Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I Forgot the Question

I almost forgot that after I do my Alphabet Soup, I open up the floor for questions.

Ask me anything!

I may not answer everything, but I'll give it a shot.

I've been doing a lot of xmas knitting!

I've made a Thermis for T's teacher...

And one for D2's teacher as well...

T2's class adopted a family for xmas and I made hats for the three-year-old boy....

And baby hats for the 3 month old twins (one boy, one girl)....

(D2's class also adopted a family but they said no handmades, so they got a grocery card.)

All that is from this month. I still need to crank out a scarf for my teacher in my 80 speed class.

Yes, that's right....

If the boys' teachers get gifts, so do mine.

Made all this stuff last month....

I made these Fetching's for the teacher I had for Theory I and II....

I made this hat for my current English teacher (English II)

(That's me modeling it, my English teacher is a bald man.)

Made this bookmark for my English I teacher (actually, I made this back in... October?)...

Made these candy cane ornaments for the boys...

What does this mean for my studies? It means I'm a slacker.

BUT - I'm already ahead of the game.

I'm going to explain how my school works.
Once you're out of Theory II, the next quarter is Theory III. Well, that's what it used to be called. Now it's called 80 Speed Class.

For each speed, you have to pass 6 Tests: 2 Jury Charge (JC), 2 Lit, 2 QA (like you would hear in a trial. Lawyer asks question, Witness answers.) You get a test every day - a week of JC, a week of Lit, a week of QA, rinse, repeat.

If you pass 2 JC in 80 speed, you sign in to two classes - 100 Speed and 80 Speed.

I was in 100 class for JC Week and QA Week but I had to go to 80 speed class until I passed that final (second) 80 Lit.

The quarter is 12 weeks long and you have the whole quarter to pass a speed. Sometimes it takes people 2 or 3 quarters to get through a speed (I hear most people get stuck around 120/140)

And for those who have NO idea what I'm talking about...
I went back to school in April. I'm going to a school for Court Reporting, also called Stenography. Can also get a job in Captioning.

You have to reach a speed of 225 words per minute to graduate. (Not a typo - two hundred twenty five words per minute.)

As I said, I started this quarter in the 80 Speed class, and at week 9 I had completed all the tests!

Now I'm a complete failure again in the 100 Speed class! Woot woot!

So, yes, I am slacking a bit.

When I first got to 80 Speed, I was all - motherfucker! I'll never get this speed! Then it seemed a bit more manageable, then doable, then I did it! Now I'm at square one again in 100 Speed (motherfucker! I'll never get this speed!) and I am resigned to the fact that I will be passing no more tests this quarter and that bugs me, but then I remind myself that I'm actually a few weeks ahead of the game!

Looking forward to your questions!

Hope your xmas knitting is going well, Ruth!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fair Warning

I've had so many wonderful responses to my last post. I've had comments on the last post and many private emails sent to me about it. I am happy if it helps and saddened if it happened to you, too.

I'm sure most of you are aware that my last post was prompted by the headlines lately.

I read the entire Grand Jury charge regarding Sandusky.

There's so many things about this that makes me so angry, I hardly no where to begin.

The Jury charge says that an assistant SAW Sandusky raping an unidentified boy in the Penn State shower room. The assistant testified that the boy made eye contact with him, that Sandusky made eye contact with him, and that he (the assistant) then turned around and walked out. In the indictment, he says he went home and told his dad and they waited until the following morning to go to the police.

Oh. Wait. Not the police. They went and told the head coach, Joe Paterno. And the coverups either commenced or continued.

Now this assistant is claiming he stopped the abuse he witnessed. He didn't say that to the grand jury but now that his name is out there, he's saying he did. And he still says he didn't stop it physically, but he did stop it before he left the building.

What. The. Fuck.

How do you see that and not pull that man off that boy and beat him to death. How do you SEE that the child sees you and yet you do nothing?

I can only imagine that child seeing another person in the shower room and having that split second of hope that this person will HELP them. And when that doesn't happen, he still has a hope that when that witness leaves, he's leaving to go get help. And then that help never comes. Ever.

Can you imagine what that does to a child's sense of the world and how it works?

I keep picturing my own boys. I picture how little D2 is at his current 8 years of age. I picture T at his ten years of age and how he's tall but he's so thin and so emotionally sensitive. And I picture grown men and how large they are. I can't help but picture the physical size differential between them and it makes me cry every time.

The indictment has so many other things that boggle me.

Like how one of the victims told their mom and the mom went to the police. The police wired her and she confronted Sandusky. He admitted to showering with the boy and said, "That was probably wrong." (Fuuuuuuu) The cops took that recording and confronted Sandusky and he admitted to being the man on the tape and they put him in jail.

Oh. Wait. No.

They told him not to shower with children anymore.

Oh. OK! I won't!

Then there's the janitor who also witnessed Sandusky assaulting a child in the showers; performing oral sex on the boy. He DID make sure Sandusky stopped. He told a few co-workers and also his boss. His boss said the janitor was so upset that the boss feared for his life - thought the man was going to have a heart attack. The boss told the man that it was up to him and his conscious to do whatever he thought was best.

No cops were called. The janitor was too afraid of losing his job to make the call. He died a few years later and the grand jury testimony is from his boss and co-workers.

Another section of the indictment, if I'm reading it correctly, says that an ADA was going to go ahead and press charges against Sandusky but the Penn State CAMPUS COPS told him not to, so the ADA didn't. [My head explodes right about here.]

And, as an aside, can I just say how irritated it makes me to hear it called "assault"? The child was assaulted. It's like they are trying to make it PC. It's rape. Call it what it is. There was no one to soften the blow when these people were raped, why should we make it easier for other's to hear about it now?

There's been all kinds of debate on how Penn State put football before the welfare of children. It's not even a debate anymore, really; it's clear to most people that that is what occurred. I think the real question is how far up and how many people were complicit in this coverup.

Fair warning means that if anyone had any idea that Sandusky was such a predator, he should have been kept away from children. Barring that, spread the word so that he doesn't get a chance to get at anyone else. The investigations on this animal started in early 2000. Nothing of any significance was done and he had another ELEVEN YEARS of access to keep ruining children.

Oh. Wait. He was told by the police to never shower with children again. Let's not forget that!

Sandusky's wife is just now coming forward in his defense. I believe the only reason she's coming forward at all is to cover her own ass, since now she's named specifically in the new indictment that was just released where 2 other victims have given testimony. A new victim has testified before a grand jury that he screamed for help while Sandusky was raping him in the basement of the Sandusky home. The victim says he knew the wife was home but no one came to help him.

She says that no one was ever forced to stay in their basement. The thing is, no one had to force them. They are children and by their nature, they generally do as they are told. Especially when a they are a guest in someone else's home. Especially when they have no idea they are going to be raped.

And even the parents have to be more aware. I feel as though I'll get some flack for this but it's true. If you are allowing your child to stay overnight with an adult, shouldn't you damn sure educate your child about what to do if that trusted adult makes advances of any kind? Educate them about what is appropriate and what's not. Let them know they can tell you if something happens and if they aren't comfortable telling you, that they should tell SOMEone.

When we lived in Parker, our kids stayed the night at their friend's house a couple of times. The third time, when we went to pick them up, there was some random man there and the single dad who lived in that house wasn't there. The random man told us his name and said the single dad wasn't there. This random man didn't explain who he was in relation to the family or where the single dad went. We never let our kids stay there again.

We took these headlines as an opportunity to educate our boys. We'd been watching most of the ESPN coverage of it all and the boys were watching with us. We sat them down and explained (in age appropriate language) what it was we were seeing. We talked to them about what was appropriate touch and what was not. We told them that if ANYone touched them in a way that made them feel uncomfortable, they were to tell us immediately. Even if that person threatened them (or us) or offered gifts or whatever. We told them that if the person were a stranger, a well-known friend, or a loved one, it didn't matter. We went over strategies to get away and when and how to get help.

Sandusky took some of these kids out of state and then told them if they didn't comply with his sick needs he'd leave them there. We told our kids that no matter where they were, all they'd have to do is call and we will come get them.

Parents need to take these steps with their kids. They need to sit them down and talk to them. I had a friend say it was too weird and uncomfortable to talk about things like that with her children and I pointed out, "How uncomfortable and weird are you going to feel if something happens to them because you didn't talk to them about it?" Parents need to be aware of who they are with and most importantly they need to take notice if their child comes back changed.

