Friday, January 29, 2010

Burnt Out

I think I have reached the point of winter when all of my energy is gone after one hour of being awake in the morning.

This is why bears hibernate.

The world is cold, the roads are icy, it's dark when I leave in the morning and when I drive home from work at night. And it just saps all the happy I have keeping myself moving.

To top it all off, the project I'm knitting right now (or my reworked version of this project, has so much ribbing that it could be followed up by an ice-pick lobotomy and I wouldn't care. I might even be relieved.

Thirteen inches of 1x1 ribbing. Jen, that's like on the cuff of your socks. Knit one, purl one, knit one, purl one, question the meaning of your life, knit one...

It's going to take forever to do the front. This better darn look good when it's finished, that's all I have to say. Just because I don't want a cropped sweater showing off what an inactive lifestyle I have doesn't mean I want to find out the last two weeks have gone by with me knitting only to tear out my work at the end. That would push me over the edge, it really would.

So I am dragging myself to work, dragging myself to knit night (which will get harder after the close the chunk of 16 that both Rachael and I use to get to Coffee D'Vine--I'm serious Rachael, from the spot where you dropped your glove to County Road 300-something will be closed indefinitely), dragging myself home from knit night, back to work, back home, to Walmart, to the bank, to the post office, trudging through snow as Darcy bounds around me, urging me to be happy and to play Stick-And-Frisbee or Double-Friz or Rock, although since the rock in question is now in the river, the latter would be a short game to say the least.

Life has lost its shiny glory, and I'll be waiting until summer for it to come back. Annually, I wait for the 80+ degree weather to recharge my Laura batteries and make me peppy again.

Meanwhile, I must try to not be a downer, something I have already failed in doing for this post. Sorry, folks.

But I decided to make life happier. Forcibly.

I am going to do the Knitting Olympics--or the Ravelympics as they are called this year. And I am going to conquer something. I am going to defeat the green Patons Grace.

The Story of the Paton's Grace

One spring morning, Julie (Mom) was skipping happily past the knit store--wait a second--past?

One spring morning, Julie ran into the yarn store as fast as her twisted-sock-feet could carry her, then paused. She saw some lovely cotton yarns, all spring colors and all coordinating so well! She had to have it. But what would she make with it?

Fortunately, Kathy showed Princess Julie some glorious pattern booklets filled with the finest patterns in the land, and soon Empress Supreme Julie was knitting away. Then she discovered that she didn't purchase enough yarn, so she sent out her minions to secure her more.

Then Her Amazing Glorious Julie Divine decided to throw the top and the yarn it came from into a basket and knit something else, because she had just that moment discovered her Hatred for Cotton.

Time passed, Laura began to wonder if her mother would ever finish the tank top, intended for Laura, which was why she cared so much.

More time passed, and The Shining Sparkling One gave Laura, the Pond Scum of Humanity, the green yarn to match her algae-self, and Laura croaked her thanks before hopping back to her swamp to catch flies.

One of those flies was metaphorical, and it was the pattern for the Beaded Cami, which was the last of several attempts at knitting the green Paton's Grace. It failed. Probably because Laura's self-measurements were exact, causing the Beadless-Beaded Cami to come out like a sausage casing, destined for Laura's Sausage-Self to be packed into. Shamed, she crawled under her lily-pad and frogged the whole thing, rewound the yarn into balls, and decided to forget it was there.

Another year passed.

And a little more time.

And then it was now.

And in case you didn't know, Laura is me.

And I have decided to not start any more sentences with "and" for a while. Or with "one"...

I am going to compete against the Paton's Grace and Cotton in general at the 2010 Knitting Olympics, now called the Ravelympics because we're all using Ravelry now instead of various blogs.

My pattern? Uhura found in the Summer 2009 issue of Twist Collective, an online knitting magazine.

I am determined. I will use that Patons, and if when I am done the finished product is as ugly as the sky is blue, I will send it packing, go online, order the exact yarn the sample is knit from on Twist Collective, and knit the whole thing again. It will turn out the happy raspberry color it is in the magazine, and I will have got rid of that Patons once and for all.

This is the time when I have to break and tell you all that there is absolutely nothing wrong with Patons Grace.

This particular batch of Patons Grace, however, is cursed by heavenly forces beyond our mortal control. The failures of projects made with this yarn are legendary.

Like, for example, the original intended project. Mom bought enough skeins for the boat-necked tank she was making me, then she bought two more. But when she got to about my waist, no matter how many hours of uninterrupted knitting she put in, the sweater didn't get any longer. Even when she left it and came back hours later to measure again. Even when she switched measuring tapes.

Me? I checked my gauge four times and had my mother measure me after I had measured myself twice. So unless the pattern for a 36" sweater was actually the pattern for a 30" sweater, something went terribly, inexplicably wrong on my end.

That yarn...is cursed.

But I will break that curse this winter. It will be how I defeat the Winter Blahs. Me and that yarn is going places.

Yes, I know how terrible the grammar in that last sentence is, I'm going for a whole movie thing. Try saying it out loud in kind of a mafia way.

See?

I hope this will beat back my desire to curl up in the fetal position and wait for summer to awaken me. Spring, you see, isn't good enough. If not, it will at least give me something to do when I'm avoiding watching the Olympics...

*Note added at 3:12 p.m.--I just had to go through every post that I've made on this blog and the one I write for the library to fight the evil Spam monster and its progeny. How many ads for naked Miley Cyrus and Cialis do we need? And do the people who want to see Miley also need the Cialis, or to put it in a slightly different way, if we denied these people drugs to combat their dysfunctions, would they still seek out pictures of under aged girls nude?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Human Idiocy in Government and Media, Or Why I Now Lack Faith in Humanity

This is a rant, so get ready. It's also political, and just so you know, if you argue against me, which is totally okay, you still will not convince me to shrug off my belief in helping my fellow man, hang the expense. You have been duly warned.

Do you ever just read something and get so ticked that you just have to tell someone else about it before you start ranting at the first random stranger who crosses your path?

Here's a little something from Yahoo News today regarding the comments of one Andre Bauer, who is one of those Republicans that make us flamin' liberals wonder if the other side has lost complete touch with reality. I know that isn't true, but this man has certainly lost contact with the world at large; he clearly only sees money:

At a town hall meeting Thursday, Bauer, who is running for governor in his own right now that Sanford is term-limited, said: "My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed! You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that."

I cannot begin to explain how wrong he is, and I don't want to start going off about how evil this is.

Do you guys know Jonathan Swift? Dead guy, 1667-1745, wrote Gulliver's Travels? Well, take a peek.

Are you done? Did you check out that portrait? Hilarious, right? That hair? I'm betting fake, but still!

Okay, so satirist, right? Wrote a lot about stupid arguments that other people have, so he could laugh at them, which is the most fun kind of political writing ever. Or the most depressing. Either way, he wrote a little essay called A Modest Proposal: For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick which pretty much stated that the Irish, being as a number of them were in pretty bad shape financially and in want of food, should just roast up their kids and eat them, since they had so many.

Needless to say, not serious.

Except he really did need to say that, because the number of people who took him seriously and were completely appalled was staggering.

He was making fun of all the people who railed against helping the poor. While advising on how to prepare children before eating them, and recommending eating them early while they were still plenty tender.

Go read it, really. Project Gutenberg, right here.

