Friday, December 25, 2009

So this is Christmas...

and I hope it is a merry, peaceful, warm, joyful one for all. This end of the family met at my sister's house for dinner (defined as the afternoon meal), so I'm already home with a full belly and some lovely gifts, not the least of which is some natural yarn from my BIL's cousin's sheep, from their farm in Vermont, spun by Green Mountain Spinnery. Four skeins, two of that lovely natural creamy color, one grey, and one dark brown. (Mindy, if you're reading this, it's dark like the fleece I bought at Rhinebeck!)

Mitzie received a new bed for the holiday and has pretty much spent yesterday and today in it. As in, all of both days. I think she would eat and drink from it if she could reach. Some folks asked how she managed to dislocate her hip; I don't really know. My best guess is that she was jumping to or from her latest favorite spot (on top of my kitchen cabinets) and miscalculated somewhere on the trip. Now that she has a comfy new bed, she doesn't seem to mind being in the crate much at all. She had the pillow from her basket in there before, but it's meant to be in the basket, which provides the side-bumpers. Therefore, without the basket, she kept sliding off it. This is much better.

So once I hit "publish," I plan to put on fresh PJs, pick up my sister's Hemlock Ring throw (which is going SO MUCH easier this time, it makes me wonder if I was briefly functionally illiterate the last time I tried) and knit until I decide to go to bed. I left the house with a whole pie of one kind this morning, and came back with a whole pie of three kinds, so I think I'm all set there, too. Be well, everyone.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Down to the Wire

There's five days until Christmas (in case you were wondering). I finished my Eastlake sweater and the Pastaza sweater; the next time I make it, I need to do something about the sleeves. The pattern calls for a rolled-up cuff, and I don't like it. But if you leave the cuff unrolled, you get a very wide edge. It's not awful, but I'm not enamored of it. I want to cast on fewer stitches, and then monkey with the rate of increase to have the correct number for the beginning of the yoke. Shouldn't be too hard. Hopefully I'll remember I want to do this when the time comes. Post-it note, need to find a Post-it note.

One thumb left on my niece's mittens. It's an easy pattern, but since it's knit at a pretty firm gauge, it's tiring on the hands. I may still finish it tonight. I'm a little tired of brown yarn today, though. Many thanks to Michael Palin and two episodes of his "Great Railway Journeys" that got me through most of the right hand.

Cast on for my sister's Hemlock Ring Doily Throw. Now, there's no way on this green earth that it'll be done for Friday, and I know it. I knew it never would be after I ripped out the first attempt. I'm up to round 16 and I like this SO much better. I can see what I'm doing and the yarn is better suited to the project. Someday it'll probably end up felted, and if it happens, I'll make another.

Haven't cast on for Dad's sweater yet, but that's OK too. We'll have our Christmas next Monday, so there's time.

In non-knitting news, last week was quite dramatic in the cat department. Mitzie somehow managed to dislocate her hip. Two nights at the hospital, two x-rays, lots of painkillers, and one night of near-panic for me (as soon as the vet mentioned "possible need for an orthopedic surgeon" I started to cry...I simply can't afford something like that) later, she's back to her old self. Mostly. She's crated when I'm not around to watch her. If I'm here, I let her sleep on the couch or the comfy chair (and she's sleeping a lot) so I can stop her if she tries to jump down. But back in the crate she goes if I need to go upstairs or to the store or something. She doesn't love it, but there's no way around it. (It's a wire dog crate, by the way, not a travel carrier.)

Oh yeah, the day after the snow day was the annual winter concert with my advanced band and 4th/5th grade chorus. My band is small but mighty, and I have a tuba-playing former student who comes back to provide the bass line. The chorus collectively got a case of the heebie-jeebies that night, but we made it and got many compliments. My exhortations to "Dig out! Dig out!" during rehearsals served us well. (It means "Figure out where the hell you are, compared to where the hell the rest of us are and GET BACK IN!") If nothing else, I train flexible musicians.

If I don't check in again before Christmas, I hope my readers have a joyful and peaceful holiday season. I've already missed Hanukkah and probably others, but a wish for peace seems to fit no matter what the occasion.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Day!!!

It started as a two-hour delay, and about an hour later they called the whole thing off. I would guess we have about 3-4" of snow, which isn't what closed things down; it's the layer of sleet and freezing rain on top of it. Purl Street hasn't been plowed (7:52), so I'm sure the roads out in the hinterlands are in even worse shape. Hill roads aren't reliably paved here, and many of them lack a shoulder (and the space to have one...on your right, we have a hill, and on your left, we have the drop-off to the hollow). I am a happy girl today.

So: there's two sticks of butter on the counter coming to room temperature so I can make a batch of buttermilk biscuits and a large loaf of white bread, half of which I'll take to school tomorrow. There's the neck-trim stitches to be bound off on my Eastlake sweater, some more mileage to be put on a sweater my dad will give as a gift (in Cascade Pastaza, an old Bernat pattern from 1985. It's a no-button cardigan, with a twisted-stitch yoke and raglan shaping. The original calls for the bottom part of the body to the armholes to be 21 1/2 inches. Hah. Sixteen is plenty. It's a nice pattern, though, and goes quickly.

Speaking of going quickly, there's also Bella's Mittens for my niece. One is finished, and they go fast. They're knit in chunky yarn with smaller-than-you'd-expect needles for a nice dense fabric. They're nearly elbow-length, which is perfect for my niece; I think she only wears t-shirts no matter the weather. (At Thanksgiving, she noticed that my thermostat was set at a whopping 67. I said I had turned it up for her and to put on a sweatshirt. She declined. Oh well.) I may make a pair for myself, but just a little shorter.

And of course there are two projects not yet begun, but if they're not finished for Christmas, it'll be OK. There's a sweater for Dad in Berroco Vintage, a nice superwash blend. He sheepishly admitted that he felted that last one I made for him. This one's an old Interweave Knits pattern, a knit-purl patterned gansey-looking thing. For my sister, there will be a Hemlock Ring Doily blanket. I had started this a while ago also in Vintage, but on 10 1/2s, I didn't like the fabric. It was too loose and sleazy between the large needles and the superwash yarn. So instead, I went back to the yarn suggested in the pattern,Cascade Ecological Wool. $15 a skein, two sekins needed. Can't beat that with a stick.

Hmmm, can I link to anything else? I didn't feel it was right to tell you about my fab gift-knitting and not provide sources. Who knows, you may have been looking for just the thing. Oh, the Pastaza link? I am using one of the discontinued colors, so the price is correct. There's other, non-discontinued colors for regular price. I think Berroco is doing some great things lately; props to Norah Gaughan. If you really want to know which IK Dad's sweater is, let me know and I'll go find it. Currently, I am too lazy to go upstairs. It's pre-Melanie Falick, if that's any indication. Mid-90's, I think.

And now, enough blogging...time to get knitting on this beautiful bonus day.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

And One More Thing...

I'm going to blame some of this ennui on PBS (I may have mentioned this before). EVERY DAMN TIME I feel a downturn in my mood, there's a freakin' pledge drive on. Coindence? I think not. I need "Antiques Roadshow" and "Secrets of the Dead" and "Craft in America," dammit! Andrei Rieu, Doo-Wop 3784, and Lawrence Welk's Greatest Hits are NOT CUTTING IT.

There. I feel better already.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Random Act of Blogging

Oy. Busy busy, but that's not any different than anyone else reading this. I'm going to attempt a catch-up.

1. Rhinebeck: everything I hoped it would be, with the possible exception of ten degrees warmer. August in October is not necessary, but neither is early December.

2. House: looking ever-more like a home instead of a construction-waste and plastic-bin dumping ground. There's just one bin of things without a spot, and once I get a desk and another bookshelf, that should be that.

3. More House: There is one futon mattress on the trundle bed, and another will be on its way in a paycheck or two. They aren't fancy (no springs), but since they won't be in regular use, I figured they'd be fine. Besides, have you priced 6" deep twin-sized spring mattresses lately??? Also, there is a bed frame in the other spare bedroom. No mattress there yet either, but it was a purchase I couldn't pass up. Picture soon, with any luck. (Also, mattress soon, with any luck.)

4. Yet More House: There's curtains on almost every window now (the valances and shades have been up); it finally occurred to me that the tiered panels I used while living in Apartmentia would probably work rather well on the bottom halves on the windows. And they do. A little more privacy, and a little more light-filtering. It's a nice effect. I've also found fabric to do the office window, but that probably won't happen until Christmas break. That's OK; at least it's here. I prefer to do a whole big whack of sewing once I get the machine out.

5. Thanksgiving: I had it here. Being able to host my family for the first time in two years was delightful and bittersweet at the same time. Amazingly, the last Thanksgiving I prepared in its (almost) entirety was just before I got divorced, and we were both still in the house at the time. Apartmentia was too small to have more than one or two other people over at any given time. So....wow. I wasn't expecting to feel sad about it, but it passed. The fact that there were three kinds of pie to squash any extraneous feelings down probably didn't hurt either.