When I was going through the worst of it during Very Bad Things Part II (or whatever I was calling it), I changed. Materially. Noticeably. I stopped talking. I was the most out-going, gregarious kid and I suddenly stopped talking entirely. I was so traumatized that I started stuttering badly, so I stopped talking all together. A teacher at my school noticed the stutter and sent me to the school's speech therapist and she gave me a couple tricks that helped.

My parents never noticed.

I stopped talking for nearly 6 months and my parents never noticed.

I remember, one time, my mom was lovingly laughing at me and said, "Honey, slow down. You are so smart and your brain wants to do so many things and tell me so many things, that your mouth sometimes can't keep up!"

We need to follow our instincts and teach our kids to follow theirs as well. One of the private emails I received was from an online friend. She asked not to be revealed but said I could use her email as an example if I wanted to.

She told me how her sister called last minute and wanted to bring some random man to the Thanksgiving dinner. She asked her sister why the man wasn't having dinner with his own family and the sister hemmed and hawed and wouldn't be up front about anything. So my friend told her sister No. Later, her mom told her that that man was in jail. She finally got it out of her mom that he was in trouble for molesting his step-daughter. My friend was furious at her sister for nearly endangering her own children but she should feel good that she followed her instincts - even at the expense of causing bad blood with her own blood.

Don't get me wrong. I am in no way blaming the parents of these kids. The fact is, guys like Sandusky (and Bernie Fine and, as of today, longtime Amateur Athletic Union president Robert Dodd) are masters of disguise and manipulation. They seem like wonderful, altruistic men who only want to help less fortunate children. In reality, they are animals seeking prey.

And how fucking predatory do you have to be to start a charity that gives you access to your specific target prey? Dear god.

Wishing I believed in Hell, Ruth!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Open Letter to a Friend

I think y'all know how much I hate when I first meet someone and they tell me their life story, all their ailments, and various other overshares within the first five minutes of meeting them. If this is your first time at this blog, please go read some of my tasty Alphabet Soup or something. Trust me.

This is another entirely too long post (seriously, we're talking novel length here) but I want to say something to a friend and her letter, for the rest of y'all, will need some back story. The letter is to my friend but I think it's something that needs to be said to everyone, so I'm putting it here. I've changed some details about my friend (including her name) to keep her as anonymous as I know she would want to be in this.

In the past, I've mentioned that I've had Very Bad Things happen to me. I've often said I would talk about it sometime and I think now's as good a time as any. I've had this letter in my head for a long time as well.

First, Back story (get a snack)....

Statistically, 1 out of 4 women will be messed with before the age of 18. Over half go unreported, so I'd say that statistic is a bit shy of the truth.

I got messed with by three different people before I was in 6th grade.

Very Bad Things - The First Time.
The first time, I was 4 years old. My parents used to hang out with this 4WD club and the main couple they hung out with had a son. I loved the wife of that couple. She made me the cutest little sun hat. It was reversible with white on one side and light blue with little white hippos on the other. One night the 4 adults went out on the town and they had that couple's son babysit us. His name was Jay and he was about 15 or 16.

When he came to put me to bed, he lay down next to me on the bed. He pulled his pants and underwear down and masturbated. He tried to put my hand under his, but I pulled it away. He came on his stomach and then he dipped his finger in it and tried to make me taste it. I didn't want to because it smelled weird and I resisted. He tried to talk me into it saying it tasted just like milk, "You like milk, right?" I lied and said I didn't. I remember feeling enormous guilt for lying since milk was (and still is) my favorite drink. He told me it wasn't bad and tasted it himself. I still wouldn't taste it but he got another finger full and shoved his finger into my mouth anyway.

Just about then, my brother, John - who must've been wondering what was taking so long - popped his head in the door and said, "What're you guys doing?" in an innocent 6 year-old's way, as in, "Are you doing something fun, can I play?" Jay yelled at him, "Get out! I'll take care of you in a minute." John closed the door and took off. Up until Jay yelled at John, I wasn't scared. I was confused and uncomfortable, but not scared. The way he said he'd "take care" of John scared me. After John left, Jay stood up, pulled up his pants, tucked me in like nothing happened, and left the room.

I don't think he did anything to John. I don't know if John told my mom but we never saw that kid again. I never knew if my mom knew anything about it. Even if she had known, in the '70's when I was kid, you didn't report things to the police and you didn't talk about it. You certainly weren't sent to therapy about it. You were told it wasn't your fault and it wouldn't happen again and it was best to just try to forget the whole thing.

Very Bad Things - The Second Time.

Not going to cover this one today. I'll give my usual euphemism that the 13 year old boy next door took a rather unnatural interest in me for 2 years, starting when I was 8. I'll talk about this in detail another day.

Very Bad Things - The Third Time.

This is the one that concerns the letter and my friend.

In 4th grade, my parents decided we should go to the private church school. Long backstory here that we'll skip except to say that they were so small they kept falling apart. In 5th grade, it was even smaller and after xmas break that year, we went back to public school (YAY!). During our stint in jail, um.. I mean, private school, both my parents worked and so after school, we stayed at the houses of other kids' families until our parents could pick us up. It's not as random as it sounds; it was prearranged and every one was pretty happy with the set-up.

For awhile when I was in 5th grade, we would stay with Debbie Canfield's family. Debbie was my brother's girlfriend and her younger brother (Jack?) was a year or two younger then me. The four of us would be picked up by Debbie and Jack's grandma. We would hang out at their grandparent's house, running around like crazy people, until our parents would pick up John and me.

Debbie's gpa used to sit in the dark in a front room of the house, watching TV. One time he said to me, "Come give gpa a kiss." He'd just said it to Debbie and she ran in and gave him a peck on the cheek and took off. I followed suit but when I went to kiss his cheek, he turned his head and kissed me on the mouth. This happened a few days in a row and about the third day, he shoved his tongue in my mouth. I was 11 and very sheltered. I'd never heard of a French kiss and didn't know what he was doing. I just thought he kissed weird and clenched my teeth so his tongue couldn't get past them, but I pretty much avoided him after that.

The gparents had an RV in their backyard. I'd never been inside an RV before so I always wanted to go in and check it out but Debbie's gma would never let us, "it's not a toy." One day, we were running around in the back yard playing tag and I heard someone whisper to me. It was Debbie's gpa and he was at the back of the RV signalling to me to come over. I'd never seen him out of his chair, much less outside, so I went over. He said he would show me the inside of the RV if I wanted to see it. I got a weird vibe with him being outside and whispering and all, so I shouted to Debbie, "Hey Debbie, we get to go in!" She was in the garage and didn't hear me. He shushed me and said, "She's already seen it." Then he opened up the RV and ushered me in.

He entered after me and locked the door behind him. I'd never been in an RV before and marveled at the tiny kitchen and other cool things about it. It was one of those long ones with everything in a hallway setting and the bed at the far end. The bed section was raised, the kind that goes over the bed of the truck pulling it. Mr. Canfield lifted me up on the bed so I was sitting on the edge with my legs dangling off. He asked me to get his Bible (being the good Christian he is, dontcha know). It was on a shelf behind a little curtain on the other side of the bed. I twisted around and got it and when I straightened back up, he was standing right in front of me, between my legs. He slid his hands up my shirt and over my brand-new training bra. He stood just like that - motionless save for the shaking of his trembling hands - for several minutes. An eternity. His eyes were half closed and his mouth half open. A string of drool dropped from his mouth and I moved my leg to avoid it hitting me. That movement seemed to wake him up and he removed his hands.

So many things ran through my head while his hands were on my chest. There was a knife on the counter right behind him. I wondered if I could get past him and get to that knife. I wondered if I should bother with it or just make a break for the door. I wondered could I get to the door, unlock it, and get out before he got to me. I wondered if I did get the knife, would he be able to get it away from me. I never once wondered whether I'd be able to stab him or not. I knew that if I got that knife, I would twist in his gut or shove it in his eye without hesitation (although he was so much taller than me, that I doubt I could've reached his eye).

After he removed his hands, he lifted me down and told me to go and play. His pants were sticking out and I walked to the door and left him in there. I wouldn't run. I forced myself to walk. My hands were shaking uncontrollably and I had a hard time with the lock, but I did it and I left.

I immediately found Debbie and told her what happened. As soon as I started telling her, I began to cry. She raised her voice and said, "NO!" I thought she didn't believe me so I tried to stop crying and walk away. She grabbed me and said, "We have to tell Gma." It was my turn to be horrified and cry out NO. She said she believed me but we had to tell Gma right away. I begged her not to. I was crying again and she said that she would tell her but I had to be there. We went into the house.