Amazing example of sustained irony in writing. Really, this guy was good. His idea? Evil. But he knew it. That's why we can still read this essay and get a laugh out of it. Because he's totally joking about the whole thing.

Unfortunately, the Idiot--sorry the Lt. Governor of South Carolina is not joking. He's being plenty serious.

That's tragic.

It shocks me that anyone can be left in the world and be clueless about poverty. You might not be poor, you might not know anyone who is or has been poor, but with television and the internet, I would think you'd have to figure it all out eventually.

Being poor is not something people do for fun, nor by choice.

Now, you're going to argue with me about drug use and alcohol, but that's not what I'm talking about. Plenty of rich people live dependant on drugs and alcohol and don't lose their lives of luxury. Supermodels, for example. Nothing keeps you skinny like coke... But even if I were talking drug abuse, the people who struggle with addiction have children too, and those kids are left with nothing.

In today's economic climate, that's not always the case. People are being fired left and right. Families with nice cars and fantastic houses end up with nothing but debt, and it would be immoral to expect them to magically conjure up an equal income to the one they had before. When I was in school, they told us that accountants were guaranteed work, no matter what--that if you got an accounting degree you could get a job instantly and anywhere with a salary as high as you could hope for in your first year of employment. But now accountants are being shown the door--not to mention all the teachers, factory workers, and lately even Walmart associates that are out of work.

We cannot blame the poor for the mistakes of the upper 1%, the hundred-odd people whose money determines policy for investment and the actions of corporations they lead and the political figures their donations support.

If you're reading this and getting angry at Laura the Stupid Clueless Liberal, good for you! You must have come from a family with some money, enough that you were comfortable and don't remember weeks with pancakes every night because that was so much cheaper than buying meat.

You don't remember your parents being happy that your family had even that, or the times you walked through the grocery store while your mother used a calculator to figure out what she could afford that week. Or the Christmases when your parents would take you aside and tell you this year wouldn't be as nice as other years, but that they loved you and that was what was important.

I wouldn't wish that on people, though I can see how understanding what it's like to struggle to make ends meet can make you a better human being.

So if you never went through that, I'm glad. I only ask that you consider that not everyone is that lucky. Which Lt. Governor Bauer certainly doesn't understand.

Is it wrong of me to want people who serve the public to understand the public? I don't think so. Somebody in South Carolina ought to boo that guy off the stage, because really! That is the kind of messed up idea that leads to only badness. The next thing he's going to say is that Haiti deserved their troubles because of devil worship or something. Keith Olbermann has something to say about that. Maybe he should get one of these. I know I want one...

Friday, January 22, 2010

There must be a circle of Hell for this...

Maybe this is an individual peculiarity of mine, but when I am doing a menial task or suffering in some way, I often consider what circle of Hell (Dante's Inferno) that my labors might be included in.

Today, I found myself spending over an hour tearing the first page from every magazine we have at the library from 2007, then loading boxes with the bulk of the magazines while reserving the barcodes on the torn out pages.

We were doing this because our server had actually honest-to-goodness exploded with a sound resembling the shot of a 22 rifle, according to Computer Man, who was here when the shot went off. The shot appeared to be some kind of computer-y fan/cooling unit, because I observed it lying on the counter this morning when I came to work.

I came to work through roads slicked with ice, too.

But before that, I decided I ought to have additional time to drive, so I used by hair dryer and pulled back my hair, then heated up my hair straightener to control the resulting pony-tail. I grasped the pony-tail firmly and clamped the straightener over my hair.

Except I didn't really clamp it over my hair. In fact, I clamped it over my thumb.

Did I mention I had it on its highest setting?

Now I fully understand what Dobby said in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, when he alluded to having to iron his fingers. Poor Dobby.

My thumb thus seared (medium-rare), I discovered myself to be in blinding pain. I rushed to the kitchen and grabbed the Magic Anesthetic Spray, which I used to dull my growing agony, then covered the area with a non-latex band-aid to ensure that my poor exposed neurons would have some relief. Don't tell me I'm not supposed to do that. I don't care. Try feeling my pain while handling books handled by dozens of other people and all of their filth and disease (even if that is only potential) and then you'll understand my need to cover my destroyed flesh. Poor Extra-Crispy Thumb.

And since our server was down, we had no circulation computers, no internet of any sort, no ability to look up the mystery books our patrons come asking about ("that one by that guy with the girl on the cover?" which turned out to be a James Patterson novel, the bikini one. It's a talent, figuring these things out).

We were, in other words, completely unable to offer any services to the public. And we'd all driving on icy roads to get there, just to do nothing worthwhile.

So we were ripping barcodes out of magazines, because we couldn't withdraw them one by one and we wanted to get rid of them once and for all, because the art department at the city school really wanted them (or so we thought).

While we (all five of us) were employed at tearing out pages, an additional person was pulling them down from shelves and slamming them onto cart after cart, which we took and replaced continuously.

In the process of doing this the following happened: My burn, having fully appeared on the surface of my skin, had revealed itself as having been larger than the bandage employed in covering it. This being the case, part of the burn was exposed (rather painfully) and it responded with sharp jabs of pain with each page I turned in each magazine.

Once I had become accustomed to the actions and their painful consequences, I turned yet another page, and gave myself a paper cut on my horrible burn!

Eyes tearing, I clenched my teeth together and gasped, "Thumb!"

My companions looked up at me, noted the pain I was in, and advised me, "Be careful with that burn, a paper cut would be awful."

They soon realized this was what I had been dealing with just then.

This circle of Hell would have had to be the one for vanity, pride, avarice. You can envision us, I hope, with all our vast technology struck down and leaving us more useless than we could have been fifty years ago when everything we had would have been paper-based, tearing pages from discarded magazines portraying beauty now without worth, worn out images of faces now re-formed, phoenix-like, from the metaphorical ashes of anesthetic and silicone, fat pulled from one part and injected into another in an endless cycle of self-preservation.

And how had I injured myself? In an attempt at beautifying myself, harnessing wind and fire to tame my hair, damaged again and again by the daily ritual of blow-drying and straightening.

Certainly, I have learned today's lesson well:

Watch where you put your hands while you use your hair straightener.




What? Did you think I would stop using it?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Why the publishing industry is making me angry, of late, or a long list of complaints

I buy books a lot. Really a lot, as it is not only a hobby but an occupation.

Lately I have become angry, and since it is relatively effortless to move me into a rant of any sort, here we go...

1. Copyright law is annoying, though necessary, but international copyright law is enough to make one scream.


When I went to England, I noticed tons of amazing books that we hadn't had at the bookstores I'd visited while prepping for the trip. I purchased tons of these books and took them home. Months (maybe longer) passed before I found the same books in the states. This brought me humor, but I didn't think much of it. But this creates a problem.

You see, in many cases, if a publisher from another country, let's say Britain, releases a title, it comes out in that country first. Then, if the book does well, editors scour it, remove the "British" lingo ("tyre" becomes "tire", for example), and they slap a new cover on it and send it to the states.

Setting aside the fact that they have effectively dumbed down a book that readers would most likely have had no difficulty understanding, thereby changing the author's original text (meaning that you haven't really read Harry Potter, even if you think you have), this slows down the process of sending a book to us for our enjoyment and makes us wait for the book to be shockingly successful in other markets first.

I can deal with all of this.

But here's the thing...