6. Fiber-related: almost no spinning has happened in about two months. This saddens me also. Christmas knitting is in full swing, but there were a couple of false starts. Hopefully we shall charge ahead starting NOW. There's also two pots of onion-skin juice sitting on the stove waiting for jars. I'm thinking that if I make some dye extracts as I get the chance to, when I have more time (see above, "Christmas break"), it should facilitate the actual dyeing. I'd like to get an indigo vat going again, too. Indigo is magic, no matter how many times you see it happen. (Sorry folks, I use indigo crystals. I'm not THAT much into authenticity.)

7. Health-related: yeesh. I think I've been on a round of antibiotics monthly since school started. I've not been sick enough to be SICK, but enough to put a damper on a lot of things. The kids at school got hit hard; it seems to have tapered off. We're afraid of Round Two, though. On the mental health side, both meds seem to be working for the most part, but mornings are getting increasingly difficult. It doesn't help that I live in the Northeast; we aren't known for abundant sunshine at any time of year, and now it's dark by about 5:00. Also, I've never exactly been a morning person. I don't mind being a little cranky in the morning, but waking up anxious and self-doubting is not my definition of "cranky." I take one Wellbutrin XLR in the morning when I get up, and I'm wondering if it's totally worn off by the next morning. I wouldn't be surprised if there were an uptick in the dose shortly. As usual, on the one hand, I know that if it helps me feel better and function better, it's a good thing and who gives a crap that it's more medication. On the other, it's a little hard to avoid feeling like things must be getting worse, or I wouldn't NEED more medication. I want to be one of those people who can taper off and return to the non-medicated life and still be OK. But that doesn't look like part of the plan just yet.

So there's at least the quick and dirty. Off to put a dent in one item of gift-knitting...

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Am Writing This From A Workshop

Please ignore as needed...this has potential...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gems from the music room, part three.

Next door to me is a special education class. The kiddos in there are severely developmentally delayed and a few of them are medically fragile as well. I love them. I love them hard. Every gain in there is cause for celebration; one little one (who isn't so little...she's eight years old) has begun babbling like your average early toddler. There's hope for her to say "mommy" and her own name some day.

A new little guy has joined the class. He's pretty far down the autistic spectrum. His receptive language (what goes in) seems to be pretty good; he can follow directions and has a good grip on his surroundings. His expressive language, not so much. There's plenty of sound coming from him, some of it meaningful and some not. But he's engaged.

I like to drop in when I can; the printer I'm networked to is in there, but I like to come in for a "visit" too. So today, as I wandered in, this little guy had some free time and was on the carpet playing with marbles. He motioned for me to join him, and I did. One of the things we're always doing is talking AT these guys; encouraging and modeling for them proper social greetings, using names, expressing yes or no, and so on. So, knowing that he has words to use (he's probably the only one with functional speech in there, though one other kiddo expresses herself with an adaptive communication device), I said to him, "Say, 'Hi, Kish.' " (That's my surname, and we don't bother with titles in there.)

How did he respond?

He leaned over, said, "Hi," and then kissed my arm.

Kish? Kiss? Doesn't matter to me.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Three Months to the Day

Precisely three months after my bathroom ceased to be a functioning room in my house, on Friday, I came home to this:



And this:



Imagine, a sink, a toilet, and a bathtub, all on the same floor, in the same room, with no danger of them falling into the room below. Now, not only do I have a real bathroom, but I can also finally put to the bed the other two rooms affected by this whole mess. I can unpack the remaining boxes, hang some more pictures, choose some more paint colors. Let's face it, I'm a girl who likes some structure, and for the last seven months the state of where I would lay my head at night has been in some sort of turmoil. This gets me one step closer to a manageable amount of chaos in my home. I don't expect everything to be buttoned up neat and tidy in the next 24 hours, but I least I can wash up now as I get there.

Next: post-Rhinebeck! Only a week late!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Oh. Em. Gee.





It looks more and more like a bathroom everyday. It's hard to tell in my magnificent photography, but the tub surround is white subway tile. I luff it. There is a very good chance that this project will wrap up next week.

Beyond that, this weekend is Rhinebeck and I WILL REMEMBER MY CAMERA this year. There's fun stuff ahead!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

No Clever Title This Time

Just a check-in and of course, some bathroom updates. I mean, haven't you noticed a certain emptiness in your lives since the last time I told you about my plumbing? We can't have that.

Fred came by today and installed the little Corian bench in the recessed spot of the surround. There's the seat, and an apron attached to the front of it to eliminate as many water entry points as possible. The tile guys are coming on Tuesday to install, and should come back the next day to grout. Fred and the guys will then put the last part of the subfloor down, and then the vinyl can go in. After that, I could almost finish the work-installing the toilet and sink. OK, not really, but that's all that's left. By the time it's all finished, it'll be almost three months to the day that this began.

At some point this weekend, I need to paint the wainscot trim that rings the room. Being a bathroom, it's not acres and acres, and it certainly will be easier to paint a wall without a toilet in the way. I just need to get a little more motivated...just a little...

On other fronts, we've determined that the SAD (that I think almost every Northeasterner has a least a touch of) has invaded enough to make a little more medication necessary. I've made friends with the Wellbutrin, and I think it's helping already (about two weeks in). I don't feel as brittle, or that I'm faking it to get through my day, and when I joke and tease with my students, it feels genuine again. This may be the first time in three years that I actually feel like I enjoy my job. I think I've been functioning with low-level depression for that long, and am just at the point where I can't keep up with it on my own. There's still dissatisfactions in my life, and questions to be answered, and irritations to be dealt with, but it's not all so overwhelming. I feel like I just might have the energy to start dealing with them, instead of using that energy to just get through the day, and then feeling bad because I couldn't seem to dig myself out of that hole.

Rhinebeck is this coming weekend! It kind of snuck up on me, believe it or not. But now that I remember, I'm really looking forward to it. I need to pick up some special wine for a certain someone who raises goats *coughmindycough* and will get to meet her in person, and I'll see two other out-of-state friends then too. Perhaps because I've been spending money like I have a printing press in the basement, I'm not feeling the need to PURCHASE (!!!) this year, but I'm thinking about yarn to make Eris (I've had the pattern forEVer) and I'm sure there'll be spinning fleece too. Maybe not a whole fleece...but we'll see. If a nice CormoX winks at me just right, I may fall for it.

Speaking of spinning fiber, I decided I wanted to finally spin purposefully, instead of "let's see what the fleece says." To be honest, I feel like that's a cop-out once you're past the really-beginner stage. Perhaps if I were more of a designer, if I could "see" the potential in what I spun, it wouldn't seem like so flaky. But instead, it feels like a lack of discipline and leads to a Rubbermaid tote full of four ounces of this and four ounces of that which never get used. And I don't spin to collect. I spin to use.

So I have a two-pound lump of Ashland Bay merino that I acquired just after I bought my wheel two years ago. I always knew I wanted to make a sweater out of it eventually, and I thought I had the pattern until the latest Twist Collective came out. Ysolda's Vine Yoke cardigan changed my mind. If I'm going to make something that resembles her design, I need to spin a yarn similar to what she used (which happens to be Lorna's Laces Green Line worsted). It's a 10-ply yarn. Hah. I do have my limits. I'm going with 3-ply instead, so that I have a nice round yarn. If I could spin my singles finer, I would consider doing 4-ply...but I'd also like to wear this garment before I retire. So 3-ply it is.

To make a long story short, it worked! I spun up three strips of the top onto separate bobbins, plied them, set the twist, and swatched...and I got gauge on the first try! I am more than happy to claim beginner's luck here, but like the first pair of socks I made from my own measurements (and Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' guidance), now I know for sure that I can make ANYTHING I want, as long as I take the time to prepare. So far, it's a very satisfying process, and I like not feeling the urge to get online and buy the yarn given in the pattern. I'm sure I still will in the future (see above, "Eris"), but I'm not tied to it.

Now, if I could only convince the zoning folks that two Shetland sheep really would not be a problem in my yard...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Forward Motion

From this...



...to this...


And this...


...to this.



Oh, and there's this...




...although it isn't functional yet and will end up in the spare bathroom...er, bedroom when it's time to lay the vinyl. (At least it isn't on my front porch.)

At this point, the new drywall will probably remain unpainted for a while. (It needs more coats of joint compound anyway.) I am so eager to get the office stuff into the office that I really don't care that I'll have to move it all again to paint. I have no color scheme in mind for that room, so I can let it percolate.