The way the house was situated, the living room was separated from the kitchen by an archway opening. Her gma was washing dishes and I can imagine what she saw when Debbie said she had to tell her something. I imagine Mrs. Canfield turning from the sink of dishwater and seeing a very pissed-off Debbie standing in the archway holding my hand. The only part of me her gma could see was my hand and part of my forearm. I was standing outside the archway so she couldn't see me, standing with my face to the wall, trying to disappear.

Debbie said, "He touched her." Here's where Debbie stopped talking and started shouting at her grandmother, "He promised he would NEVER do that again but he took Ruth into the RV and he touched her." I heard a dish break as it fell from Mrs. Canfield's hands and I tried harder to melt into the wall. My whole body was on fire and I couldn't get my hand from Debbie's. She held my hand gently but tightly, never letting go. Gma rushed past us like a bull and out the back door, screaming his name.

Debbie took me to the garage where our brothers were. Debbie sat me down and told me how her grandfather had messed with her and her female cousin. That's when I realized that her crying out "no" meant something very different than what I had originally thought. I was devastated. I felt so bad for her. I had no idea people would molest their own grandchildren. I felt like I was going to throw up.

The 4 of us kids huddled together until my parents showed up and John and I left.

I told my mom what happened. After Very Bad Things - The Second Time (which I know she knew about and had helped make sure it stopped), I expected a very different reaction from her. My dad was on a business trip in the back country (he measured water up in mountains for the power company) and she felt she didn't have a lot of options. She said, "I need you to go there after school tomorrow." She had to see the look of horror on my face and I know she heard me emphatically say, "No!!" She said, "I can't take the time off and there's no place else for you to go after school. I know it's awful but he won't come near you and I just need you to be my brave girl for a day or two." She promised me he wouldn't even be at the house and since I had no choice...

The next day, not only was Mr. Canfield at the house, but he was the one who picked us up from school. Something he had never done before. We used to fight over the front seat but that day, all four of us squeezed into the back. I remember seeing him and him looking at me with rage in his eyes. I couldn't take it and looked down at my feet. I knew in my heart, I would never look up again.

When we got to their house, we hung out in the back yard, but this slug of a man who rarely moved from his chair, suddenly had a bunch of yard work to do. My brother suggested we go for a walk. We weren't allowed to ever leave the yard (they didn't live in the best neighborhood) but we left anyway. We walked and walked, all four of us, trudging along in the heat of the day, silent. John tried to talk and joke a bit but I was a silent black cloud and it didn't work.

Finally, we stopped. I'd been looking down and had no idea where we were. I remember we stopped near a big wooden fence and a main road with a lot of traffic going by. John had had enough. He tried to tilt my chin up but I pulled my face away. He did it again and, again, I pulled away. He did it a third time but wouldn't let me off the hook. Even so, I wouldn't look him in the eye. He kept moving his face to look in my eyes and I kept looking away until I finally looked up at him and glared. He said, "There you are. I knew you were still in there." I glared at him still but remained silent.

John was instrumental in getting Very Bad Things - The Second Time to stop. He knew me like no one else and I think he knew the fact that I was silent and not looking up was something that could become permanent if he didn't do something.

Holding my chin up the whole time, he told me this:
Ruth, that man is old and weak. He did something that was bad. He touched you but he could never, EVER touch who you are inside. If you change, he wins. You can be mad and hurt, you can even be scared, but you can't let him win. I know who you are. I see you in there. And I don't ever want to see you looking down anymore.

John was 13 years old when he told me that. It broke my silence forever. I cried, not loud or anything, but I cried. Debbie started crying, too, and took my hand. We all held hands and went back to the house. We stayed in the yard and when the slug came outside again, I looked him in the eye and said, "Go back to your chair and stay there." He glared at me but I didn't look away and he went inside.

The next day, my mom had arranged for us to go elsewhere and I never saw the slug again.

Like I already said, when I was a kid, families didn't report this stuff to the police and you didn't talk about it afterward. The thing is, if someone had reported that man, or even told my parents, he would have never had access to me. He wouldn't have had a chance to prey on someone else. It's all about Fair Warning.

And now, my letter....

Dear Renee,
We were having a conversation awhile ago about our busy live. You are so busy and so organized and put together, I was asking how you do it all. You said, "Prozac." I thought you were joking and laughed but you said, "I'm serious. Without Prozac, I have panic attacks and can't function."

I said, "Wow, that's some pretty heavy duty stuff! How'd you get started on that?" You told me that you were molested for 7 years and when you finally went to therapy about it, the Dr. gave you Prozac.

I was stunned! We'd known each other for a couple of years and being such a close friend, you knew about my Very Bad Things but never said anything about yours before. I said, "7 years?! Holy shit! Who did that to you?" You told me that was something you would take to your grave. I ruminated to myself, "Well, it had to be family member." I didn't realize I'd said it out loud but I must've because you laughed and said, "Well, I'm not gonna play 20 questions about it." I said, "Of course, I'm sorry!" and then our conversation went elsewhere.

I can't stop thinking about it and about Mr. Canfield. I know you grew up with a LOT of family. There were three siblings of your parents, with 4 or 5 kids each, and you all lived on the same block. So all these siblings and aunts, uncles, cousins, were all floating in and out of each other's houses all day, every day.

I know you are one of the "good" kids and I can only imagine how alone you must've felt during all those years of abuse. I don't have any confirmation that it was a family member but for it to have gone on as long as it did, it had to be someone who had a lot of access, so either family or church since your family was always there as well.

I know it was a long time ago. You and I are in our 40's and this happened when you were a child. The thing is, people that do that sort of thing are wired differently and they don't stop. They can't. If that person is still alive, they are still on the hunt for a new child, another child. It's a matter of fair warning. I'm not saying you have to turn them in to the police, although that would be ideal. At our age and with the laws back then, you are likely past any statute of limitations on that anyway. I'm saying that if this person is alive and seeing nieces, nephews, grandchildren, or any other kids in any capacity, and no one knows, they are still looking for a way to get those children alone.

They never stop, Renee. They NEVER stop. Not unless someone makes them stop. I know it's a scary burden to be the one who makes that happen, but I also know you can do it.

When you were a child, that person told you something or threatened you in a way that scared you and scarred you and kept you silent all these years about who it was. Renee, you are not that scared child anymore. They can't hurt you anymore.

Again, for that person to have that much access to hurt you for that long, it had to be someone your family was close to. Someone they loved and trusted. If you tell, this is what's going to happen...

People in your family will be furious. They will revile you and call you a liar. They will talk about you behind your back, about how you always were prone to drama and making up stories. They will hate you and some will never speak to you again. Some of the one's you thought you were closest too and loved you the best, will turn on you. I promise this will happen. But I also promise, I can guarantee with absolute certainty, that at least one other family member will come up to you and quietly whisper, "me too."

And the ones that hate you forever.... I also guarantee that if your abuser is still alive, even that abuser's staunchest supporter will suddenly find reasons not to leave that person alone with children anymore. They may not even realize they are doing it but they will keep those kids safer. And that's why it has to be done.

If your abuser is dead, you may feel there's no reason to do it, but there is. It wouldn't be a matter of keeping kids safe now; it would be a matter of that one other family member who also feels like they are the only one. Even if they never came forward, statistically, they are out there and maybe their panic attacks would be a little less frequent if they knew it wasn't just them. They will see the strength it took you to come forward and maybe it will give them the strength to also come forward or at least to seek the help and therapy they never felt they could get before.

I doubt you will ever take the step and no one will judge you if you don't. I'm asking you to think about it. I'm asking you to try.

Holding your hand and tilting your chin up, Ruth!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Z is for Zombie

My SEAL friend and I have the same twisted Apocalypse attitude. We are stocked up on food and guns and ammo and have exit plans.

He feels when the shit goes down, it will be through a rebellion of people that will end in anarchy and civil war.

I know it will be zombies.

I have this unnatural love for all things zombie.

My favorite zombie movies are:
Shaun of the Dead
Night of the Living Dead (the first one)
28 Days Later
(although, with 28 Days Later, my question is always, why don't the infected attack each other? They only seem to go after the uninfected!)

I was lucky enough to receive the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in a swap but haven't had a chance to read it yet. (On the book front, I'm listening to the 3rd of the Dragon Tattoo series on my commute and am reading the 2nd book of Guillermo Del Toro's vampire series The Strain - loving them both!)

Can't get enough of the show The Walking Dead.