When a book gets published in the states, our publishing industry prints off tons of copies and markets the heck out of them. In addition, booksellers like Amazon or Barnes and Nobles pop that item up first when you search for the title online, because they assume that you're looking for the US title, in American English.

We'll pretend I don't feel patronized by that, and assume that others without the family background I have, might have trouble with British slang.

That being said, there is another bigger problem this produces, because other countries have a publishing industry too, and they don't make as much money if our publishing industry sells editions of books published originally in their homeland to them, thereby making money off of their readers instead of the reverse. Maybe I could make that sentence sound better...

Say I make an apple pie, and it's amazing. It's so good, in fact, that my friend Bob from India (real guy, name changed) decides he wants to have that pie in his country, but it won't fly well, as its pastry is delicate. So I give Bob the recipe so he can make it in India, and he's all happy.

Meanwhile, I am selling that pie by the slice in my hometown, making a killing in the pie market that will allow me to retire early and knit all day long while I watch reruns of The X-Files and gripe about how every show Joss Whedon puts on television gets cancelled just as it starts to be amazing.

But Bob has since gone back to India and started selling his version of my pie too, and he's set up a little factory and the workers are churning out pie faster than my workers are churning out pie because his workers aren't used to having apple pie this good in India, due to the old adage "as American as apple pie." So people start getting really excited about it and they set up a website and start selling Bob's version of my pie all over the world--which is amazing--so Bob becomes a kagillionare and uses the funds to do amazing things for his people in India, like he is already doing in real life because he is such an amazing person. Plus his kids are cute.

The act, though, of putting the pie out to the international community has created an imaginary problem for the imaginary me with her imaginary life of sitting in front of her television with her knitting. This me with the fake-but-perfect life must now deal with her own pie competing with her pie business, and the fact that the pie is so internationally famous now due to some other person's use of the pie comes back around and destroys my pie business, leaving me with only the masses of yarn I have purchased as a memory of those perfect years of knitting round-the-clock.

The initial product competes with the international version of the product, and in publishing, the U.S. version often wins out, crushing the international competition in an evil way that comes from the sheer size of our publishing houses and the money they have invested in snapping up rights to documents and all that.

I don't know how bad this really is, because I pay so little attention to the publishing industry at large. I only know that Australia wasn't happy about it. So if an Australian author puts out a book that we want to publish for American audiences, we have to wait for a set period of time before we can make that American version available for Australian audiences.

And so I have to wait super-long to get a copy of Melina Marchetta's new book, The Piper's Son. I am blaming the international publishing industry for this.

I get why, really I do, but I am still depressed. And now I want pie.

2. And as if I didn't have to wait long enough, where have all the paperbacks gone?

It's expensive to publish a book, because of all the work of the initial investment. You've got to find the writer, get the editing and spiffing-up of the text done, pay the writer and the editors, design a cover, the text, the layout, pay all of those people, and print the books to sell them.

The huge investment, though, is all at once. You tunnel a large quantity of money into getting one book, but printing them isn't all that pricey, especially if you're doing it in China, which you are (because John Green told me so). All the books you print after the first one just keep getting cheaper.

Publishers can make more money of hardcover books, and they like making money (so do I, for that matter). So they keep the book in hardcover for as long as possible, then make it snazzy again in paperback (preferably trade paperback and not mass market).

Then they make more money. And more. If there's going to be a movie, they make even more.

But poor Laura is stuck waiting two years for her paperback edition of Pies of India, the imaginary book she made up just now because she wants pie and figures other people will too, contributing to the popularity of the imaginary book.

I think e-books and the new e-book reader boom will have some impact on all of this, but I could be wrong.

3. Some people are being snobby, and not putting out their books on e-reader.

Let me just say, you will just make more money doing this right away, because people like me who wait until a book is in paperback (for the most part) will snap up your book on its day of release in order to be certain of reading it when they want to read it. Which I do. Want to read it, that is.

Send me The Piper's Son!

4. I don't know anyone in Australia.

That's a real problem, and pretty much the root of all my complaints thus far. I could be reading that book come March if only I knew some random Australian person who would send me the book and some of those little biscuits I love so much. It would also be cheaper, I'd imagine, than trying to get it shipped myself. Especially if they wanted American things I could send them, like Oreos with double the filling.

Granted, my not knowing any Australians is really kind of my own fault, living as I do so far away from Australia and not having gone out of my way to find and meet Australians traveling in the U.S. I chose not to be a stalker. That was a good move, I think, on my part. But I have no book to show for it.

Why do I care so much? I imagine that you would ask me this, because I imagine that you will care about the price of pies in Pathanamthitta*. The reason is this: I love Melina Marchetta's books. She is amazing, a genius, and I cry every time I read Jellicoe Road, no matter how many times I read it. It's just that good.

I love her books so much that the instant I could pre-order Finnikin of the Rock, I did it. For me, and for the library collection, because I didn't want to have to share my copy of the book with other people and their grubby (they could be grubby) hands. I also wanted--want--to be able to carry it around with me and hold it, because I am just that excited about it. Really.

Why doesn't Penguin Australia want me to have The Piper's Son? Don't they like me?


*Pathanamthitta is a real-live city in real-live India, just like Bob is a real-live person (name changed) who may well make pies from time to time, in between his missionary work.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What happened to the five stitches...

Because this is my life, and nothing ever goes as one might expect, more than mere annoyance sprang from the situation with the five rogue stitches.

Sure, I did get the stitches under control, but that didn't mean my problem was solved at all. No, in fact, it just cemented the stress that was to come.

There are days when I wish I had real internet (it's on it's way) so that I could capture things on film (pixel?) so that all of you could see what I looked at last night, on the floor of my room...

To begin this tale, we must establish that I was brought coffee, a mocha, from a nearby coffee shop. This coffee was given to me during my last hour at work, and it contained extra shot(s) of expresso, something that my friends will tell you is a bad, bad idea.

You see, there's something called "stream of consciousness" that authors have used in the past, a mode of storytelling that is actually pretty similar to how I write these blogs, except the writers who use stream of consciousness aren't as focused as I am.

Usually.

But when I have too much caffiene, something happens to my brain. It starts to resemble the writings of Virginia Wolfe or even Jack Kerouac, in that there is no punctuation (in spoken language punctuation is implied by pauses or breaks in thought) or breathing or continuity of thought...

In fact, I end up interrupting myself with a new thought, because the new thought--oh wait not that one this one--is much more interesting than the one at the beginning.

So, fueled by coffee, I decided to fix the collar on my new vest, which was floppy. Also kind of too big.

This thought ended with me, a pair of sharp, sharp scissors, and my sweater.

Yes, I hacked a chunk out of that collar so fast, I didn't even fully have time to grasp the ramafications of such an action on, say, the seam that connected my collar to the sweater at large.

Envision me, kind readers, sitting on the floor of my room, surrounded by crinkly ramen noodle shaped bits of brown wool with the broken body of my sweater-collar ravaged on the ground before me. Oh, and I was watching the last episodes of Buffy, season seven.

So, the First was all being the source of all evil, and I was kicking sweater (clears throat).

No, it wasn't a tragedy, I did succeed in fixing the collar. I ripped a good chunk out of each side, took out the seam, then sewed it all back up so that the floppy went away and it looked right. And now I'm wearing it. And it looks good.