Besides, my sister keeps reminding me how good she is at painting ceilings. I want her to prove it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pajama Day 1

Pajama Day 1 because I expect there to be many more Pajama Days here from the corner of Purl and Intarsia. I was going to change the blog over to that, wasn't I? I still will. Pajama Day was an official holiday when I lived in Apartmentia. I briefly considered trying to incorporate myself as a self-sustained foreign country while I rented, so I could could get foreign aid money. It never worked out, but Pajama Day stuck. And today is perfect for it, as it's damp and rainy, and I'm getting over the back-to-back sinus infections I seem to have acquired in three weeks of school.

So, some catching up:

I went to Rochester yesterday with my dad and his ladyfriend, and we saw Cirque du Soleil's "Alegria" production. Oh my. If you ever, ever get a chance to see one of their productions live, do what you must to get there. I started watching the Bravo channel marathons (usually Thanksgiving weekends, perfect as I was always wiped out from cooking the day before), and while those are pretty fascinating, there is no comparison to live. Breathtaking. I didn't want it to end.

Bathroom progress is slow...and I can't even say steady right now. There's cement board around the tub, and drywall ready to be installed in the room below and one small corner in the bathroom. Except the drywall was supposed to be hung this week, not just delivered to my eventual office; at least, that's what I thought was going to happen. There may have been a glitch in our communications. Either way, Fred said to me, "You're going to be happy on Monday when you come home and the drywall is up," and I agreed...but added, "I will be even HAPPIER when there's a sink and toilet in the same room as my tub." And since they won't go in until the vinyl is laid, and that won't happen until the tile is installed, and that won't happen until the drywall is up...you can see where I'm going with this. Right now, the positive spin on this is if I get my keester over to the paint store (yes, we still have a free-standing small-business paint store in town, and I am devoted to helping it stay open) and get some white enamel for the wainscoting, and the pretty pale pink for the walls above it, I can make a huge mess painting without worrying about the floor.

Went for a medication check-in Friday morning, and it was decided that perhaps we have a touch of the small black dog rearing its little head as the days get shorter. We aren't famous for our abundant sunshine up here anyway, and we're heading into nine more months of it. SAD, anyone? The good news is that the Lamictal is doing its job in the migraine-prevention department admirably; we may still need to up the dose, but we're going to give the Wellbutrin a chance to quiet the black dog first. I'm hopeful that I'll feel some relief before too long. I've been in worse places, but being in a better place is still attractive.

I know that I feel better when I do get out for some exercise, even when it's not sunny; unfortunately, one of things that happens when the black dog comes to call is that I hibernate (not unusual, I know). Any suggestions on how to overcome this part? It seems that if I could just sustain it for, let's say, a week, I'd probably see some results, and therefore continue. Or does it take longer? I tend to think of exercise in terms of forced labor; something you have to say you do before the doctor yells at you, or that has to have a productive outcome (it's OK to ride my bike to the store, but it's not OK to just go for a ride because it's a nice day-that's time wasted and you KNOW you have other things to do).

Hmmm. Perhaps we should investigate these Puritan overtones instead?

Monday, September 21, 2009

In Which Fiber is Mentioned!

Yes friends, for real! I'm going to start with something pleasant for once, and hopefully the trend will continue (until it doesn't, of course).

This past weekend was the Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival in Hemlock. It's a lovely little festival, it really is. There's classes and demonstrations, three barns with vendors, and wonderful yummy fair food. I did resist the funnel cake somehow; I'm not sure why. I eat it once, maybe twice a year and I shouldn't have passed up the opportunity. I did manage to eat two different kinds of homemade sausage, and boy am I glad I did. Deeeeelicious.

I loves me some Rhinebeck, and I have plans to go again, but there really is a decent selection at Hemlock. Golding is there; Jonathan Bosworth is there; The Merlin Tree is there. Ellen's Half-Pint Farm, too. Even Zeilinger's comes, because there is a small fleece competition and sale, and some of the vendors bring raw fleece as well. There's several local folks to support, which is great fun.

Purchasing was restrained, but that has to do more with the current stash than not seeing anything I wanted. I ended up with a pound of dark, dark CormoX top from Foxhill Fibers, and a pound of Merino top in "River Edge" from Clover Hill. Porcelain buttons were added to the hoard, and two beeswax candles found their way into my bag. Lovelovelove beeswax candles. I almost had a falling-down at Just Our Yarns, but I have a beaded shawl kit from them that I keep losing and finding, and I really want to do that first. If they're at Rhinebeck, I may have to pick up a hank of their cashmere. Maybe.

I also test-drove a couple more folding wheels for eventual decision-making. So far, I've tried the Ashford Joy, a Majacraft Little Gem, a Spinolution Bee, a Kromski Sonata, and a Bosworth Journey wheel. I'd still like to try a Louet Julia in the name of science, and a Lendrum is probably not on the radar as I don't think there's a dealer around here. If there's one at Rhinebeck, I'll give it a whirl.

So far, I've ruled out the Joy, the Bee, and the Sonata. The Sonata is a great wheel, to be honest, but I want something smaller. I see it more as a house wheel that you can tuck out of the way when you need the guest room. The Joy just didn't turn me on. Too low to the ground, maybe, and I'm pretty darn short. Whatever it is, I wasn't terribly comfortable sitting at it. The Bee....wellllll. The dealer had a great sales pitch. It's definitely compact when folded. It spun OK, and is double-treadle, which is what my Jensen is. (I don't compare these wheels to my Tina II. That wouldn't be fair.) It's an accelerated wheel and has an unusual but easy-to-work tensioning device (don't ask me to explain it). But it felt wobbly when treadled. Granted, it wasn't exactly on a flat surface, but I had a very hard time getting it to continue spinning in one direction. So I figured I'd come back around and if it was available, I'd take it over to the concrete pad in the barn and try it.

The Little Gem was next, and I was pleasantly surprised! I usually spin in double-drive, and the Little Gem is Scotch tension, but I don't think that's a huge problem. It treadled easily and was stable, even on the same sawdust surface. The delta orifice is interesting, and user-friendly. (The Bee has no orifice. You could spin kittens into your yarn if you wanted.) The carrying bag looks like tinfoil, but I bet it would be easy to make something more compact and attractive. It was easy to settle in to this wheel. For a small wheel, it feels very solid.

After a little more browsing, mom and I came back through the barn with the Bee in it. Another spinner was doing what I had intended; she took it over to the pad to try it out (and she had a lovely long-draw going on, too). I watched for a bit, and then heard what I wanted to hear: "This feels wobbly in the lower ratios." It looked wobbly side-to-side, too. Check that one off the list.

My favorite remains the Journey wheel. Le sigh. It is, by far, the most expensive of all. Totally worth it, I think too...but close to 300 some-odd dollars more than the Little Gem. I can't exactly afford another wheel right now anyway, so the point is moot. And when you buy a Journey wheel, you actually order one and put a deposit down. The current orders are scheduled to be finished in the spring of 2011. I could save up before then, right? I may have to do it. And if I miss this batch, I'm pretty sure there's another round of ordering in the spring.

I love spinning. At least as much, if not more, than knitting. But don't ask for dibs on my yarn stash just yet, OK?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Slight Redaction.

So after crabbing about pledge drives, last night's offering from the local PBS? Pete Seeger's 90th birthday celebration from Madison Square Garden last May. It made up for...um...some, just some of the other baloney that goes on during pledge drives. I distinctly remember being FASCINATED by "Riverdance" the first time I saw it. Possibly even the second and third. After the 7536th time? Not so much. Talk about beating a dead horse. (And we won't discuss "Lord of the Dance," OK?)

Linnea made a very good comment a couple posts back. She mentioned that perhaps the reason that my usual coping mechanisms don't work is because they also bring you to a place that invites introspection, which is in direct conflict with the anxiety screaming for full steam ahead. And she also described what I do in those situations as well: power-surf. In my case, it may not even be surfing, because I pretty much hit the same five or six sites over and over and over again.

I spend a lot of time in my head. A very dear friend used to say (wryly) about both me and herself, "If only other people were as self-aware as we are." I generally agree with whathisname who said that the unexamined life is not worth living. I work pretty hard at staying present. Unfortunately, when anxiety figures into this, it becomes a ferociously spinning hamster wheel of thought instead of rational introspection. If I allow myself into that introspective place when I'm in anxiety's grip, I won't find any solutions; rather, I'll just torture myself with all the what-ifs and how-could-I's and not-agains.

I didn't remember always being like this. I tied a lot of it to that awful man-boy experience I described earlier. That experience didn't cause my anxiety, but it was so extreme that it totally tipped the boat in that direction. Even then, I never grokked that this is a chronic condition in me, until the day (quite some time after that awfulness, enough time for an un-anxious person to be over it) I was on my feet in my counselor's office, screaming at her. I felt as if my head was going to blow off if I couldn't just get someone to LISTEN TO ME, for mercy's sake. This was so completely out of character for me that I knew there was more to it. I agreed to see a psychiatrist for more help than she could give me. THAT first visit was more than enough to convince me that yes, I am a pretty intense person, but intense in the extreme, and that the extreme was damaging me.