I want so badly to start a zombie swap on Ravelry, but I fear I don't have enough time to properly moderate it. Also, I want to do it around Easter because, you know, Jesus is the ultimate zombie, but I fear that will be too offensive for the delicate and I don't want to put up with a bunch of foofaraw and drama. What do you think?

Speaking of zombies, my little guy dressed as a zombie skeleton for Halloween...

T, like last year, wanted me to make a costume for him but what he picked was too big to wear to school so we, last minute, went and let him choose a purchased costume. He chose a hot dog. Here's a pic of D2 pretending to eat him....
After this picture, D2 said, "I'm going to eat you and then I'm going to throw up, Bleagh [pretends to throw up]." I would've smacked him for being a brat but I was laughing too hard.

Here's what T actually wanted to be...

You can see the minivan in the background for scale. People either had no idea what he was or knew he was PacMan and would give him extra candy for it! We even did the Dots for PacMan to eat.

We used a pre-colored tri-fold cardboard thing (for science fairs) from Michael's for $5 each, 2 of them, then strong floral wire and Styrofoam balls for the dots. All total, about $12 dollars. We made sandwich board suspenders out of old belts and duct tape. Likewise the duct tape for attaching the dots.

The neighborhood we went for trick-or-treating has a LOT of stairs. T was a trooper! The other kids we were with were about ten blocks ahead of us but I stayed behind with T and we had a great time! D2 was with his friends and some other moms.

D2 hit way more houses but, as I said, T was getting extra for the cool costume. All told, they ended up with about ten pounds of candy.

As usual, Dave and I exacted our "Candy Tax". We tell the kids, "We bought/made your costume, drove you to the trick-or-treating, and drove you home. We get first pick! Candy Tax!"

As for other costumes, the coolest one I saw was a girl in a wheelchair and a Cat in the Hat costume and her parents made her wheelchair into the Cat in the Hat's clean-up car! The worst costume I saw was a teenager in an olive green old-style Army jacket with a baby bjorn holding a fake baby. I asked what he was and he said he was a Veteran and held up the cardboard sign that was part of his costume: "Family killed in WWII, need candy to survive." Wow. That's jacked up.

That ten pounds of candy will look great on my ass, Ruth!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Y is for Yack

GAH! I can't believe it's been over a month since I last posted! Looks like Alphabet Soup really IS going to take all year this time. I've had in mind what I was going to post for Y and for Z for over 3 months now! There's been additions to Y so it's pretty long. I'm posting this today and Z tomorrow and then I have a LOT of other things I want to talk about. But for now....

This post actually started on...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - I get a call from the school nurse at 9am that D2 has thrown up in the gym.

D2 got sick "7 times" when he had the bug. He even threw up in Dave's truck (in a plastic bag the smart school nurse gave him) after Dave picked him up from school. The funny thing is, D2 threw up BEFORE school and told Dave about it. Dave asked how he felt and he said fine, so Dave sent him off to school. If you've been here awhile, you know that D2 has a puking problem. Not so much anymore, he's pretty much grown out of it, but that kid used to puke ALL the time. Got a little cough, D2? Blech. Is it Tuesday, D2? Blech. So it was no big deal.

This time, he really did have a stomach bug and he counted how many times he puked from 8a until I came home at 2:30p. But by that evening, he was fine and running around like his usual crazy little self.

That was Tuesday.

Thursday, I barely made it home from school. I had a nauseous feeling all day and once I got home it started. It was a tsunami and I haven't had a stomach flu in, literally, 30 years. I thought I was going to die. I emptied my stomach and then I emptied my liver, and after that, I heaved so much and so hard that my stomach AND my back hurt.

I made the mistake of trying to eat a saltine cracker and it flipped me off as it came back out. Salty little bastard.

My illness lasted a bit longer then D2's. I was down for the count all weekend. It was right before my break for school and if you read the last post, you'll remember I had all these really productive plans. Didn't quite work out that way.

When September ended, I felt I was being gas-lighted. I never get sick, you see, and I spent most of September and half of October just knocked the fuck out with illness. I had a nasty cold. I got that damn stomach mess. Then I got T's cough. It lasted, like, 100 days. Then Dave got that cough and he's STILL getting rid of it!

My break was spent in bed. Watched a ton of movies, though! Lots of fluff, so I don't remember too many of them. Eat, Love, Pray was very good. Buitiful - not misspelled, it's a foreign flick starring Javier Bardem - deadly boring but at least it was long and depressing. And subtitled. Arthur - the new one with Russell Brand - total mindless fluff but mildly entertaining. The Warrior's Way - LOVED this one!

All these movies, Dave wouldn't watch with me. He was a champ with the stomach flu thing (mine, happily it passed him by without even a glance). He made me tea and soup and went to the store for ginger ale. Later (much later - 10p), went to the all night pharmacy to see if there was any anti nausea med's he could get me (Alka Seltzer really helped!). He even asked the pharmacist if I should go to the hospital (he hates talking to strangers, he barely likes talking to people he knows!) - she told him if I could keep water down, I'd be fine. He did all these things, but he wouldn't watch movies with me. Weird.

Anyway, I watched the first five minutes of The Warrior's Way and told Dave to come watch with me. He said he was watching a football game. I said for him to watch the first five and if he liked it, we could watch it later; if he didn't like it, I'd watch by myself. He saw the first five and ditched the football game he was watching!

It's very stylized (like Sin City or 300), but not all of it. It's a kung fu western movie and the main character is very quiet but there's quite a lot of poignant moments and also a lot of funny bits. I loved it and so did Dave! It's rated R and we couldn't figure out why (what little blood there is was in that stylized/animated category) until the final fight, then we were all..... ah, yes, I see.

So my week off from school was a wash.


Dave thought with all the school and work (for him and for me) and all the illness in our house, we needed a break. So....

We stayed at the Wyndham Grand Desert Condo's - 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, with kitchen, 4 nights - $280! Dave is the KING of finding great deals online. He also figured out it would be cheaper to road trip (11 hours) then to fly all four of us out there. Can anyone say..... knitting time?

We left after I got off work on Sat. and so we spent the night in a hotel in Utah. On the way, we stopped at a really great restaurant who's name I can't remember. It was overlooking a river and there was a pathway down to the river. The kids went to look at it while we waited for our food. Dave went with them first, then I hung out with them a bit. There was a wall with their shadows on it and you could see the sand they were playing with. So we started throwing sand and dropping it and doing a bunch of other silly things to see the cool shadows! Then we went to eat.

D2 ordered a corndog and ate it like corn on the cob so he mostly ate the batter part. He ate about half the hot dog part and we were teasing him about not throwing up. He's had issues with hot dogs in the past.

After dinner, we got in the car and drove the rest of the way to the hotel in Utah. Halfway there, D2 says, "I don't feel so good." and covers his mouth. I was reaching for a plastic bag when he let loose. And that little rat didn't puke by his door. No..... he puked in the middle of the van. All over the bag of spilled library books and library DVDs. He hit the side of my knitting basket but none of it made it inside or I really would have had to kill him.

It was actually a good thing he puked in the car though. If he hadn't, we would NEVER have known we were a good 30 minutes away from the nearest exit!


After he let go, he felt fine and popped his earbuds back in and continued to watch his movie like nothing happened. Nice. I got a serious case of the giggles after he puked. It made Dave even madder but I couldn't help it. I just kept thinking that ten minutes earlier I'd commented on the skunk smell on the highway. What made it so funny for me was that all I could think of boiled down to, "Well, can't smell the skunk anymore!"

Notwishtanding the one pukey episode, we had a blast! Dave and I went to 2 timeshare presentations and got $150 in food vouchers at a bunch of different restaurants on the strip, tickets to two different shows for all four of us, a $50 visa card and a bunch of other things! The food vouchers pretty much paid for our food for the trip!

We used the $50 visa card to see the sharks and touch the stingrays at Mandalay Bay...

We saw showgirls....

One of the shows we got tickets for was the magician Nathan Burton. He's the guy who won the first America's Got Talent and he was an excellent illusionist. We had really great seats, too!

We took the kids to see the fountains at the Bellagio and went in to see the artwork. I have this picture of the first time Dave and I went to Vegas together (1999ish) - we are on the big staircase inside the Bellagio and the Van Gogh painting is at the top of the stairs behind us. Not only do they no longer have that Van Gogh, they no longer even have that huge staircase! And the art gallery they do have is $25 per person. It would've been free for the boys but Dave wouldn't let me send them in alone.