Someday, when I get fast internet...I'll show you how pretty it is. But those of you coming to Coffee D'Vine tonight won't have to wait!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Windows, A Love Story

Saturday

We have three computers at the circulation desk. Three. Two are for circulation. One is for us. It is our happy, lovely computer that we use to do such vital things as: Google-ing the numbers on the bottom of plastic products to see if they can be recycled, checking Facebook, watching the YouTube video of a new song, checking Ravelry, writing brochures for upcoming events, checking e-mail, drafting press releases, checking Facebook, checking Ravelry again, checking Facebook again, checking the Old Navy coupon page, and once again checking Facebook. This computer is a vital part of our lives.

But the computer started linking us to pages we didn't really want to see, like advertisements and what I can only imagine was pornography, but WebMarshall kindly blocked that for me, saving me from almost certain blindness.

And I knew that something had gone terribly wrong.

I ran scan after scan, update after update, to no avail.

Then our Computer Man came, and he did the same thing I had done a dozen times, only this time it worked for some reason, and we expelled the demon living in the PC tower. We were saved.

The following day, I went to lunch. When I came back, the computer had locked itself. Except, it wouldn't unlock. In fact, it wouldn't do anything. It would turn itself on, get to the happy Windows logo, the little green line would load all the way, then it would tell me that it had unexpectedly stop, and would I like to start up normally, or in safe mode?

None of those options worked.

I went home.

The weekend arrived (that's now). Computer Man came again on Friday, he left things for me to set up today (Saturday). You won't be reading this on Saturday.

He said to install service pack three. Service pack three said to install service pack one. Service pack one no longer exists.

Once this was discovered, Computer Man sent me service pack two via the glory of remote assitance. Only when I waited the requisite two hours for it to download (or for it to feel comfortable in its new surroundings?), I discovered that the only response to clicking the service pack two was for it to claim boldly, "Access Denied!" even though I was logged onto our network as Puppetmaster Supreme.

This was bad news.

I called Computer Man. Nothing.

Then our computer announced boldly that the incomplete download may have "damaged Windows" and that I should really do something about that. I turned off the monitor. Now I am going home...

Monday


I let Computer Man in, following a second, also unsuccessful, attempt at downloading the appropriate file. This attempt led to the compter turning itself off when I attempted to link up with the server. Apparently, the two entities don't like each other at all, and refuse to communicate.

Three hours passed.

Now I am typing the remainder of this blog on the now-working computer. What did Computer Man do?

Your guess is as good as mine.

For all I can tell, he did exactly what I'd tried to do, only because he was doing it, it worked. All the power to him.

While he was here, he also helped me get over my disgust blended with terror at the man on the cover of the 2010 Ripley's Believe it or Not book, the man who had done himself up as a stegasaurus/iguana man. Turns out he did it with make-up, rather than grafting spikes to his skull like the man I saw on daytime television back when I was unemployed during the summer when still in high school. I think he was on Maury...

When Windows had finally been re-installed (Where did it go? What took it from us?), Computer Man left.

At this point, I ran anti-virus and anti-malware.

Yes, there was some malware action. The same malware action there had been, in fact, prior to the attempts at repair and the amazing disappearing Windows.

I removed it.

Then I went home.

Tuesday

Now every single solitary time I open Internet Explorer, it tells me that a program has attempted to change my default search provider from Bing to something Other, and that Internet Explorer has changed the default search provider back to Bing.

The program that's trying to change search providers? Internet Explorer. Why? Because Bing is so totally not by default search provider. I don't know where it got that idea...just because I have Internet Explorer doesn't mean I like it. And why would I trust Bing to tell me what it thinks I want to search for? Maybe I don't want it to decide what I'm looking for. How about that?

Meanwhile, I have also run Windows Update, because it seemed prudent. Who even knows. I give up. Computer Man is coming back Thursday, he can do what he wants with the succession of windows popping up to tell me what's wrong with my default search provider. I give up. Stupid computer. Stupid failure of an antivirus, stupid Windows, and Stupid, STUPID Microsoft.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Five Stitches

Firstly, for the record, I am allergic to latex. I should not allow nurses to put band-aids on my skin until I am certain they are non-latex. I should make sure various tubings and materials used medically are non-latex, because yesterday I proved to myself (due to staggering stupidity) that my latex allergy is worsening in severity, and no one wants to go to the emergency room because their band-aid is making them stop breathing.

Secondly, I am very stupid. This is proven by both the latex thing and the Five Stitches.

You see, reading and following directions is important.

Do you remember those worksheets they used to give you in elementary school, with all the dumb instructions students were supposed to follow point by point.

They would go like this:

1. Put your name on your paper.

2. When you write your name, it should be in all lowercase letters, in the bottom left corner of the page.

3. How many circles are drawn on the chalkboard?

4. What is your favorite food?

5. Do you have a latex allergy that could potentially kill you?

6. How many stupid stitches do you have on a safety pin, waiting for you to pick them up and knit them back and forth all the way up the front on each side of your sweater, prior to grafting them and then sewing each stitch to the corresponding stitch on each side of the cardigan, meaning that you are sewing much much more than what you would like to, if you had the choice?

7. Copy this sentence: Laura is allergic to latex.

8. Make sure to write the sentence out in Anglo-Saxon, when possible (because I doubt there is an Anglo-Saxon word for latex).

9. Jump once and clap your hands twice, then sit back down.

10. Skip questions 3-9, turn paper in to your teacher.


I hated these, but luckily I was accustomed to the stupidity of the instructions and knew to read to the end of each worksheet following this pattern in order to ensure that I did not make a public display of foolishness in the classroom, which would be counter to my Life Goal, which was to become Invisible.

It was a good thing I had that goal, because I can sure be dumb--or rather--Dumb. It deserves the capitol letter.

I cast on for my second front panel on Monday night, watching Cranford on DVD because I love that sort of thing.

In my pattern's instructions (Manos' Boston--a vest thing with such an ugly picture on the front of the pamphlet that I will refrain from linking to it), it tells me to work 4 rows in double seed stitch. Then it tells me to knit the five last stitches, turn it around, knit them again, go on to the end in double seed stitch, then turn it around, double seed, knit five, turn around, knit five, double seed, turn around, that's what it's all about.

On the first panel, I failed miserably for the first six rows by not knitting those five stitches, but instead working them in double seed stitch. Then I had to rip back two rows before I could do what the pattern intended me to do with those five stitches, which was to take them and place them on a safety pin where they would wait for me to be ready for them.

I corrected this mistake while watching No Reservations with Jennifer. Then I did what I ought to have known better than to do...I kept going, confident that I knew what was going on.

And I did. But I hadn't fully grasped what those five little stitches meant. Not yet, at least.

Suddenly, I realized what they meant, and I turned the page of my booklet to observe the cover, the picture of my vest-to-be, and a sinking feeling developed within me, as the full weight of those five stitches fell upon my shoulders.

I was to take the stitches off the holder and knit them back and forth until I decided I wanted to die, then I was to continue until I had the stitch panel, now the button band, the full length of the front panel. Then I had to sew the two together.

Why not knit them together? I asked dolefully. What possible reason could there be for seaming? Why would someone do this to me? I railed against the injustice, waving my knitting at Jennifer, who ought to have been terrified at this point, but she was more worried about her sock (Jennifer is a Knitter-In-Training).

My logical Brain-Half told me that this might just be to grant the knitted button band a little stability, or maybe it was to better allow for the torture of furry woodland creatures in some Hell-Dimension where button bands are knitted and seamed instead of being picked up and knit like in this dimension, where things sometimes are known to make some kind of sense.