So now that I have something like a grip on the situation, I can look farther back in my life and say, "There...and there...ohYEAH, there..." and find many, many situations where my actions were anxiety-driven. I always thought it was "just me" (not that it isn't) and that was all there was to it. There wasn't anything to do about it, I just had to fight like hell against it. As a musician, and having to do solo recitals to graduate, can you imagine how hard I had to battle stage fright? Now that it's clear that there is help for this, I can't help but wonder (briefly...this is something I manage not to dwell on) how things would have been different if I had been able to put the effort of fighting the anxiety into my performance instead.

Thus...returning to Linnea's point, part of dealing with this is understanding that sometimes I just need to let my brain shut off, because under anxiety's influence, I am not making progress. I do need to keep an eye on how long the shut-down period becomes; you can tell by my abnormally regular posting that the recent shut-down period has ended. It is an effort to get going again, but once I do, then I have productive thinking that I can trust again. I always believed that just because I was thinking it, it must be so. (Where I thought I learned to be omniscient, I don't know.) I didn't understand that something else really could be influencing my thought process, and that I would need to become even more self-aware to be able to know the difference. Honestly, I think this weekend is one of the first times I've been at anxiety's mercy AND been able to pull back from it just enough to see what was happening, and have just the smallest bit of control over it.

I'm still uneasy over the situation with my friend. Communication has been spotty, and it is still taking a fair amount of effort to not immediately believe everything I think. It is possible that I'm mistaken about the whole thing; it's possible that I'm right. Tt is possible that something else entirely is taking place; it's possible that I'm not mistaken but the outcome will be different than I fear. It's possible that he's as anxious about it as I am. (At my calmest moments, that is the one that makes the most sense.) I do wonder, and would love to hear more of your thoughts about this:

I know now that when I'm anxious, I'm not thinking clearly and instead invent all kinds of drama that leads to the End. When I come down from that, the situation has many more possible endings, and I feel a lot calmer, even though I don't know what the ending will be. Is that telling myself a story to soothe myself (aka denial, I think)? Or is it more trustworthy than that?

I'm hoping to return to musing on bathroom construction again soon. And maybe, just MAYBE, talking about knitting, spinning, and fiber frivolity in general. Thanks for sticking with me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Finally, A Place to Lay Blame.

If you check out my comments from yesterday, you will see two fine pieces of wisdom. I'm chewing them over some more; perhaps savoring is a better term. Good stuff.

But on a lighter note, I think I know what brings these little episodes on:

PBS pledge drives. The television ones, not the radio drives.

I'm not kidding. I can look at the biggest examples of life-crap in the last few years, and gosh darn it, there is ALWAYS a pledge drive on when they happen. I am even a MEMBER of my local public broadcasting station. What do they have against me???!!! Why must you break my heart, Antiques Roadshow, why???

Monday, September 14, 2009

Classic.

Did you read that post yesterday? Didja? Amazing, wasn't it? Can you imagine sitting in a chair across from me listening to that instead of reading it?

Don't. It's kind of scary. It's chronic anxiety. It's overwhelming, I think; it certainly is to me. Today is better. I need to talk to my PNP, because as the seasons change and the days get shorter (thanks a lot, Northeastern US), we often need to adjust the medication I take to help control it. I need to take some other steps too, but oddly, one of the consequences of anxiety for me is my mind saying, Go!Go!GO!GO!!! and my body freezing up. This has probably saved me a lot of grief, because it keeps me from doing some really dumb stuff. But it also keeps me from engaging other coping mechanisms. Crazy shit, yanno...walking, knitting, spinning (at a WHEEL, not my own two feet). Anything that would discharge some of the anxious energy, really, or at least safely distract me long enough to let the energy dissipate. It's very frustrating.

And what's worse is the feeling I get if I have acted while in anxiety's grip. I said something to a friend over the weekend; it could change the nature of the friendship. Some would say that this person isn't much of a friend if they can't understand what's going on, and listen to me again when I've had a chance to relax. This is true. This friend knows this is part of me. And really, what I said is not of outright meanness or such like that. But I can't shake the feeling of impending doom, that this is THE END of something. What I brought up, in my own obsequious way, needs to be discussed; how I brought it up is cringe-worthy, in my mind. My belief is that friends can work things out. I have many, many friends who have stood by me when things have been exponentially worse. My intuition says that this person is a friend of that caliber. Anxiety tells me hell no, you're kidding yourself, you've screwed up again and you deserve what you get for what you said. Funny thing is, that sort of thing has happened only once in my life, and the man-boy who used it against me knew exactly what he was doing. (That's a textbook definition of something, isn't it? Certainly cruelty.) Experience should be my teacher: out of hundreds of thousands interactions I've had with people, only one has been a total schmuck. That experience was almost indescribably painful. Yet I am fortunate. (And perhaps sheltered, but we won't discuss that today.) I honestly can say that I can recall no one else ever treating me like that...yet it's the first place my brain goes during a conflict. Even though my experience has been otherwise, I expect to be unloaded for minor transgressions. Hmmm.

So I will continue to fight against it, to listen to the true teacher instead of the relentless pedant. The work goes on. Thank you for "listening."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What Fred Said

So, the bathroom...this past week's work should have been to frame in around the tub so that the tile guys can come in and do the surround. White subway tile, by the way; a little more spendy than the usual 4x4 square, but worth it given the age of the house. Perhaps I shouldn't be so worried about aesthetics. But perhaps I'm almost 40 years old and it's OK to want what I want.

Anyway.

The tub is shorter than the actual opening allowed for it, if you look at grout marks on the wall from long ago. To keep from moving all the plumbing so that the tub would be centered and THEN framing around it, there's about a foot between the back edge of it and the wall. Now, the last tub was in the same spot, and the solution was to bring the wall up to the edge of the tub. No big deal, but of course I can't keep my fingers out of it. I thought, wouldn't it be a nice thing to have a little shelf/seat at the back of tub...a place to sit whilst shaving one's legs? A spot to place my liter-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner? I mentioned this to Fred earlier in the week, and he let me know that it sounded like a good idea, but that he'd need to come look at it with me. (Just because I can visualize something doesn't mean that it'll really work.) That made sense to me, but he didn't come Thursday and he didn't come Friday, and he didn't call to let me know that he couldn't come those two days.

Now, this ties into my general anxieties and insecurities. I mightily resisted the urge after school on Friday to call and make something of a fuss. I usually believe that people are doing the best they can, and if something doesn't happen, there's probably an understandable reason why, even if I don't know the details. That being said, I also tend to feel like I'm at the bottom of way too many lists, including my own. As I've worked to raise myself up a few notches on mine, I feel more sensitive to perceiving that I'm so far down on other's. I walk a tightrope on this...not wanting to be a demanding harpy, but also needing to know where I stand. I decided to wait until Monday morning to call again.

Well, Fred called on Saturday afternoon, wondering if I was available to check out my bathroom idea. I was, as I didn't go very far from the couch. He came right over, we figured out a way to make it work (it involves a small piece of solid-surface material on the seat-a horizontal surface-to eliminate the problems of water pooling on a tiled and grouted surface). It also means some logistics for the framing, which Fred couldn't know until he saw it. I'll get what I want, just not on my schedule. And Fred assures me that this is my week for work...generally, that means I'm at the top of the list for the week. (Hopefully the tile guys will agree. After the tile goes in, the rest should be pretty quick: vinyl sheet floor goes down, toilet and sink installed. Done. I think.)

I have had many situations where my anxiety causes me to rush into something that I regret later. Not huge regrets, mind you, but ones that could be avoided if only I'd held myself steadier for just a little longer. At least to the point where I won't cry and instead can state my needs in a clear and calm way. For instance, not calling Fred in yelling haste on Friday, and I still got the result I wanted on Saturday without the drama. Too often I feel like I must do something NOWNOWNOW and it soothes the anxiety temporarily. But then I'm left feeling rather ashamed that I behaved the way I did.

How do you know when something is worth getting worked up over? I spend a large portion of my day being more patient than most, as an elementary schoolteacher. Am I just wrung out of patience by the time it comes to my personal stuff? Is my perception of what's important so screwed up that I don't know when it's OK to strike hard and hot, and when it's better to stay steady? When does staying steady turn into being a doormat? Is it possible to stay steady and still take care of myself? Why don't I have the confidence to make a decision and not second-guess myself for the following week? (I'm almost not exaggerating there, depending on the situation.)

These feelings aren't all about a bathroom, of course. I know that compared to a large percentage of the world's population, the fact that I have running water in my home means I am very fortunate indeed, even if it doesn't include a very convenient shower. But lately, I seem to assign the same importance to matters like this as I would to matters of grave concern. I don't seem to know the difference. Am I just inventing drama for my own weird entertainment? Is my life so empty?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

All I Want is to Sleep Past the Time I Get Up During the Week

But nooooooo.