They had another gallery featuring the sculptures of a man who uses Cirque de sol performers as models. It was Trevor's idea to see if we could mimic all the twisted body shapes....

The boys were fascinated with all the statuary. We have a bunch of pic's with them interacting with the marble but this post is already too long.

D2 is permanently banned from hot dogs, Ruth!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

X is for Xbox

I've been working on the Xbox program for 14 months now. (I work from home for a company called - they hire customer service rep's from across the nation - all working from home - for Fortune 500 companies... QWest, AARP, AAA, they just got Cigna, etc. Xbox is the biggest program they have).

Out of 1300 people, I'm ranked 138! I get pretty good scores on my QA's fairly consistently. I'm just SO glad none of the customers can see my rollin' eyes or my active middle fingers flipping off so many of them. And just to be clear, I'm not doing that for 8 hours. Most of the people I talk to are cool and it's a lot of fun! There's only about 10% that make me feel all stabby.

I've already informed my incredibly cool Team Leader (TL) that he really ought not to listen to my calls whenever I have my last day as I WILL be saying everything I've only been thinking all this time. That last day is about a year and a half in the future but I'm planning ahead. He laughs and says he'll make me take that day off. I remind him that means that the day before that will still be my last day - hah!

I'm collecting stories but I won't post any until I graduate and have another job. I'm smart like that. Oh my god the stories!

I will say this....

When I say, "May I have your name?" and you just give me your first name, I'm going to shake my head sadly, while fearing for our future and say, "Aaaaaaaaaand your last name.......?" because, seriously, do I sound psychic?

The fact that you don't pay your bill/control your children/have no idea how to work that $300 piece of machinery you purchased is not my fault. I will do my best to be patient and help you but I will not (and by our policies and MS's, don't actually have to) put up with you yelling at me. It's a video game people.... calm the fuck down.

If you start cussing me out, I will burst into laughter as I feel with all the breadth and depth of the human language, it's fucking hilarious that we ALL reduce to a select few when angry. And yes, I'm probably laughing at you but don't mean to - it just jumps out.

If you drop F-bombs or any other word grenades as part of your normal speech, I am not going to take it personally or get offended. As long as it's not directed at me, it doesn't bother me as I often cuss as part of my normal speech as well. Not all of my co-workers feel the same way. They don't have to put up with it and can absolutely end the call if they feel the need.

Likewise, you don't have to keep telling me that you are upset and for me to not take it personally. I don't. It's a machine that plays pretend games. Why would I ever take anything involving that personally?

And for the love of pickles, please STOP apologizing for "bothering" me. My sole purpose for talking to you on the phone at that moment is to help you with whatever xbox issues you may have. If y'all didn't call with questions, I wouldn't have a job.

I am still a freak magnet. I have the team record for the most prank calls in a single shift. 12 in one 8 hour period. These people will wait on hold for.... up to 45 minutes on busy nights JUST to prank! So weak. And the calls are ALWAYS the same 3 or 4 "jokes".

If you prank call me, I'm going to sigh obviously and heavily and mutter sadly and out-loud-but-as-if-to-myself, "There's just NO imagination anymore" before I proceed to make you feel REALLY silly for prank calling. I will not get in trouble for this. We have a script to follow and I rarely follow it but I'm diplomatic and at the end of the script, we are allowed to hang up on you and I will do just that.

Most pranks are kids. I can tell because they start giggling. I always end those quickly by saying, "Awwww. Don't start laughing! If you start laughing, it's going to mess up the whole joke!" Then they can't help themselves and giggle uncontrollably before they just hang up.

A surprising amount of pranks are, in fact, adults. And always male. If there's any guys who read my blog, I feel sorry about this but it's true. I've never had a female prank caller. Shocker.

I'm going to tell one story. I hope it doesn't get me in trouble but here it is....
I had this prank call with 2 adult males on the phone - both talking at the same time on separate extentions/handsets/whatever. They said whatever stupid, silly shit they were going to say and I said in a bright, cheery voice, "All right guys, this has been fun but I'm going to have to let you go now...." and one of them said to me, "You're a stupid cunt."

I burst out laughing and said, "That may be, sir, but you're a grown man making a prank call, 3 o'clock on a Monday afternoon with his friend. I still win."

He hung up on me! Can you believe it?!

Maybe not winning, but still slightly ahead, Ruth!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

W is for Win

I joined the So You Think You Can Dance group on Ravelry. They have a pool where you are randomly assigned 2 dancers (one male, one female) and whichever dancer wins, the others in your group have to send you gifts equaling $15-$20! Anyone can join (as long as you're willing to lose!) and the players are split into groups of ten, so whoever wins - the other nine have to send gifties.

Last season my male dancer came in second place. So close!

This season, my dancer won! Both my male and female dancers were solid and amazing. They were paired together from the start and they were super-stars! If you watched the show, I got Melanie and Marko. As good as Marko is, I knew a female was going to win and that it would be between Sasha and Melanie. I thought sure Sasha had it in the bag and I was going to get second place again but Melanie won!

In this Rav pool, if you win, you get to ask for what you'd like. I said I was going to make it really easy on everyone and I just wanted gift certificates to Webs. I want to make the Saffron Cables blanket and I have had my eye on the Amherst yarn to make it but it'll take 17 balls! I thought with these g.c.'s, it'd be plenty to get all that yarn!

I remembered I could find more information on that yarn at Rav so I went and read the reviews. There were ten reviews and eight were bad. The consensus seems to be that it after it's knit up, it pills on contact and who wants to handwash a big ass blanket anyway? I so enjoyed working with the Berroco Vintage Bulky that I thought a washable, snuggly blanket in un-bulky Vintage would be lovely!

I'm also getting some Madelintosh Bulky in the Tart colorway - 3 skeins. My friend Donna gave me two coats she has that she knows I've been in love with since she bought them a year ago. She's so cool! One of the coats is a really pretty green color and one is black; I think this Tart will make a lovely scarf or cowl to go with both coats. I always hear about MadTosh but have never actually tried it. This yarn is backordered so it'll be like getting another surprise package whenever it comes in!

I ordered 2 skeins of Lamb's Pride so I can take another shot at those bunny slippers. Wait.... I don't think I told you about those! I made these slippers and they haven't felted down enough to fit me. My friends say they will felt more but I haven't had time to test that theory. I was just going to make another pair for me and give these away. I'm still going to make another pair as a gift but it's going to be for the Monty Python swap on Rav that I'm in and I'm going to make them vicious bunny slippers!

I think I may be a bit nuts using nearly $120 worth of free yarn money to get such relatively mundane yarn (not the counting MadTosh, of course!) but I really can't think of any other stuff I want right now! Any suggestions? Any yarns from Webs that you just adore? (of course, by the time this posts, I will already have ordered my stuff - hah!)

All this talk of new yarn reminds me that my castonitis has been sort of nipped in the bud (see this year's letter T for links). Martine - the sweater I was going to make from French Girl Knits (love that book!) - is nipped because I don't hav the yarn to make it. I was going to use all this black Cascade 220 that I have but the guage is 20 sts instead of 16 and I really don't want to have to do that much math.

I have the yarn and almost the guage for Pioneer but I need to go up one needle size from US 5 to 6. I trot on over to my Knitpicks Options binder and I have ONE size six needle. SERiously?! I have looked everywhere to see if I can locate it. So far... I can't. So that one is on standstill.

That pretty much knocked the wind out of the startitis! I did cast on #77 and it's an easy pattern if you can read.... which, apparently.... I can't. I got to row 5 and skipped to row 8. Tink. Got to row 13 and at the END of the row my little lace section (a tiny 13 stitches!!) was missing a stitch - tink back 2 rows and try again. I've set it down. I've decided that this pattern will be my football pattern for this year. For the past few years, I've cast on a project during the opening kick to the first Husker game of the season. Usually it's socks, this year it's this cardigan. I like it and I want it to go faster but my gauge is nowhere near what the pattern calls for. I've been looking at others of these on Rav and I think it's going to be ok. I will know around row 40. If I have to rip the whole thing out again and start over, it's no big deal because it's my football project!

I'm also supposed to be in a KAL with some friends for these socks. I have 3 skeins of Mal Lace and short legs. They are toe up so I'm going to keep going until I run out and see where they land! Or at least I will when I can find that yarn. I've lost that, too. In my bedroom. My bedroom is like a hoarder's delight. It's got a track from the door, past my desk to my side of the bed.