I knit the first front panel of my sweater. I cast off.

Then I started the second. When I started, I did what a normal person would do. I followed the neat, happy directions, and I knit and knit, putting my five little stupid-I-hate-my-life-why-must-I-suffer-someone-please-make-it-stop stitches, blast them, onto a safety pin, and I knit.

At knit night, I did waist shaping, I ribbed, I seed stitched, and then I went home (after discovering that an Elmo band-aid had the power to send me to hospital, if I had not taken it off).

I reached the arm-hole shaping. At this point, nearing the end of my sweater, I felt the urge to lovingly arrange the elements of my vest in the positions where I would soon sew them.

This was when I discovered a little. Something.

You see, when you knit a sweater, a cardigan to be precise, you are given instructions. Back Panel, Front Left Panel, and--let's not forget this, folks--Front Right Panel.

Front Right Panel.

This is so that your sweater has its front panels the opposite of each other, not identical to each other, because if they happened to be identical (unless your sweater panels are reversible) you will end up with your armpit arranged over your sternum and your button band in your armpit, with the other side positioned as it ought to be. You cannot button buttons onto the side of your sweater, onto the back button-band-less panel. Because then you would have nowhere to put the buttons on the front, except for in what would have been the armpit but is now your sternum, a place that also has no buttonholes.

In short, you knit them differently, because if you don't, you're screwed.

Now. What had Laura done?

She had lovingly knit the front left, then (because that was so much fun) she had knit a second front left panel.

Laura's five measly stitches were on the wrong side of her sweater. This was the only problem. But there was no way to correct this, except to--

Tear the front panel out and knit a right panel instead of the second left, so that there would be a left and a right. Like there should have been in the first place.

And now, those five stupid stitches that will cause such future ragings and torment, those stitches that will make me want to use my knitting needles like implements of torture...those five stitches...

Will cause me to knit the second panel twice, which is really like knitting three panels.

Those five stitches make me so angry I want to light the whole mess on fire. But it's wool, and wool doesn't burn well.

Rachael! I know you have 380+ stitches of your own to despair of, but those five stitches! Why?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dear Dad

Things have been pretty dull here at the library, but today we did have some excitement. A woman came in with her daughter and told us they were giving free H1N1 vaccinations over at the health department. So we packed up our stuff and went for a walk.

It took under five minutes for me to get the shot. And now I can go to work, live my life, get books that are contaminated with viral evil handed to me, and shield my face as tiny children cough open-mouthed at me, when they have just insisted that I "Come'ere a minute."

Dad, I know you won't get a flu shot. I know you. I do.

That being said, let me give you a scenario.

Let's say there is a pastor.

We'll call him...Telly.

Telly works a great deal in the community.

He visits hospitals.

He goes to homes of the elderly, while they sit covered in acrylic crocheted afghans, shivering in 85 degree living rooms with stale, recycled air and the scent of too many dinners of meat and heavy gravies hanging in the air, mixing with the chemical tinge of the eternal medications that spread, littered, across counters and tables, concealed in clear plastic tombs marked with dates and hours and minutes, counting down the seconds between doses even as they tick away the last moments of life, capsule after capsule, pill after precious pill, until the last refill ends.

Telly, however, is a healthy man. Unless you count that time with the heart attack, and the wandering of Parkview's halls and varied floors, as he visited his parishioners even though it was he that ought to have been attended, even as the nurses frantically searched him out.

That was kind of stupid of him, if you think about it. Dad.

Telly is vital, often confused for a much-younger man. He is active. He runs, lifts weights, and obsesses about his weight more than most women (BURN!).

Did I mention, Dad, how much I love you?

I really do.

Telly has a daughter as well, a daughter who once had to console her mother when Telly was ill, gasping like a fish, lying on his belly over the humidifier as he gulped air, wheezing it out before taken by racking coughs that shook the very foundations of their blue-gray country home.

Telly's wife almost called for an ambulance, but had Telly really been near death when she thought to place the call, the ambulance would only have arrived in enough time to pronounce him dead, such is the security their distance from the hospital provides.

Let us imagine that Telly has had an average week. He awakens each day at 5:00 a.m. for his devotions, which he partakes in silence now that the gunshot of the recliner springs have been silenced. Now his daughter sleeps through to her alarm, a rare treat she has yet to grow accustomed to.

He goes to work, he visits, he prepares sermons and meets with prayer groups, mission teams, other pastors, and the occasional friend. He sometimes makes it home prior to his bedtime, which is 10:00 p.m. On those evenings he sits, collapsed like a balloon in a chair or on the couch, his brow furrowed, his eyes narrowing to slits as he struggles to keep them open.

Let us say the sermon has just finished.

This would, in this case, be the second sermon. Not the evening one.

Kelly--Telly--is standing in the narthex, and a little child with perfect blonde curls is darting about his feet holding an ink pen. Or perhaps the child is hiding behind his legs, ducked under the tables to hide from a determined parent, holding a jacket in one hand, a Bible in the other.

Let us say that Telly breathes the same air as this child.

Now, let's play Science.

In Science, when a person breathes out, they are not just shooting air out of their nose (or mouth, if you have sinus problems) like the aforementioned deflated balloon.

No, in fact, a person breathes out a mixture of air and particles of what Science calls sputum.

This is gross. It doesn't just sound gross, it is gross.

Because contrary to popular belief, this sputum courses out of your nose and mouth not just when you sneeze or cough, but also when you exhale, sigh, or just talk.

Right now, you might be sitting in a room with another person. Imagine him, sitting at a computer, talking to himself. Now imagine that the room you are sitting in is enclosed. You are breathing is sputum. Yep, you are sucking down his lung-juices with every breath you take, so you better like him, because you're pretty intimate right now. Lung-juice intimate.

This is completely normal.

It is also why hypochondriacs refuse to ride in airplanes. Imagine meeting over 200 new people, because you are practically making out with them, since you are breathing their spit through the air. Every breath you take is like a Lung-Juice Slurpy, coursing down into your lungs and settling deep inside, mingling with your own in a process called...

Breathing. It happens every day.

You never know it, so who cares, right?

Telly should.

Because the cute curly-haired youth stabbing Telly with the pen has H1N1, right then, right at that second.

Oh, she doesn't look sick. Yet. But by Tuesday night, she'll have spiked a fever, her parents will be on the phone with the pediatrician, and the family will be in...

Quarantine.

But Telly won't be.

No, Telly will be sitting with the elderly wrapped-in-a-blanket person in their stuffy living room. His lung-juices mingling with theirs in the ever-blending mulligan stew that is humanity.

Telly, being as he is (of course) Strong-Like-Bull, kicks that Oink-Flu's like it's a bratty not-quite-teenage-anymore-in-fact-more-like-twenty-something-even-though-it-will-take-until-her-mid-forties-for-it-to-sink-into-Telly's-thick-skull daughter.

Telly, being the He-Man that he is, will go out with a club and a hunting knife and take down that bear (see, using metaphor). He will triumph.

But what about Mr. Sick Old Guy?

Well, in my fake scenario, since I am in total control, PuppetMaster Supreme, Mr. Sick Old Guy gets a little sick but miraculously recovers just in time to teach Telly a lesson.

Does Telly get the lesson?