On Saturday, after a week that kind of spiraled down into a perfect storm of crap (would you like details? TMI: got my period, then as I figured it was over, I got whatever was left ALL AT ONCE; sinus infection in time for the first day of school...yes, the antibiotics are helping; roughly four hours of sleep every night this week, delivered in two-hour blocks; absolutely no bathroom progress this week, despite scheduled promises; possible, yet unconfirmed disappointment in a friend, leading to confusion and self-doubt; that kind of fun stuff)...after THAT kind of week, I bounce wide-awake at 6:30 this morning, just like I should during the week, but can't.

I loathe waking up to an alarm clock, even though I have a rather pleasant one. It actually starts turning my lamp on about 20 minutes before the chime, so the room is light when I open my eyes. I also have it set on back-up for about 10 minutes after the chime goes off, and that turns on the radio. I need to move it over to my dresser rather than my nightstand, to make it harder to hit the snooze button. (This is effective, because once I'm vertical, I must pee, and currently the only functioning toilet is downstairs. Try going back to sleep after that.) THIS, my friends, should tell you how difficult it can be to get me out of bed in the morning.

Unless, apparently, it's Saturday and I have turned all the settings off. I've even tried setting the clock for the latest time it could possibly wake me up and still get me to work on time, so that I could wake up when I naturally do. But I don't wake up naturally when I do THAT, even. The damn clock still goes off. I don't get it. (And then I have to rush some too, and that leads to additional crankiness.) I'm not a particularly late sleeper either; left to my own devices, I'm up around 7:00, maybe 7:20 (or, if it's the week after school lets out in June, 8:30, but that's an anomaly and a well-deserved one at that).

So in the end, I guess I don't mind waking up at 6:30 if that's when I wake up without my clock. I just don't understand why I can't do it during the week.

I also don't understand why there is pizza delivery, but not doughnut delivery. Now THAT's an idea I could get behind, especially if I could place my order at 6:30 on a Saturday.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First Week of School...

...sapping will to live....

more this weekend after I sleep until noon...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Could It Be?





Yes, it could and it IS. Pardon me, I'm verklempt.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

By Popular Demand





Really, I haven't been making it up. I do live in a house, and here's some shots. I'm going to steal a friend's idea (possibly today, because it seems like it's going to be lovely day*) and take some photos of the neighborhood, too. Top to bottom: windows in my yarn room (where the birdie curtains from yesterday's post now hang), the dining room, corner of my front porch (which is HEEEyoooge, a great bonus to my 48'x54' lot), and Herself. It really is the perfect house for me.


*I know that doesn't sound very optimistic, but I live in the southern tier of New York. Just because it's nice now doesn't mean it'll last.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Better.

Thank you to everyone who sent me kind and supportive thoughts. That's really what helps me get through days like I described last post. There are mornings where I wake up and I'm like a dog with a bone...I CAN NOT stop chewing over the same issues, over and over, until I've worked myself into a proper lather. Only then does the anxiety let go and my sense of perspective returns.

(OK, that, and a phone call to Fred asking if I should plan to shower at Mom's when school starts, or will I at least be able to use the tub, if not the shower? He assured me that the tub would be functioning...which means I start in on the tile guys next. :-)

The wisdom tooth continues to be sort of random; some days I need very little chemical support, and other days I have to beat it into submission. Tylenol-3 is wonderful stuff, but codeine makes me very giddy, so I try to avoid it until evening. Not today. Whoo hoo!!!!

After sitting and pouting about things not feeling very homey, I did get off my duff and hang some pictures. What a difference. Of course, I promptly ran out of picture hangers, but that's easy enough to fix. I had this little fantasy that I would get walls painted before I hung pictures. Well, that's obviously not happening (and I really think that bathroom mess notwithstanding, not much painting would have happened this summer because of the outrageous humidity), so there's no point in waiting, especially when it makes such a difference in my feelings towards my new home. I have a mirror to hang in my bedroom next.

Speaking of making things homey: the curtains, so far.






From top to bottom, it's my yarn room, the living room, the laundry room, and my bedroom. Hopefully as I progress around the house, my photography skills will improve.

And as a teaser, just WAIT until I show you pictures of the woodwork in progress.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One of those mornings.

Warning: there's a fair amount of whine in this post. You may want to move along.

While I don't expect instant healing from this wisdom tooth extraction, waking up in a certain level of pain for the last three days is not what I had in mind, either. I almost wish I could wake myself up at about 2:00 AM and take another pain killer so that first thing in the morning isn't so bad. Twelve hours in between doses is just enough to make me rather unhappy when I get up, and then it takes an hour for the first dose of the day to kick in. After that, I'm fine. It's hard to start a day like this, though.

I should be grateful that I'm in my very own house, with a fine and sturdy roof over my head. But mostly I'm pissed that my whole summer has been interrupted by the bathroom debacle. Nothing about this experience is what I had hoped it would be. First I had to go through an absolute nightmare of a mortgage process, which threw my entire spring into chaos. (And if you think I'm exaggerating, try to imagine living out of a suitcase, a carry-on, and a laundry basket for the last two-read BUSIEST-months of school, not having any idea of when, or if, it would conclude.) Getting in here was supposed to be a relief. The very first night I lived here, the bathroom decided to make its appearance through the ceiling, and there went that plan. My house doesn't feel like mine yet. Three rooms are in total disorder. I've had someone else in here banging around almost every day that I've lived here (and you know how delighted I am with my plumbers...but still...). The money I had hoped to use for some little things around here (changing out the cheapass light fixtures and such), plus a considerable amount more, has gone to replace something that was supposed to be done already. It's been very difficult not to think I've been sold a bill of goods.

But the worst part is still not feeling settled. Five months of being on some sort of edge or holding pattern. This was the summer I was finally going to be able to expand, and let out the breath I've been holding for way too long, and move forward. Instead, I seem to be marking time some more.

I go back to work next week, essentially. I only have to be there for one day, but that's never enough time to prepare, so of course it means more than one day. My room at school will be more organized and tidy than my own home, and that just adds to the resentment. I wanted home to be as squared away as possible. It didn't have to be all painted the way I wanted, or landscaped, or anything like that. I wanted everything unpacked that needed to be unpacked, everything working. But no. It looks like I'll still be showering at Mom's in the morning before I go to work, adding a layer of inconvenience that I just don't need. I'll be working evenings and weekends getting things concluded that should have been finished this summer. I can't seem to fall into a routine that works, and routine, for better or for worse, is comforting. I could use some of that. I've had enough of seeing where the day will take me, because lately, it has only taken me further down an unknown path.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Whooooo....

If today's post rambles, I apologize in advance...I had a wisdom tooth extracted on Monday, and while I am feeling better, the Tylenol-3 makes me loopy. There's not an awful lot going on anyway.

Bathroom: I think have both hot and cold water supply up there now. This is good. They aren't hooked up to anything yet, but that would seem to be in the near future. (I hope!) Actually, Joe just said the subfloor goes down next, so that must be a good thing.

Rest of the house: I spent a good part of last week sewing, which while being fibery in a way, is not my favorite activity. It's one of those things I've learned to do quickly yet carefully. Also, having good equipment is a must. I find, like in many other areas of life, that I just can't get what I want (quality and variety-wise) for the price I want, unless I make it myself. I did four valences, two sets of cafe curtains, and five panels of sheers. I'm very pleased with the results. Still have five windows to go, but I can't do two of them until the construction is done.

Domestic: thirteen pints of pickles canned. I haven't had the space to do anything like that for two years, and being able to do it again is truly a joy. Had things settled down here earlier, I probably would have canned some peaches. They're very good this year, and home-canned peaches beat anything in the store, any day. I have a freezer full of raspberries from Dad to be processed into jam, too, as well as a lot of blackberries. I'm going to try making blackberry cordial with some of them, and probably jam with the rest.

Knitting, etc: yes, I still do. I made a little list the other night as the painkilers fought for control, which I found to be surprisingly coherent in the morning. I frogged the Uhura tank top...good pattern, I just couldn't get into it, and am using the same yarn to make Katie Himmelberg's Frock Camisole from the Spring '08 IK. It's in the round and moving along nicely. It's one of those projects where, once you get through 14" of stockinette, you're practically done. I also cast on for a hooded baby cardigan, one of my go-to baby gifts. It's a Schaefer Yarns pattern (a hooded top-down raglan jacket) in Nancy, a bulky thick and thin yarn. If I really park my butt, I can finish it in one day if needed, and it's always a hit.