Dave's side isn't much better. There's several reasons for this, laziness being at the top of the list, but when we get to the letter Y, we'll see the reason it's really gotten out of control. Stay tuned...

I have my between-quarters break from school from 9/26 - 10/3. My plan is to sleep in every day, work out every day, spend an hour cleaning the bedroom tornado I live in and if I finish that (should take 2 days), then I'll spend that hour cleaning out the garage. I'll then practice on my steno-writer until I have to go to work. Hopefully I'll find that damn US 6 needle!

Living in chaos but still feeling like a winner, Ruth!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

V is for Veteran

A few months ago, I had the privilege to meet and interview some veterans.

The National Association of Court Reporters in conjunction with the Library of Congress is making an effort to record as many personal stories from our military veterans as we can get.

We've missed our opportunity with the WWI vets. The last WWI vet died earlier this year and with him went our shot at those stories. Not a single story from WWI vet was officially recorded. We have very little time to get as many of the WWII vets as we can.

My school hosted a recording day. All the court reporters were ones with experience and the interviewers were students. All volunteered their time, unpaid, to make this day happen.

We had about ten veterans show up.

I was standing at the door when Eddie came in. Eddie is a WWII vet and he's so funny! He came in with his walker and his oxygen and sat down in the chairs by the door. His wife was with him as was his nurse. He looked at me and in his wheezy voice said, "I'm the guy." I smiled and said, "You're the guy?" He laughed and tapping his chest said, "I'm the guy. I'm the guy you want to talk to." Then he told me how he was one of the first off the boat at Normandy.

We led him down the hall and got him a seat. There was this entire formal opening ceremony with a high school ROTC colorguard, the singing of the National Anthem and everything! Then we split off to interview the vets.

My veteran was Philip W. He was an Air Force lifer who was Active Duty during the Korean and the Vietnam wars. I was given a sheaf of papers with questions to ask.... all about his parents/siblings/marriage and then we went on to his military life. Basic Training, AIT (where they teach you your job), and Active Duty service is asked about. (There was a surprising bent toward asking about any racism among the ranks which I thought was odd.)

Philip was adorable! He was a very snappy dresser and had the best smile! He told me all kinds of things and some of those things were very difficuly for him.

He has an enormous amount of survivor guilt. He was signing up for the Marines with his very best friend. The Marines had a waiting list of 2 months. After a month, Philip went down to the courthouse where the recruiters were to see how it was going. In the front vestibule to the building, was an Air Force recruiter who got Philip! He joined the Air Force (no waiting list!) and tried to talk his buddy into it, too, but his buddy decided to wait for the Marines. Philip didn't get shipped overseas during the Korean War but his best friend went right away and was in the first wave of infantry that got completely wiped out.

Philip was tearing up and I was trying hard not to join him. He said how he should've been there with his friend and he still, sixty years later, feels so guilty about that. It was heartbreaking.

The interview went on and one of the questions I had on my list was about pranks! Philip said he wasn't much of a prankster but he did put a ketchup soaked tampon on the pillow of a fellow soldier that had passed out one night. His face was beat red telling us about that!

He told about being in Vietnam, walking along the street and seeing a shoeshine boy blow himself up with three GI's sitting at the shoeshine booth. And he also told about how he was on the flight line the whole time (as a First Sgt.) and never went to the field. They would get about 25 mortar rounds a week lobbed at them on the flight line. One night, he heard the usual whistling sound of a mortar coming in but the actual BOOM was really muted. He went outside to see what happened to that bomb. It threaded a needle and landed inside the door of the barracks right next to his and blew up. He said it was all hands on deck trying to get people out of the rubble and save as many as they could. He said he saw a hand in the rubble and pulled on it - it was attached to an arm but nothing else. He told how this Colonel was taking pictures and not being much help. He shoved the Col. out of the way and told him to help or get the fuck out of the way. He almost got court-marshalled for that!

We talked about his life in the military and about his life after he got out. He talked about the VA and how the "shrink" there was helping him and he was finally starting to forgive himself for "abandoning" his childhood friend all those years ago.

We laughed and laughed with Philip! We cried a bit, too. He was such a great story teller! And, the best part for the court reporter, he spelled every name he mentioned, whether it was a person's name or names of the places he was stationed - brilliant!

This is an ongoing project. If you know a veteran, please let them know about it. If you are a veteran, please participate. If you are (or know) a court reporter, please volunteer your time for this wonderful event. You can make it a simple affair - no colorguard necessary - and the transcripts you make count towards your CEU's (you can do up to ten transcripts for a total CEU of 1).

It's an amazing experience. All the volunteers heard their vet say, " Wow. I've never told anyone this before." I was going to suggest that if you have a vet in your life, to sit down with a tape recorder (or whatever new-fangled equivalent you may have) and ask for their story. I don't know if that would work though. There's something about telling a stranger things that you would NEVER tell your family members (or even your friends, sometimes!). Definitely give it a shot though!

My name is now in the Library of Congress, Ruth!

U is for Unhappy

Last year, when I was volunteering in T's class, I was given a group of kids who needed help with their times tables. I was handed a stack of flash cards and we went in to the hallway to work on them. I asked the kids how they'd worked on them previously and they told me that the person helping them before would just go through card by card and they'd try to solve the problems.

I thought that sounded boring so came up with a few games on the spot. We had a lovely time learning the multiplication tables and whenever the kids would miss one, they had to do a trick. It was great fun and I saw some pretty cool tricks!

After three weeks, the teacher had me take an extra kid in the hall with us and he was happy about playing the games until we came to a # X 9 problem. This kid's name is... E. E is a doughy child who wears sweats to school every day and they aren't even the shiny sweats with the racing stripes along the side. They are the kind made out of sweatshirt material. With the elastic around the ankles. I've been to the family's house and they are far from poor.

Anyway, we come to this X 9 problem and E has trouble with those. The other kids were showing him the finger trick and I was telling him the other trick. (Saaaaay.... it's.... 6 X 9. 6 - 1 is 5, 5 + what = 9? 4. So.... 54.) He was getting upset, so I asked the other kids to go over the cards they had in their hands and I turned back to E. I said, "It's ok, E, No big deal. Let's take a deep breath and try again. Which trick do you prefer, the finger one or the number one?" He got all huffy and puffy and then said, in this really, whiny voice, "You're making me unhappy."

I was a bit taken aback and gently said, "No, E, I'm not making you anything, I'm just trying to show you the easy ways to remember these problems. Shall we try again? Now, the finger trick...." and in the middle of my sentence, he got up and walked away. He walked over to a one desk in the hallway and sat there pouting. I said to the other kids, "Um. I guess E needs a break. Who's turn is it?" and we went on playing.

The teacher came out a few minutes later and helped E sort things out and he rejoined us and was fine after that.

When it happened, I remember thinking, "Oh, E, honey, I bet at home you're neeevver unhappy." That poor kid's nails are down to nubbs and he seems nervous all the time. I know I'll get comments, as usual, as to the kid's mental state and who knows what goes on at home and blah, blah, blah. But the thing is, I bet if this kid had some direction and boundaries at home, he wouldn't be half so nervous and rude.

I've already ranted many times about how kids are over-indulged and they end up being soft and feeling entitled and act out accordingly. So we'll skip that today and I'll just have a little whine fest of my own.

Ever since that happened, whenever Dave and I are playfully getting on each other's nerves, we say that now, "You're making me unhappy."

These are things that are making me unhappy (and yes, I am also doughy and my nails are currently down to nervous nubbs):

How is 1.5 pages of paper that cites 2 internet sources acceptable, but my 5 pages with no sources but all solid material backed by my TEN years as a massage therapist not acceptable??

Facebook sucks. A friend pops up out of the blue and you have all these great conversations. The whole thing made me very wary at first because back in the day, things ended badly and I got my heart ripped out. But it seems things are different now. It seems we can laugh about those days and talk and heart-to-heart and be friends again. Then, after a long time, you get smacked in the gut with the fact that nothing's different and, sadly, it hurts just as much as it did Way Back When. (yea, I'm blaming Facebook for that. sigh.)

I don't get enough sleep. Still.

I don't get enough sleep, despite the fact that the job I work for is cutting hours for everyone due to low volume of business now. Tuesday I get off at 8p instead of 11p and Wednesdays, I'm off at 9:30p instead of 11p. You think this would be a bonus! But the lack of money due to losing roughly $200 a week in income is keeping me up still.