Telly's Lesson (in case you weren't paying much attention): Get the flu vaccine not for yourself, you flunkie, get it for the sick old people and tiny little ones and pregnant ladies you see every day, so you are not a walking petri dish of despair.

Here endeth the lesson.


*Yes, I am aware of the MASH tie-in. That is why I titled this post as I did. I love MASH. I really, really do. Hawkeye was a Knitter. Need I say more?

Monday, January 11, 2010

I think I have a problem.

That being said, I do not plan on ending my problem, controlling my use of the substance in question, or getting help from my support system. I also plan on meeting regularly with friends I have met due to my abuse of this substance and recruiting others to its use.

Yeah, it's yarn.

Old joke, I know. Not funny anymore, I get it. But hey, it's funny to me still, so you have to keep hearing it.

This weekend I was gifted with the extreme pleasure that only forcing my friends to purchase yarn can bring me. I drug Jennifer to Hobby Lobby where we picked out some sock yarn, as she is bound and determined to "finish a sock" this year. I think she can finish two.

We also picked out some double pointed needles for her use, this before I realized that she had perfectly wonderful bamboo DPNs in the correct size. Oops. I emphatically refused to allow her to buy DPNs based on color alone. She wanted blue. Blue were too big. Sorry, Jen. Can't allow you to make socks big enough for a giant just because you love the color blue. Knit blue socks.

I also picked out some lovely gray and pink/peach yarn to use in knitting Mousie. So I have Yankee-yarn, yarn for my little tribute to my doodling mouse invader. Hooray!

Of course, the yarn is silk and bamboo, I think, a bit luxe for a knitted toy mouse. But there wasn't any other lighter-than-worsted-weight yarn available in the two colors I needed, so I gave in and got the pretty soft yarn, just because it was there.

Now, a less impatient knitter might have waited until the following Friday, when she (or he) planned on going to her (or his) yarn store (in Fort Wayne) where they have little balls of every color imaginable, in a hardier wool. But what do I care? This mouse can be fuzzy and cute. It can look like the mouse in A Visitor for Bear .

Meanwhile, I have knit up the Mongolian cashmere I got for Christmas into a lovely cowl. It's done. It's sitting in the Wooden Salad Bowl of Nearly-Finished Projects. The only reason I'm not wearing it now has to do with a pom-pom, my pom-pom related inexperience, and the fact that if I screw up the pom-pom, I have effectively ruined Mongolian cashmere. Not going to happen.

Knitting with the cashmere presented me with some difficulty, as I had no desire to mess it up by knitting with my usual tightness. I wanted it to be as soft once knitted as it was beforehand, so I did what I have never done before: I forced myself to knit loosely.

It was unnatural. It took longer. But my cowl came out soft as can be, so it was worth it.

But this created a problem.

Forcing myself to knit loosely got me used to knitting looser. Not that I'm not still a tight knitter. I am. but my gauge is now less tight.

Meanwhile, I am half-through a vest, I'm about to armhole-shaping on one of the front panels. But here's the thing: I knit the back B.C. (before cowl) and now I'm knitting the front A.C. (after cowl) and they are very different sizes.

And I have decided not to care. So what? I'll block the back larger. Whatever. I am not ripping back this not-plied fuzzy fuzzy merino with all its stick-togetherness just because I was spoiled with cashmere and now my fingers are bent on destroying a perfectly good front-of-sweater.

This could be one ugly vest.

Stupid yarn. Too sticky to frog. It's even Frog Tree--it should be frogable! But no, instead I have to sit with a stupid needle and slowly pull out every stupid stitch to keep from ruining it completely. Knitting it once is fine, but it looks awful when you re-knit with it.

I should have just made a felted-something. Except (exclude these from my generalization) I hate felting.

So I have resolved to think of stressful things and hope my gauge normalizes a little before I finish Mom's socks and my everything else.

Maybe I will do as Jennifer did, until I forced her to stop since her pinkie was in such excruciating pain, wrapping the yarn repeatedly around my pinkie finger and yanking it with each knitted stitch. That made her knitting very, very tight, even if it did make her hand hurt so much that after two rows she had to put down her work and wait for the agony to fade.

I believe in you, Jen. You will get those socks finished!

And I will finish: the Summer Scabbard, sewing on the straps and buttons for the French Press Slippers, the other blue sock for Mom, the other green sock for Mom, the lace stole for Mom, the lace for me, the vest, the cowl, the other cowl, the other-other cowl (for Mom), the other Ellington sock, those two sweaters I haven't started yet because I have so many other things I haven't finished, the two pairs of socks waiting because I have too many other socks I haven't finished, and the green Paton's Grace Mystery Garment.

On the plus side of all of this, I have removed clothes from yet another dresser drawer (who knows where I'm going to find space for them) and filled the drawer with surplus yarn, taken all the remainders--the excess yarn from projects past--and put it into a plastic wheel-ie cart thing (to go into my closet), sorted out my unfinished things (see above), found a cache of Addi Turbos (circular needles) I had hidden in the corner, and finally united the twenty-odd patterns I had scattered all over my room by putting them in their own individual plastic sleeves and then into a binder. Translation: Now I can find things when I want to finish them. This is movement in the right direction.

Meanwhile, it has become apparent to me that there is no longer enough space for me to inhabit my room. No. It must be given over to the yarn. It will be the yarn's room, and I will sleep in the corner of the living room, perhaps on the couch, or if not that, on the floor next to the dog's bed, because it is near the fireplace and somewhat warm.

I will move clothing and shoes into my car, where I will retrieve them each morning, darting out in my pajamas and snow boots.

That sounds pretty reasonable.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Driving through the snow...

In a four-door gray sedan!
O'r the ice we go,
Sliding all the way
AHHH AHHH AHHH!


Okay, that's all you get.

That was my Honda Civic (a.k.a. The Honda, The Piece, The Little Car, and so forth) winter-driving song. It goes on, but it gets dumber as it continues, so I am stopping before I make a bigger fool of myself than usual.

I hate driving in gross snowy weather, but snow isn't as freaky for me as ice is. I hate ice. Even the kind you see and can easily avoid. I hate it all.

This was reaffirmed for me this morning as I pulled out of my driveway and saw how beautiful 16 was this morning. Barely plowed, the compacted snow from the previous day had frozen solid. Nice. And though driving on it was not so risky as on other sorts of ice, I still had the chill of blind panic that I fight every time I see the glossy surface of ice on a road.

I wasn't always like this. But now, every winter, I have to get over the annual Ice Phobia.

Why is this Laura's Number One Phobia (the second being to have a more-than-friendship relationship with a member of the opposite sex)?

For that, we have a story.

I hated driving when I was in Driver's Ed. I was 15, in a group of students from the class below mine, and in the midst of the hugely awkward stage I have yet to fully leave behind me. I hated being looked at, talked to, noticed, asked questions, having the door held open for me by a stranger (or acquaintance)...pretty much all social interaction. I had my circle of friends. We were good. Anyone else though...freaked me out.

Being crammed in a car with three other people, all actively involved in judging me, that was Hell. On. Earth.

When Hell was over, I had my 16th birthday. But I didn't get my license. Heck no.

You see, at the time, a law had just been passed that said any driver under 18 (I think) couldn't have anyone in the car with them for three (I think) months after getting their driver's license.

