are very attractive and would fit into my purse. I could take pictures of everyone at all times. To buy or not to buy? Hmmmm.