People in CO won't shut up about the earthquakes here. I get that they haven't had an earthquake here in 44 years so it's something of a novelty but, seriously! It happened, like, 2 weeks ago and it was only a 5.2. Growing up in California, we used 5.2's to stir our cocktails. Calm the fuck down, people.

I had this whole post written up about peeves I've had about swaps:

1. If you join a swap and then start talking about how strapped your funds are, I want to slap you. If you can't meet the minimum requirements, then don't join the swap. Simple, right?

2. Also, for the love of YARN, don't tell me you don't have access to "good" yarn. If you are online, joining a swap, you have access to ALL yarn. And if you don't want to pay shipping twice (once to you and then to send to swappee), then have the seller ship it directly to your swap partner. Equally simple.

3. I don't mind if you're late. Hell, half the time I'm late. Life gets in the way! But communicate!

That last one comes with a tale:

I was in the Alphabet swap in Rav. My swap partner was not only the moderator of the group, she was the founder of the group. It was a straight swap, so I send to her and she sends to me. I sent to her. She sent to me........... nothing. After a week, I emailed her and she was all "Life!" and I said, "np" and she said she'd send. 2 weeks later, still nothing. No communication from her unless I initiated and she kept telling me she'd send that day or whatever. After it was 6 weeks late, I said she could just paypal me the $20 I spent on the yarn I sent her and she could keep the rest of the goodies in the box as lovely parting gifts as I was giving up on the Alphabet swaps.

Another 2 weeks later, I forgot to leave that group so I went to take care of that. I saw that she'd ANGELED a really great package to someone else in that same swap! WTF??

I pm'd her again asking her what was up. She said that it was the package she'd made for me but since I'd been so nasty about it and clearly just wanted money, she gave it to someone else. I made it clear that I was polite and patient as I could be but somewhere around the 6 weeks mark, my patience for late packages turns into resignation that no package would be forthcoming. I pointed out that the communication was non-existent unless I initiated and also pointed out that she hadn't even paypal'd anything anyway. She paypal'd the money that day and that was the end of it.

She's making me unhappy.

I've been sick the last week. T has a dry, hacking cough for over a week now with no signs of letting up. D2 threw up at school yesterday - Dave had to pick him up and D2 threw up in Dave's truck (but at least into a bag), and threw up 6 more times at home (in a bucket). I was at school so I couldn't be home taking care of my little guy. That breaks my heart.

Good things:
Absentee Girl quit. Not good for her, obviously, as she owes about $6K with nothing to show for it and that sucks. But when you're absent so often that people start calling you Absentee Girl, you're going to have a tough time catching up to all the stuff you missed. Class has been kicking along much faster since her departure.

Theory II has one day this week and four days next week, then it's the break between quarters. After the break.... the real work starts! Speed tests and practice all the time. I can't wait! Yesterday, the teacher skimmed through the last 4 chapters of the book. There wasn't much in them that we hadn't already learned and so as of yesterday, I know about as much Phoenix Stenography Theory as I'll ever learn and I just have to practice it all to get the muscle memory and the speed.

That's all the good I can muster today.

I stapled my thumb in class and it's making me unhappy, Ruth!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

T is for Tackle

I've been knitting away at some small (socks) and some large (sweaters) projects that take forever so I needed a quick and dirty project that I could kick out and then WEAR.

I present Emmaline....

Back of it....

This was so fast and so easy! And the Berroco Vintage Chunky is a dream to work with. I made this sweater in about 3 weeks. The BO took another week. I haven't had a problem with too-tight BO's in years! I did the BO and couldn't pull it over my head. I pulled it out, backed out the last row and went from a US 11 to a US 15 for the last row and the BO. Too tight. Backed the BO out again.... oh, did I mention how much I HATE backing out a BO? I don't mind tinking but undoing a BO is a bitch.

I went up to a US 17 and re-did the BO. It was still a bit tight and I didn't want it to be tight! So, threw it in the corner and a few days later, backed it out again and used the US 17 and Jenny's Stretchy BO and ta-da! Perfection!

Still too warm to actually wear it, but it will be worn. Oh, it WILL be worn.

Someone needs to tackle me and pry the yarn and the needles out of my hands. The speedy success of Emmaline and the anticipation of cooler weather has caused a SEVERE case of startitis. We won't even go into the 15 things I currently have on needles (as usual) coughThreeSocksThreeSweatersAndWeWon'tEvenTalkAboutTheClosetOfNoReturncough. I have the strongest urge to CO three, no, four sweaters and three blankets!

I have the yarn (and the patterns) for all of them...

Hemlock Ring
Saffron Cables

I'm undecided about what yarn to use for the blankets. I have all this Ornaghi Filati Gong yarn; it's sport weight mercerized cotton. There's 18 skeins (142 yards each), in varying but coordinating colors, and I would love to use it in the concentric circles that is Girasole but I'm afraid that when it's finished, it will weigh a metric ton.

I have 12 skeins of burgundy Encore Worsted and I'm either going to double it and make the Hemlock Ring out of it (leaning toward this) or I'm going to use it for the Saffron Cables. I really like the Saffron Cables better but after the Never-ending Blanket, I'm wary of making a big blanket all in one piece again - so heavy and hard on the wrists! Also, with the Hemlock Ring, I discovered with a previous scarf, that I really love the way feather-and-fan looks but to make it is rather deadly boring!

What to do.....
Any suggestions? I'd especially like feedback on the whole mercerized cotton thing.

Speaking of tackling, college football starts today! Dave is so happy and adrenalized, he's been up since about 6am! I'm pretty happy, too! Not that I care that much about the Huskers, but when he's watching the games, I get quite a lot of knitting done.

That may be another reason for all this castonitis that I'm having. I know there's some lovely, long weekends ahead and I want everything I plan to make to be cast(ed?) on and ready to go. I think I'm going to re-implement my WIP Sunday rule (after I whip up a little something for a swap tomorrow) and try to clear some stuff off my needles.

Other nesting things are going on in my head as well. I'm still going round and round with Dave, trying to get him to let me use his shop office (mobile home with no bathroom but 4 rooms that have not much of anything in them since we moved the office stuff to our home office). I am consolidating the stuff in our one-car garage so I can move it to that office so I can get my yarn and other crap out of my friend's house. She's been generously storing it in her secret room and her crawl space for two years now and besides the fact that's so far above and beyond what should be expected from any friend.... I want my shit!

I want all my yarn at this house. I want all the garage stuff (which is waiting for that far-off someday when we can buy a house again) in the office-home. The garage stuff is mostly books and baseball cards and boxes of memorabilia from our lives. It's mostly books. I want my massage table and the Christmas stuff out of the garage. If I got rid of the 5 or 6 bins that are out there now, I could fit the 5 or six bins of my yarn in there! As to the stuff in my friend's crawl space, that can all go to the office-home, too.

I need a good organizer to tackle this mess for me! That's not even starting on the mess IN the house! Our house is a bio-hazard. More then usual. It's gotten so bad, it's even bothering me (and that's sayin' something). It's gotten so bad that I've actually lost a lovely project bag with a pair of socks (two-at-a-time with only the half the feet and toes left to go). Lost it. Disappeared somewhere in our house. Shameful.

Tackle me - I must be stopped, Ruth!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

S is for Sizzle

S is also for Sunday. And Soaked. And Suck.


I was having the best weekend!

Friday, I had a lovely picnic in the library park with my best friend, her toddler and about 30 yellow jackets. (If you know me at all, you know I'm terrified of flying, stinging things). Stinging assholes not withstanding, we had a great time!

Saturday evening, Dave and I went to have dinner with a couple we really like to hang out with. They served brisket and some really divine sides! We drank and hung out in the hot tub and had a blast!

My whole plan for Sunday was to get some yarn dying (special for a swap), sit on my ass and knit and watch movies all day. Maybe get real ambitious and take a nap.

I have this really thick stainless steel pot I use on the stove for dying. I usually put the yarn in with the dye and get it cooking then set it outside to cool. This time I was trying a different technique, so I had the dye cooking and the yarn soaking in a bucket outside, waiting for the hot dye bath.

Thankfully, the pot had no yarn in it.

Thankfully, Dave and I were actually watching TV downstairs; usually we are upstairs, Dave on his computer playing poker, me watching TV in our room, knitting. The kids were in their room playing on their computer and Dave and I were chillin' downstairs, flipping aimlessly through the channels.

Then I hear some water on the stove start to sputter. I looked at Dave puzzled. There was no WAY that water could be boiling over! It's got blue dye in it, so I made sure it wasn't anywhere near the top of the pot. It wasn't even halfway and that pot is about 2 feet deep. I started to get up off the couch when we hear this electric sizzle, then a loud pop, and see the stove arc some fairly amazing electricity off of it!