Okay. So, I live in the middle of no where, but as I said before, even though I was smack dab in the middle of a social vacuum, I had friends. All of these friends were getting their licenses too. And the only way we could legally go anywhere together would involve all four of us driving separate vehicles to the same location.

How dumb is that?

Instead of having one "risky" young driver on the road, now you have four (at least in my case). All trying to stick together, all trying to convey complicated "I'm turning here" hand gestures since that was back when only rich people's parents had cell phones.

So, four times the risk.

My solution to this was not to get a license. But when I ended up (after much turmoil) going to MC--and commuting--it became apparent that I would have to drive there, since there isn't public transportation around here. Or anything, really.

I inherited the Honda. Not The Honda, the Honda. Honda I. We'll call it The Accord, just to keep things clear, as it was the first of two Hondas.

The Accord had air conditioning. The Accord had a working stereo system. The Accord had a passenger side mirror and plenty of leg room. The Accord had been well-maintained. The Accord had a leak-proof windshield and cruise control. It was old (1986) but it worked, and it worked well.

Sophomore year. Fall Semester.

Snow coats the ground, naturally, this includes roadways.

Laura, fresh-faced and innocent, hops into her little two door car and turns onto 16. She relishes in the untouched perfection of new-fallen snow. She notes the hazard of the slush it has covered and the low-low temperature outside. She reduces speed considerably and drives in the tire marks left by others so that her low-to-the-ground car does not become wedged in the snow.

She accepts that she will be late for class, and she is okay with that.

What happened next is a bit of a blur.

You see, Laura had decided to go back home, as she noted a great deal of ice beneath the snow. The super-slick black kind, concealed by snow but no less slippery.

She had no easy place to turn around, so she continued, planning to turn in the Indiana Pork Producer's giant parking lot.

Then the van came.

Now, the van driver had a considerably large vehicle to contend with. They handled this problem by driving in the middle of the road. Laura moved as far to the side as she could. And then it happened.

I recall the sensation of weightlessness, caused by the centrifugal force of my spinning car. I corrected, regained control, then hit another patch of ice.

By then, it was totally over.

I changed direction a multitude of times, then regained awareness only to see my car slam into an approaching tree.

I regained consciousness.

At that moment, I was almost-certain my arm was broken. The impact had also knocked all the air out of me, so I had that fantastic (sarcasm there) fish-out-of-water sensation.

Meanwhile, because my death-defying stunt driving was so important to others, the van driver had continued onward, leaving me to my horrible fate.

Several people stopped. One called the gas station in Roann, the gas station then called Mom. Mom took the van and came for me. While I waited, I watched a police car slow near my car, roll down the window, and stare before going on to something presumably more important.

Thanks, Dude. You were terrific, really. Especially when you came back later and got all mad because I had "left the scene of an accident" when you did the same thing moments earlier. Darn that pesky medical attention.

Mom arrived and told me to start the car.

At this point, the car was across the road from the tree, as it had ricocheted off spun once more, and ended up in the ditch facing the opposite direction on the other side of the road.

She said she thought maybe we could drive it home, and perhaps have it towed from there.

"Uhhh," the woman who'd stayed with me said. "I don't think that thing can drive."

I started the car. Mom told me to. I was in a bit of shock.

Liquid and steam poured from the engine. It also made a very amusing noise, one that I reproduced for several days to all I spoke to.

"The engine block is cracked," the nice waiting lady explained. "You don't want her driving that."

"Okay," Mom said. "Laura, get your stuff."

Then she walked back to the van and got inside.

Meanwhile, I was pretty sure that my arm was just bruised, but my ribs felt pretty awful. I also was weak from the, you know, stress, so lifting my heavy bag of textbooks and Norton Anthologies was a real treat, as was walking over to the car and putting the bag inside and lifting myself up and into the car.

It hurt.

"Dad will come and look at the car," Mom said, because this was before we got Darcy and Mom started calling him Daddy like she did when Paul and I were four and two.

I keep telling her she's going to be eighty with puffy M-shaped bangs wandering around the grocery store using a cart to hold herself up, calling "Daddy? Daddy?" as she walks from aisle to aisle.

"It will need towed," I said. "No one can drive that thing."

"We'll see," she replied.

Then she took me to the doctor's office and he looked me over, pronounced that I had "probably not" broken ribs but "certainly" torn cartilage, something I was told would take "ages" to heal, "if ever."

We went home.

By this point, Mom's freak-out had become less of a paralyzing force. So, when we passed the wreckage of my car, and she finally comprehended what she'd seen before...

She was upset.

"Now do you see why I thought you were crazy when you asked me to start it?" I asked, feeling much better now that I was, well, alive and going home.

Mom didn't really have anything to say about that. She just kept driving.

Strictly speaking, I did everything I was supposed to when I lost control of the car. I regained control, too, several times. But it did me no good, as the road was all wet ice and there was no traction to be had.

Still, the knowledge that I hadn't goofed gave me little comfort. I became increasingly paranoid. Frost on the road became equated with ice. I didn't want to drive when the weather was below freezing.

But I soon became able to turn my torso without shocking amounts of pain, Dad replaced his Civic with a newer, classier car, and I became the "proud" new owner of The Honda and all of its flaws.

Because The Honda was a great deal worse in snow than The Accord had been. My little blue car could hold its own in most snowfalls, but The Civic would fishtail in the lightest accumulation.

In short: The Honda Sucked.

This we all know (and knew). Even without its snow performance, it was a crappy car. Just because it was good on gas, I loved it, because gas soon went up to $4.00+ a gallon and my car still could go for two weeks on a full tank of gas, so I was a happy commuter.

I mention all of this because we've had some snow, the most we've had this winter, and it has caused me to notice just how crapulescent The Honda was in bad road conditions. Really.

Yesterday I was supposed to work from 1 to 8. I got ready, was about to leave, and Dad stopped me. "You aren't driving to work," he said.

"No," I replied. "I'm teleporting."

"I don't want you driving in this."

"Dad," I said. "I've driven in way worse than this. It's no big deal. It's only snow."

"Yeah, but you aren't driving," he countered.

"So I'll just call work and tell them to go on without me," I said snidely. "I'm sure they'll be so happy to let the children climb bookshelves because you told me I couldn't drive."

"You aren't driving," he repeated. Then turning to my mother, he said, "Jul, I need your keys."

"Wait a minute," I said. "Was that your nice way of asking me if I wanted a ride to work so I wouldn't have to drive in the snow?"

"Yes," he said, sounding exasperated.

I love my dad. He tries to be gentlemanly, and it sounds like he's being a jerk. It's a good thing I know him so well.

I drove to work today (slowly) and noticed that no matter how un-cared-for that 16 was, my car didn't slide or fishtail or skid. I was peachy.

Within minutes, I relaxed. By the time I arrived at work, I had come to a conclusion.

It's a good thing I never knew what it was like to have a nice car. See, growing up, we had car after car that...sucked...and all of them decayed and died in our possession. Not a single one had more than one redeemable quality.

If I had known better, I would have hated The Honda with a passionate vengeance. I would have driven it off a cliff or something. Stupid Honda. It was such a wreck. I mean, really. If I had crashed that thing, I would have died so fast, I wouldn't even have had a chance to beg forgiveness for all the rage I harbored against my car and its deadly construction.

Stupid car.