The other things on the list vary from a pair of Broadripple socks, to a sock money from BMFA, to a cardigan, to the Hemlock Ring blanket. Many of the unfinished pieces were packed up for a while, so I don't feel too guilty. But I still want them to be finished. I've wanted to do Lucy Neatby's "Cables After Whisky" sweater for some time now, but just can't cast on for it with all these other things hanging around. I need to bargain with myself a little bit, so when I finish the tank and the baby jacket, I can swatch for it (and see if my modification will work like I think it will). Then, when I've finished the sock monkey, I can do a schematic for it...and so on. I don't mind having multiple projects going, but this is getting a little out-of-hand.

OK, time to stop fighting the codeine and rest my eyes for a little bit.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Safety restored.

First, to answer a question from Marcy, I've been washing up in the kitchen sink. I've never been so happy to have a sprayer before. Every couple of days (when I needs to shave me legs) I grab my basket and head over the river to Mom's for a real shower. The novelty has worn off, believe me. At least I have a half-bath in the downstairs that only had a small leak in the sink supply lines (which have been fixed), so I didn't need to call Ed's Heads for a rental.

Now, onto today's update. The floor joists have been beautifully shored up by Joe, Jeff, and Rich. They should be back before long to put down the subfloor. They had to stop when they found that Bozo the Seller had made an electrical connection for the wall fixture above the medicine chest and buried it in THE FLOOR. Without a junction box around it. And he did it by cutting into the cloth-covered original wiring (you know, knob-and-tube) and connecting it with wire nuts. So not only is that really rather dangerous, it's illegal to bury a connection like that. (I have pictures.) He also managed, after installing this wiring, to nail through it not once, not twice, but THREE times with the same damn spikes he used to nail through the drain. (I have pictures of that, too.) Miraculously, he hit the ground wire each time. If he hadn't, and if we hadn't decided to really turn this into a renovation, between the poor connection and the nailed-through wiring, there was quite possibly a fire in my near future. And given that my ol' house has lath and plaster walls with lovely old cellulose insulation blown in, it really could have been interesting.

Why yes, since you ask, I do believe that a major balancing event is due in this guy's life. He's already being sued by the realtors because he won't pay the commission, and we seem to be building a case against him as well. Right now, if the only satisfaction I can get out of it is that Code Enforcement hammers his ass with fines, that'll do. Anything beyond that would be acceptable also.

Anyway. Fred the Amazing Electrician came by after lunch and set to work improving Bozo's handiwork. I now have three different Freds working on my house at various times: Fred the Amazing Plumber, Fred the Amazing Gas Installer, and Fred the Amazing Electrician. I mean those "amazings" in complete honesty, too. They're doing the work that needs to be done, doing it well, and doing it for a very reasonable price. The guys that I mentioned above are also wonderful. I'm lucky to have them here.

OK, I wish I didn't have to have them here, it's true...but since I do, these are the guys I want.

Friday, August 14, 2009

*cringe*

Things you don't want to hear during a home improvement project:

(nail gun firing) "Oops!"
(broken glass tinkling) "Shit!"

or in the case of my bathroom today,
"This floor isn't safe."

Honestly, I think we're at the point where nothing else can go wrong in this bathroom, because there's nothing LEFT in this bathroom. I'm serious. Half of the subfloor was made up of about 15 scraps of plywood cobbled together, over another layer of sheet vinyl, over what remained of the original hardwood floor, which has been cut into a seemingly random assortment of leftovers. (I'd like to slap the person who did that in the first place, even if it isn't Bozo the Seller.)

Now, that in and of itself isn't necessarily unsafe, just shoddy. (And annoying to people like me who prefer things to be done neatly and correctly.) It's the floor joists. Over the past 100 years or so, they've been cut into to accommodate way too many permutations of plumbing. The guys will need to sister in 2x8s to secure their integrity before we can proceed with much more. Most humorous is the joist where Bozo hacked into it to install the drain...

..the one he nailed into, and caused this mess in the first place. Someone cue "Circle of Life," please.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wonders never cease around here.

Fred the Amazing Plumber has let me know that I should expect the crew between 8:00 and 8:30 tomorrow morning, no later than 9:00. I hope this means there's gonna be a whole lotta plumbin' going on. They discovered the other day that Bozo the Seller's (or the guy he hired; I prefer the former) incompetence knows no end, although now it's getting downright silly. They're figuring out how to put the drain pipe back in, in a way that actually makes sense and is, how do you say...? FUNCTIONAL? Yeah, I think that's it. So the plan was to peel up the vinyl sheet, hold onto it, do what needed to be done, and stick it back down when everything was finished.

It was never stuck down in the first place. No adhesive. Gravity and inertia alone were keeping it in place. If it had legs, it could have gotten up and run away. And who could blame it? So it really makes their job easier-one less thing to wrestle with. The sheet was also cut out to fit around the World's Ugliest Vanity, which I'm replacing with a pedestal sink. Case closed.

And really, it works out well in another way too. One of these days, when I have nothing else to do (or my sister/brother-in-law/kids are here), I'll move stuff out of the mudroom, tear up the CARPET he installed in there (yeah, I said carpet), and cut the vinyl to fit in there instead. Though I wouldn't be at all surprised to find totally different (and perfectly acceptable) vinyl under said carpet at this stage of the game.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Progress!

I have a stove!!! I have a dryer!!! Words can not describe how wonderful this is.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

No great shakes

There isn't much to report right now, but I don't want to get out of the semi-habit I've established here. I use the term "established" very lightly! Nothing else has broken or started dripping unexpectedly. The really old pipes and Bozo the Seller's attempts at plumbing have been removed in preparation for the new stuff. When all is said and done, pretty much any plumbing he did will be gone, replaced with plumbing that actually works. He's proven to be about as good a plumber as I would be, which leads me to say...

Know your limits, people. That's all I ask.

Friday, July 31, 2009

OK, maybe too much slowing...

But only because I don't have a bathroom yet. It's coming.

Short post, because for once I'm tired and not because of nervous exhaustion or anxiety-induced freezing. It was caused by actual sustained physical activity. Now there's a concept! A lot of what I want to do around here has been put sort of on hold while the bathroom got sorted out, and because of the stunning amount of rain we've had. I'd be willing to bet we haven't had three days in a row without some sort of precipitation since the beginning of the month. I don't think painting is a great idea in a steady downpour (even though I'm painting inside, of course). I have visions of the fresh paint simply peeling off the old paint, just like pudding skin. (Which I love, by the way.) Perhaps if it were a little warmer whilst being rainy, I might be willing to take the chance. But upper 70's at the beginning of August doesn't count. If I were a farmer, I'd be having a heart attack pretty much every day.

So back to the sustained activity...it poured steadily all day, until about 4:00. Then the sun made an appearance, and combined with the humidity...YUCK. It wasn't all that hot, but SO muggy. As the sun went down, it wasn't so bad, and I think everyone who had some yard work (other than mowing, that would be an exercise in foolishness) leapt into action. It's supposed to be sunny tomorrow, but rain again Sunday, so we must make hay while the sun shines. I took the opportunity to pull the weeds I had dosed with Spectracide the other day, and boy did it kill stuff deader than a beaver hat. Said stuff was growing up through the gravel that is my back walkway into the mudroom, and where I park. Before long I had the rake out, and realized that whoever dumped this gravel...well, that's what they did. Dump it, and barely spread it around. Wherever it fell, that was good enough. (I can only hazard a guess whose work this was. *ahem*) So I raked the gravel off of what turned out to be a concrete slab under the steps into the mudroom, and away from the base of the WOODEN steps. Then I had to start working on the parking spot, again, just planning to rake out the dead stuff.

That's when I realized that the basement window wells should perhaps not be full of gravel. And that the gravel also should perhaps not be right up against the house to the point that it's under the siding. And that the gravel would really do well to be under my car before I chew up that muddy, muddy spot. So I hauled out the work gloves and BY HAND scooped the gravel out of the wells. Between the two of those, and raking away from the foundation a fair bit, I had enough to cover about half of the parking area. (It's roughly two cars long, and one car wide. I live on an alley, remember?) There was garbage and broken glass in them as well, always a treat. Now, if it turns out there should be more than the shallow layer of gravel I left in there, I will happily march over to the Home Despot and buy me some bags o' marble chips or something. But it would take a lot of arguing to convince me to fill them to the brim again. I've left a couple inches of the galvanized metal whatever-it-is-around exposed, to encourage the rainwater to go around instead of over (and presumably, IN). The windows have plywood in them now. I wonder if plexiglass would be a good replacement? (That would probably lead to replacing the window casings down there too...maybe I'll leave that alone for a little while...)

So I raked for two hours, met two more neighbors, and realized that it's VERY gratifying to have people tell you how welcome you are to the neighborhood, and how nice it is to have a nice person living in the house again. It had been abandoned for a couple of years prior, and while I categorize my house as medium-large but modest, the neighborhood is quite...well, not-modest, for the most part. (Especially the street above me.) Let's just say that "abandoned" is not generally the architectural style preferred around here. It's much more welcoming than any neighborhood I've lived in before, and I think I'm going to like it.