I rush into the kitchen and see boiling blue-dyed water gushing all over the place. I turn off the stove and look around the pot to see where (and, for fuck's sake HOW) it's boiling over. That's when I realize it's NOT boiling over. There's a hole in the bottom of the pot.

Dave was a champ. I was an idiot.

See, I'm also terrified of electricity. When I was a kid, my big brother used to make me touch the hot wire in the front pasture to see if it was on. If I didn't do it, he'd punch me. Half the time, I could SEE into the garage and see the little green light meaning it was on, but I still had to touch it.

So, Dave is hollering at me to get something to poor it into. I stand there, dancing from foot to foot. He grabs the stockpot we used the night before to cook corn in, dumps that water into the sink and tells me to get the gushing pot off the stove and let it drain into the stockpot. I say, "It's too hot!!" So he hands me the stockpot and, very calmly, gets.... you know... hot pads, lifts off the gushing pot and holds it over the stockpot in my hands. We stand that way until the stockpot is almost full, then we look over at the sink and realize we could've used the stockpot to transfer the leaking pot to the sink and dump it there! Duh.

(So Dave's been laughing at me this whole time and how I'm not good in crisis and I remind him of who always takes care of D2 when he pukes.)

My lazy Sunday turned into a blue Sunday. I spent the WHOLE damn day cleaning blue dye from my pale kitchen. My feet, my hands, splotches on my legs, and my attitude were (are) all blue.

Dave lifted the top of the stove (who knew you could do that?) and there's these two wells under there, apparently for just such an occasion. I made him turn off the breakers to the kitchen. The stove was turned off, but the little light by the dials - the light that tells you the burner is on - wouldn't turn off.

These under-stove-top wells are FULL of hot, blue water. We look at each other. We look at the 3 feet of white linoleum between the stove and the sink. We look at each other and start laughing. I say, "Turkey baster?" and he says, "We're not trying to impregnate it!" and we start laughing harder. I get the turkey baster and start draining first well. We realize this will take an Ice Age. Dave asks if we have a giant sponge anywhere and I say that we don't. He trots off to the garage to double check and I can hear him laughing again. He comes in with our wet/dry shop-vac. Oh yeah.... we own one of those! We had to go online to see how to use it as a wet vac but get the blue water sucked up pretty neatly!

Here's the burner that arced...
See the hole towards the bottom end (beginning?) of the coil?

Here's the Giant Stainless Steel Pot with my thumb for comparison to see the thickness of said pot,

Here's my thumb next to the hole the stove blew into it....

On the plus side, I've discovered the only thing that can remove blue dye from Formica countertops is Formula 409. I used ammonia on Sunday and that got most of it off the enamel of the stove and the linoleum of the floor, but didn't remove any of the dye from the countertops.

On Monday, I tried using bleach soaked rags on the counters with very little results. Today, I used the 409 - blue's all gone! Now I just have to find something other then Time to get it off my skin.

On the only speck of bright side... I had enough dye in the smaller stockpot to actually dye the damn yarn.

Still blue-handed, Ruth!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

R is for Remember

When T was a baby, Dave had to get up at about 4a and leave for work. I used to get up at the same time, but just to get T and bring him into the bed with me. If I didn't get him, he'd wake up for good at about 6a; if I did get him, he'd (we'd) sleep until about 7:30-8a. (Two years later, I did this with D2 also.)

One morning, when T was about 4 months old, he and I were just waking up. It was about 7:30a and my phone rang. I reached over and picked it up and heard Dave's voice say (rather urgently), "Did I wake you? Turn on the news."

I said (rather sleepily), "You didn't wake us, we were just barely awake though. What's on the news?"

Dave, "I don't know. We were all working on the [golf] course and someone from the shop radioed and said it's all over the news that someone bombed the Pentagon. And they also said someone flew a small plane into the Twin Towers in New York."

That woke me up! I flipped on the news and started a full day of horror. It was 9/11.

I couldn't watch and I couldn't look away. I watched TV for over an hour and I turned to T and whispered, "I'm sorry this is the world we have for you. We will try to make it better."

I watched all day. I didn't eat or get dressed or even go to the bathroom. I held my baby and watched.

I saw the towers fall and I saw the people fleeing and the cops yelling at the people video-recording. They weren't yelling at them for recording, they were yelling at them to get the hell out of the area.

I remember seeing the tire of one of the planes that hit the Towers. It was at the foot of the Tower and people were pointing and taking pictures of it. It looked so big and the people looked so small.

I remember seeing one man. I saw him several times during the day and it broke my heart every time. He was wearing business clothes and had a baby carrier strapped to the front of him with a baby in it that was just about T's age. They were both covered in dust and he was holding a dust mask over the baby's face. I saw him at least 4 times that day and in different areas. Whoever was filming was in the same group of people that man was in.

I remember when Dave came home, I was completely drained. I'd been crying all day and I couldn't take any more. Dave wanted to watch. He'd been at work all day and hadn't seen any of it. So we watched together. After a few more hours, it was bedtime and I was begging him to turn it off. He said, "I can't. I feel like if I turn it off, I'm..... I don't know.... abandoning all those poor people or something."

This shocked me. When it comes to strangers, Dave doesn't have a sympathetic bone in his body. Whenever I tell him some horror news story or I'm watching some show where the story makes me cry (Extreme Makeover - Home Edition, etc.), he's always says, "What do you care?? You don't even know those people." But this...

This effected him deeply. He couldn't stop watching and it was about midnight when he finally felt he could turn it off.

I think that day is this generation's JFK assassination. If you ask anyone from that era where they were when they heard about it, what they were doing, and how they heard.... most of them have complete and total recall of those moments.

I remember for months afterward, everyone was telling those stories.... when, how, what..... no one would ever forget.

At the spa where I worked, I remember a few months after 9/11, I worked on a man that lived just a few blocks from the Twin Towers. He worked from home and thought an earthquake had hit when the first plane crashed. He said he was in the Towers when they tried to blow it up years earlier and that was why he worked from home. So for a split second, he thought it was an earthquake, but, deep down, he knew it was a bomb. He stayed inside as long as he could but when he heard stronger crashing sounds, he stuck his head out his front door and saw that WALL of dust and debris coming at him. He went back inside and got in his bathtub because he figured it was the safest place in his brownstone.

Then, almost 6 months later, I worked on another man with close ties. Too close...

He was IN the Tower. The South tower. He was on the floor with the gym (5th floor?), and had just finished his workout. He was showered and had gotten dressed in his business clothes - fancy shoes, 3 piece suit (he's a high-priced lawyer). He said he heard the crash but didn't know what it was. He told me some gym worker popped his head into the locker room and told everyone they had to get out. Gym Worker said there was a bomb threat and they had to evacuate the building. This lawyer blew it off and got ready at his leisure and left.

He told me that he had just gone outside and was looking at the North tower and the burning wreckage when the second plane hit the South Tower. All hell was breaking loose and it was about not very long before the Towers collapsed.

He told me that the authorities were herding everyone away from the towers and he was less then a mile away from the Towers when they fell. He told me he couldn't find any transportation home and had to walk ten miles before he could find transportation the rest of the way home. He told me that he had his gym bag with him and I asked if he changed his shoes to his sneakers. He said that he didn't, that that had never even occurred to him during that whole ten mile walk.

Then he starts telling me about how his best friend since high school was giving a presentation in the restaurant on the top of the North Tower that day. He said they went through college and law school together. He also told me that his daughter and his friend's daughter are in soccer together and it hurts his heart every time he sees that girl. How it kills him that she has to grow up without his friend as her dad, because he was such a loving dad.

Yea.... he's face down and telling me all this. I'm giving him a massage and crying like an idiot. I was using my shoulder and my shirt sleeve to wipe my eyes and my nose and trying not to let on that I was crying. When I flipped him over to work on the other side, I put a cool, rolled up washcloth to cover his eyes so he wouldn't see that I was so upset.

Ten years later, we all still remember so vividly.

When bin Laden was killed, some people celebrated. Some people were angry at the celebrating people. None of it made any sense to me. I mean, they gotta know that his death isn't going to make a difference. If anything, it will make things worse!

I told T that we'd do our best to make this world better. Dave and I have no ability to make the world as a whole better but we have every ability to make his small world the best we can.

Where were you? What were you doing? How did you hear?

I'll never forget, Ruth!