Really, you all told me. You told me how bad it was, and I didn't believe you. Because I remembered the Datsun, the car that Sucked so bad you have to capitalize Suck when you use it in reference to it. The Datsun that we called Puff the Tragic Wagon. The car Dad had to take the back of an axe to if he wanted to open to doors. The one with the gear shift that sometimes worked and the key you could take out of the ignition at any time. Oh, and you could start it with anything you wanted, no key necessary.

The point of all this?

I Love My New Car.

Note: I tried to look up the 1980 Datsun Suck, but I don't think I have the model right. They must have given it a better name to trick potential buyers.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Yankee's Song

I just laughed so hard I choked on my orange segment. Here is why:

Yankee Doodled in her car
what of that chocolate sprinkle?
left her car in such a mess
next time he'll only tinkle


Jennifer left that in yesterday's comments, and I have to say, life doesn't get much better than this! Thank you, Jen! Now I have a happy song to sing as I take out Yankee's live capture trap thing, as I think he's gone and leaving peanut butter in the car might only accomplish attracting some of his friends.

But yesterday, after writing my Yankee post, I felt the urge to commemorate my mouse/car experience, so I went online (on Ravelry) in hunt of a pattern by Ysolda Teague that I remembered loving ages ago...

Linkage here!

I plan on knitting this little fellow (the pattern is called Mousie) and keeping him as a car-friend. I think now I will give him a little scroll for his little hand, with his song on it.

This will become a children's book, I can tell. I have a sixth sense about that sort of thing...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Yankee Doodled

I decided I needed yarn.

This was not your average impulse. I wasn't out of sock yarn. I had several sweaters-worth sitting about. I could have knit other things. I could still knit other things. The world wasn't going to end if I didn't go to a yarn store.

I had to go to a yarn store.

I think we can equate this with Jennifer's finding a band--or even a song--that she must have and hunting for it at every store within driving distance. Or that time we went to every store in Peru looking for a copy of The Little Mermaid on sale so we could watch it and sing along (to no avail). It was the kind of journey fueled by obsession.

So--unhealthy, impulsive, obsessive--even manic...all would be good ways to describe Laura last Wednesday night.

It was decided. I would go to Fort Wayne on Thursday...for something.

It's bad, really. Because I had already resolved to use my Christmas money to buy something that my friends all know I really need. A ball-winder. Something to prevent my hand-winding 1400 yards of lace-weight yarn. In fact, I really need a ball-winder and a swift, so I don't have to keep guilting friends and loved ones into holding my untwisted hank of yarn while I hand-wind it (sometimes for several hours).

I didn't get a ball winder.

Instead, I got more sweater yarn. But that isn't what this story is about. This story is about Yankee.

Just a disclaimer--that isn't really him.

Yankee is a stealth-mouse. He would never let me take his picture. That would be un-mouse-like of him.

He thrives on danger, like 007. Only he's a mouse.

Let's go back a few steps, shall we?

Mom and I were driving up to Knitting Off Broadway, a lovely Fort Wayne yarn store that has tons of sock yarn. Tons. Not the point. We were driving.

I threw my cell phone and iPod in the cup holder I use primarily to hold my cell phone and my iPod, rather than beverages. Then I shot my hand back out and retrieved them.

"I have a mouse in my car," I announced.

"No," Mom replied. "Those are too perfect. They're all the same size. They have to be chocolate sprinkles."

1. I hate chocolate sprinkles 2. I hate icing 3. I would never eat either of those things 4. I certainly wouldn't do it in my fancy new car and 5. I never have passengers and 6. even if I did, I wouldn't let them eat chocolate-sprinkle-covered anything in my car.

I related these points to Mom.

Then I added the clincher.

"They weren't here yesterday."

Mom fell silent.

"A mouse doodled in my car," I said. "Right in my cup holder, like a giant mouse latrine."

Mom did what moms do, using a Kleenex to gather up and dispose of the Mouse Doodles, shoving them in the now-empty car Kleenex box.

We went to Fort Wayne.

We--well, I--bought yarn.

And we went home.

"I can't believe a mouse came in and doodled all over my car!" I proclaimed.

"He doodled," Mom said. "So his name should be Yankee."

Oh.

There.

It just happened.

Did you feel it?

Yankee the Mouse just became one of God's perfect little woodland creatures, the kind that show up during Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty to sing with the princesses, the kind that only evil, heartless step-mothers and the devil himself would harm.

In short, that one phrase made Yankee a person.

You don't just go around killing people.

I went to the hardware store in North Manchester and surveyed the mouse-control products. I saw poison, neck snapping devices, and worst of all, the glue traps that cement mice to the inner surface, leaving you to kill them yourself, let them starve, or rip off their little-mousie legs when you try to free them.

If I did any of those things to Yankee, I would really have earned my place in hell. In fact, I would have just bought myself a lifetime, non-transferable pass to Hell, the kind with the capitol letter, the kind that you can't get out of no matter how nice you are. The Brethren Hell, the one I learned about as a wide-eyed child in Sunday school, where you go when you don't listen to your parents and give other people your toys and let the kids in your class break your new crayons. The kind where you spend forever and ever, the kind of time it would take a sparrow to pick apart Mt. Everest one grain of sand at a time, moving it back and forth forever.

If I hurt Yankee, I was going to Bad Girl Hell, and I was probably going to cry like I did the time I hit that bunny on my way home from Manchester College, the little Flopsy Bunny, the innocent one with its little cotton tail that was going home to feed his or her kids, kids that would now starve, wondering even in their last moments why Mommy or Daddy hadn't come home, even though they'd promised they would.

This was Big Time Hell, Bad Girl Evil Failure Stupid Pointless Person Hell, and the guilt I would be saddled with after killing Yankee would follow me for my entire life, shortening it by an average of 5 years.

No way was I killing Yankee, I resolved. Then I noticed: the live capture traps.

"No Poison!" They proclaimed. "Humane Mouse Traps!"

I bought them.

I smeared peanut butter inside.

Then I placed them carefully inside my car and addressed the empty seats.

"Yankee," I said. "I know the car ride was scary, but if you come have some peanut butter, I'll take you somewhere safe where you can live." I balanced the little trap so that its little door stayed open. Yankee's weight would make it tip and close the lit tightly behind him. "I know you didn't mean to get stuck in here. I'll take good care of you. Don't worry."

And then I ran my cat and dog through the car, so it would smell all predatory, making him want to leave of his own volition.

So far, there has been no second sighting of Yankee's doodles. I think he abandoned ship on his own, because my peanut butter trap is intact. I hope he's okay.

I wish he would have had some peanut butter before he left. It's cold outside.

He needs the protein to stay warm in his tiny mousie fur coat.

Blog Note

Due to yet another freaky-monster-computer posting Goodness-Knows-What in the comments of the blog, I am doing what Jen has on her blog, as a preventative measure.

Therefore, you will be prompted to type in an annoying letter combo before your comment posts, so I know you are alive and have a soul, as opposed to your being a money-hungry-computer in some third-world country.

Or in our country, for that matter.

Are we supposed to say third-world? It kind of seems like one of those phrases that ought to have been retired after the Cold War. It's mean, if you think about it...

So I'm self-editing. The money-hungry-computer is now in a not-quite-as-developed-as-we-are-but-with-its-own-distinct-assets-we-capitalist-pigs-can't-appreciate country.

Is that better?

I hope so.

Sorry to make you all work harder, but I really am sick and tired of getting all happy about the comments and finding that it's just a link designed to steal my identity. Or yours.
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