Hmmm...so much for a short post, eh?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Slowing of The Entropy

(I hope)

Nothing is leaking today. Of course, that would be because I have nothing in my bathroom...no sink, no toilet, no tub. The leaky lines have been capped off. I've ordered a new cast-iron tub (to replace the Styrofoam one) and a pedestal sink (to replace the dreadful vanity and mismatched sink); the toilet is going back in. I'm not sure if the tile guy came over today, as I had lessons in the afternoon, but I'll hear from Fred My Awesome Plumber tomorrow. Unless it turns out to be stoopid expensive, I want subway tile to surround the tub (as opposed to the plastic? fiberglas? POS? that was there). Picked out the faucets (vintage-y look). Found a medicine cabinet (nice plain oval). Plan to paint the wainscot white and the walls a very pale pink. Odds are good that I'll slap down another piece of vinyl, too. If I've got to be inconvenienced by this situation, at least I'm going to end up with a bathroom that I'll never have to worry about again...and will look like it belongs to house built in the 1920's instead of a bad double-wide reno.

I finished the amigurumi pear, though I don't know if it's really amigurumi until it has a face. I think I'll finish the apple tonight, and then I think I need to make a monkey. Actually, I should finish the sock monkey first. I've been working on the Uhura tank top by Connie Chang Chinchio (summer Twist Collective), and it's going fine...except it's not been tank top weather around here. It's a very dreary July, and much cooler than usual. Plenty of rain and temperatures barely breaking 80 on a good day. Very strange. But a good tank looks just as good with a t-shirt under it for extended seasonal wear, so continue I will.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Entropy, part C

No pictures this time, because I think you know what open walls of lath and plaster look like. Half of another wall came down yesterday to give us access to the leaking hot water intake. When Mr. Seller installed the plumbing (because no self-respecting licensed plumber would have left work like this), he did a very poor job connecting the new fittings to the existing ones. Therefore, that hot water pipe has been steadily dripping right through the wall into the basement (which is wet enough as it is). Luckily, it hasn't been dripping for too, too long, and there's no damage to the wall.

Since the walls are open, and easily accessible, it seems like this is the time to do a renovation. The tub is also as cheap as they come...the old plastic kind with the foamy stuff on the underside. Well, the foam is breaking down, and as it does that, the tub loses support, which means on some future unknowable day, it will fall apart from the weight of the water and whoever's washing up at the time. So out is goes. The sink, as I mentioned before, is departing as well. In doing all of this, I probably should just put down a new sheet of vinyl flooring too, as it may very well be cut to fit around the ugly vanity. I won't know until the vanity comes out. I really did intend to do all of this, just not in the first week of living here.

The other stuff is getting unpacked, slowly but surely. Having stacks of stuff piled all over raises my anxiety level to "uncomfortable" and while I could really use a little extra rest, I'm driven to put stuff in some semblance of order. Sleep is over-rated, right?

In fibery news, last week I began teaching a beginning crochet class down at our local shop. I learned how to crochet when I was seven or eight, but teaching it really is another matter. It seems to be going well, and there's only three women. Two came last night, and I really enjoyed the company. I don't often enter into social knitting groups (see above, "anxiety"), but this may encourage me to try again. I'm usually fine once I get there, but it's hard to get me out of the house. I bet if I asked my friend Wanda to come pick me up, she would do it, even though she lives on the northside and would have to pass right by the store to get me. It's kind of silly, but I'm much more likely to go in a case like that, because I feel an obligation to the person who's going out of their way for me. And like I said, I know I'd enjoy it, and I know Wanda is a lovely compassionate person who would understand.

OK. My 10:30 lesson cancelled (and paid ahead, so I don't lose any money on this one), so I'm going to finish the pear I'm crocheting. I have found my camera cable (the pictures in the last post were from my cell phone), so there should be more to look at soon.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Entropy, part deux





For those of you who wanted pictures. :-)

The picture at the top is the drain pipe from the upstairs bath, which is split nearly in half by a nail used to put down the subfloor. This puppy has been leaking since the bathroom was finished MONTHS ago. Basically, the blown-in insulation had been soaking it up until it reached maximum capacity yesterday. My niece's shower took it over the edge. We had heard in the mortgage process that the seller was having issues with a very large water bill. Apparently, it never occurred to him to check for leaks; it made more sense to him to just get pissy with the city.

I'm not thrilled that this has happened, of course, and there is still a drip going on in the basement. But that's tomorrow's problem, and I know Fred My Plumber will get the drip fixed too. He and his guys are amazing.

Silver lining: the sink in that bathroom is about as ugly and crappy and cheap as it could be (I'm pretty sure the seller ran out of money right about there, or picked up some POS off the curb and slapped it in there). Since the ceiling is already opened up and the pipes accessible, this is a good time to replace it. I'll catch the ugly tub later...after I recover from this!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Entropy

Nature tends from order to disorder in isolated systems.

I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm isolated, but the level of disorder is certainly on the rise here. I have moved; the only things not here yet are my bike and its gear, and my instruments. They're safer where they are for a little while more, partly because of the chaos and daily rearranging, and partly because it's very damp here. The horn would be OK; the dulcimers and the guitar would not be so happy.

In the grand scheme of things, it's been a great move. I have amazing, generous, very hard-working friends who have leapt to my assistance several times during this saga, and this past weekend was no exception. My niece was here yesterday and got her workout in for the day, schlepping boxes up and down the stairs as we did the Fed Ex thing. You may remember that I had to bug out of my last apartment on rather short notice, so my usual organized packing and marking of boxes kind of went to hell. There was a fair amount of "put it in the office" yesterday, so she and I pretty much got things at least into the rooms where they belonged.

The first wave of the kitchen has been unpacked. I have A LOT of kitchen stuff. My new kitchen has some decent workspace, but not an awful lot of cabinet space. I have a mudroom, though, and as in my last house-based kitchen, that's where most of the not-oft-used things will go. That'll involve the purchase another set of those Swedish pine shelves that I love (from Williams-Sonoma), because the current set usually holds the yarn stash. (THAT room is a mighty disaster. Never fear, I still have several projects easily available.) I have all of my appliances, though currently only the fridge and washing machine are functional. Another wonderful friend will be pulling the gas lines from the basement to my stove and dryer next week. (I've been without a stove for two months...seven more days will be a breeze.) The dishwasher gets hooked up tomorrow by the wonderful carpenter I have set to speed-dial. He also replaced the nasty awful cheap storm door last night. I've painted the front and back doors red. (I had to do something Friday while waiting for the various installation people to arrive.)

My bedroom is in pretty fine disarray as well. I may try to tame it a little this evening...I may not. The bed is set up with my lovely soft sheets, so really...I can live out the suitcases for another night. We'll see.

There is a need for another bookcase or two; my last apartment had a wall partially dedicated to built-in shelving that made my library look deceptively small. (And I've culled the collection quite a bit since leaving my house two years ago.) There's plenty of painting to do, as I choose colors. I hung all but three roller blinds on the windows today too. I managed to score them at JCPenney for 50% off way back in...umm...March, I think it was. Somehow I'm short three sets of hardware, but that made for a good stopping point.

In amongst all of this wonderfulness is a problem, though if this is the extent of my woes, I'm a damn lucky gal. I may have mentioned that the seller of my house...well, he either is a cheapskate, or he got fleeced by the folks who worked for him. I am grateful beyond words to have new siding, new windows, a new water heater, and a new furnace. The kitchen cabinets are new; not great quality, but certainly fine. New carpet and laminate. There's PLENTY that is good around here. However...the things that need to be fixed are pretty important and I'm surprised at how shoddily they were done in the first place.

I live on a hill, which may lead you to believe makes me pretty safe from water problems. But water runs downhill, and we also have a lot of small natural springs running not far underground. Therefore, in many neighborhoods, wet basements are a given and mine is no exception. I probably will never store anything there; the furnace and hot water tank are up on blocks and my laundry is on the first floor. Like everyone else, I have a sump hole in the front corner. I think someone's Uncle Bubba installed it. It works, mostly, but it is The Weirdest set-up ever. As a matter of fact, that it works at all is pretty impressive. The basement floor is trenched to allow the water to run to the pump, yet there's a lip of the floor just before the hole...effectively creating a little dam so the water has to get kind of deep (relatively speaking...you can't go fishing in there) before it can run off. Luckily, a fairly easy fix. I also need a dehumidifier that actually works instead of merely sounding like it does.

Here's the part where I nearly had a heart attack last night, though. The house passed inspection easily, but has been empty for a long time. The seller never lived here, which is why I think no one caught what I'm about to describe.

After a day of folks trooping in and out and you know, USING the bathroom upstairs, my niece got ready for bed and took her turn. I happened to walk into the "office," which is below that bath, and noticed a distinct dripping sound...coming from the ceiling. I knew there was a little leak somewhere, as Fred My Plumber and I noticed it in the basement. This new development, however, was more than "little." So we shut off the valve, used the powder room loo instead, and the dripping stopped. This morning, in the name of science, she took a shower. Same damn thing. Someone did a very poor job with the drain lines up there, and I'm pretty sure the way to fix it is to go through the ceiling. (Which is stained now anyway, so no loss.) I'll be showering at Mom's for a couple days.

I'm glad we caught it early; since there's been so little use, I'm hoping the damage is contained. Also, now I know that this won't be a problem any more. I know that it'll be fixed properly. I'd rather spend the money on light fixtures that aren't the cheapest ones at Home Despot, of course, but even I know how important this is, and I want it done well.

There's a couple of other not-cosmetic things to do; being an old house, there's not enough electrical outlets where you'd actually want them. The gutters need cleaning. (Easy.) The yard, such as it is, is mostly weeds. Maybe that's cosmetic...we'll see what my other friend the landscaper says. I can live with that for a summer.

This may be my longest post ever, but I think it has the least amount of whining in a loooooooong time. Stay tuned...it's only going to get better from here.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The ordeal is over...

I closed this morning!

The relief I feel is tangible, as it seems to be manifesting in a headache. (Figures, but I can take it. I'll have a little lie-down after I post this.) The seller is still being something of a...um...ninny, but all will be well. The house is mine. I've already bought the red paint for the front door. The appliances come tomorrow, as does the cable hook-up and such. My goal is to be sleeping there Saturday night.

I think the reality will hit me when I paint that door. I still sort of think that my lawyer's office will call and say, "Oops, we forgot to sign one more paper..." But I'll get over that too.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Small change coming

So far, the closing date is holding fast. I have permission to have my appliances delivered on Wednesday, but am under strict orders NOT to hook them up or have any utilities put into my name until after the closing. I teach for a good chunk of Wednesday (with a couple of hour-long breaks), and scheduling any kind of delivery is challenging in any situation. I may reconsider and have them delivered on Friday when I can be there all day. I'm going to call the troops tomorrow and see who's available to help me move (again); I think I might call the U-Haul people too, so we can do this in as few trips as possible. I'm moving the equivalent of a one-bedroom apartment, with relatively little furniture (quantity-wise, not size-wise). I also have stuff in a couple of other places, but it'll all get there.

While that may seem like enough of a change, I'm planning on a change name for Le Bog as well. My new address will be on Pearl Street. I, of course, feel it should be spelled Purl Street. But here on the hill, we also have alleys between the numbered streets (First, Second, Third, etc.) that run east and west up the hill. The north/south streets are named after trees, and then apparently whatever the city planners felt like naming then. The alleys have forever been "the alley between First and Second," until 911 came to town. Now all of the alleys are named, and 99% of them are named after glass techniques or styles. There's Etruscan Lane and Diatreta Lane and so on.

My house is on the alley, which means my front door is on Purl Street, and the side of my house runs parallel to the alley. What's my alley called?

Intarsia Lane.

No kidding. I will live on the corner of Purl and Intarsia. It's a glass technique as well as a knitting technique, utilizing larger blocks of colors in the design.

So once the dust settles and I have the cable situation straightened out, the blog will quietly migrate to a new name: "From the Corner of Purl and Intarsia", and will hopefully contain a whole lot more fibery goodness than it has of late. I'll give you fair warning before it happens, dear readers, and I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Well, there's good news and there's...

Oh, wait! It's all good news!!!

I have a closing date. A real closing date, with the lawyers and the settlement people and the seller and EVERYthing. July 16th, 10:00, checkbook in hand. Hopefully the seller will agree to let me in before that, so I can get my appliances delivered and hooked up, but even if he doesn't, I can live with that...

I have a CLOSING DATE!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Addendum to the addendum

Though I still won't believe it until I'm sitting at the lawyer's table with the house keys in my hand, the most current stumbling block to closing has been waived. (Imagine that.) If this is indeed the case, I should get the OK to close early next week and close before the end of the week.

I can't wait to think (and talk) (and blog) about something else.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Addendum

Now with 100% more attempts at humor! Really, just when I think this situation is as ludicrous as it could possibly be, they totally raise the bar and throw me off guard. I should appreciate a company that strives to be the best at being the worst. Everyone should have goals.

So here's an open letter, and my evening's attempt at cleverness. Apologies in advance...

To the people handling my mortgage:
You suck. You suck with the force of a thousand black holes. You suck more than all the vacuums in the world. You suck more than every soda straw in the past, present and future of every fast-food establishment in the universe. You suck deeper than the mud of the rainiest rainforest in the Amazon. You suck with the intensity of all the quicksand in every bad jungle movie on film.

I don't think there's a thing I can do to counteract the suckiness other than to invite every friend I have in the world over to my house (when you finally allow me to move into it) and SUCK UP ALL THE BOOZE IN THE WORLD until we forget this ever happened.

Piss off.

Words fail me.

Not really. You know me better than that, right? But I don't have many, because I am beyond tired of this rollercoaster.

I did not close a week ago.

I am not closing this week.

I probably won't close next week.

Every time I get to the day before closing, something else strangely pops up, which then takes a week to schedule the fix and another week to file the paperwork.

The mortgage industry caused this mess, and the rules that they suddenly are insistent upon following are making it worse. Or should I say, the rules are fine. Great. Put those "fixes" in place, shut that gate now that the horse is out. But don't tell me for ONE LOUSY MINUTE that you didn't know these things were coming and couldn't do one last little thing to be prepared for them until the day before I'm supposed to close.

I thought I was at the end of my rope a few weeks ago. I think I'm down to the last few strands. And I can't wait to think about something other than this house...which was supposed to be an exciting event, especially as I'm doing this with MY money, on MY terms (I thought), to start this new chapter in MY life. I've been on hold for so long now; I hope I haven't lost momentum permanently.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Pop Quiz.

What emotional response would be elicited upon reading the following statement:

"We're aiming to wrap this up by July 2nd."

a) relief followed by excitement
b) frustration followed by resignation
c) murderous rage

Loyal readers will be able to predict my choice.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yeah, whatever.

if I ran my classroom like these baboons run their mortgage company, I would have been fired five years ago.

I don't mind that the mortgage was approved with conditions; things like that happen. It's just that each condition has been presented individually, strung out over the last three weeks, as close to the last minute as possible. At the same time, I get calls at work alerting me that Something Must Be Faxed! It Is Needed Now! The Sooner, The Better! Never mind that pesky full-time job with small children running around that prevents me from jumping through the hoop of the day immediately, just get it done.

The hot water issue has been clarified. Now it's the previous (bad) appraisal; don't ask me what bearing at all this has on the current mortgage, since I had to start everything all over again from scratch. Also don't ask me why this little detail, which shows up on the underwriter's decision paperwork as of May 20th, hasn't ever been approached before today, a full month plus five days past.

All I know for sure is that my divorce was smoother and more pleasant than this experience could ever hope to have been.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Even Becky Sounds Optimistic

The "clear to close" should come through Thursday (tomorrow) morning. If that's the case, I will close on Friday.

(keep breathing, keep breathing, keep breathing...)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cautious Optimism is Afoot.

There is a possibility that maybe I will close on Friday.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

*facepalm*

Here's the latest (and apparently, ONLY) thing holding up closing:

The seller turned the hot water heater off after my inspection in February. No big surprise; why pay to heat hot water in an empty house, right? So why do I bother mentioning it? I wouldn't...

except he didn't turn it back ON for the appraisal. The house is also unoccupied, and therefore, the appraiser dinged it as a problem, and the underwriters won't approve the mortgage until it is glaringly apparent that I do indeed, have a functioning water heater as part of the deal.

Alright, so all the seller needs to do is turn it back on, right? Right...

except the original appraiser has to come down from Rochester (two hours away) to give the official okey-dokey. And once that's done, all I can do is hope that the underwriters get on it quickly, though that word doesn't seem to be in their collective vocabulary.

Oh, and this question of the water heater came up about three and a half weeks ago. A silly mistake that will take all of five minutes to rectify will cause me to live out my suitcases and board my cat for an extra two weeks because they couldn't be bothered to mention it to us when they knew. Everything else that can approved ahead of time has been approved as of June 9th, if I read the underwriters' report correctly. So if this had been straightened out when it came up, I could have closed this week...not two weeks from now. Some folks will read this and say, what's the big deal about two weeks? Closings rarely happen on time. Please remember that I was originally supposed to close on April 3rd, so we're coming up on three extra MONTHS, not weeks.

I do have some hope, as Becky My Favorite Real Estate Assistant (and I'm not kidding at all, she has been amazing throughout this process) is even saying we should be able to close as soon as this is done. And Becky is pretty cynical about these guys right now too..she wouldn't say it if she didn't mean it.

I'd better go back and read my previous posts before my head explodes.