Friday, January 31, 2014

2 hour delay

We received about 6" of snow last night, so there is a two hour delay for the schools this morning. I am relieved, because it's really hard to shovel out and get the kid where he needs to be by 7:30. This way
I get to make a blog post, do a bit of knitting, and will still have enough time to shovel.

It's funny, the school district is of course on Facebook, and under the announcement that there is a delay instead of a full closure, there are comments like, "Really?? Have you looked outside?" and the classic, "You guys are idiots. If you think two hours are enough to clear the roads, you are totally oblivious..." blah blah blah. Safety! Think of the children! We do usually have nice weather here, but it IS Colorado, and the climate means that we occasionally get large dumps of snow.

I need to get a second snow shovel because Mr W is finally a reliable second shoveler. His quality standards are not quite up to mine yet, but he's trainable. I'll have him clean off the car first and then help shovel out the entrance to the alley. I park my car behind my house, and I have to enter the alley to get to the driveway. The alley always gets "plowed in" when the snow plows go by, so I need to shovel it out as well.

But I'll get a bit of time to work on my Leaflet, and I snapped the picture above this morning to show my progress. All hail the thick yarn!! I'm hoping the yarn store is open today because I'll need to purchase a longer circular needle. I had a 24" on hand, but need a 32". The fuzzy Pastaza yarn I have doesn't have super stitch definition, but it was in my stash (and thus free) and I like working with it so far.

My work life is about to change a bit. We're getting a foreign student in the lab to do her Master's project and I'll be in charge of her. This was more or less foisted upon me and I'm going to turn lemons to lemonade. Not that I have anything against having some help but I've set up my work at work to be a solo venture. I've been thinking about what we can have her do, and I talked with my boss yesterday about it and I think we can come up with the stand-alone project she needs that is related to the stuff I'm doing, but my stuff doesn't depend on her outcomes.

Since she's from outside the US, the security stuff is extensive and she'll need to be escorted around the building for the first month or so that she's here. My boss offered to do some of the escorting, but her cube will be near mine, so it will fall to me to do most of it. It'll all work out, but I'm uncertain of the details. She's here for a year.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

This one

One goofy thing about getting your hands on a knitting pattern you see on Ravely is that sometimes the pattern is only available as part of a book. I wish pattern makers made all their individual patterns available for purchase, well, individually, but that doesn't always happen. 

Such was the case with the pullover sweater I mentioned in my last post. I would have paid $6-7 for the pattern, but couldn't, so I've ordered the book it's in though interlibrary loan. I just can't see myself paying $25 for a book of patterns when I only want the one. Meanwhile, I wanted to start SOMETHING. 

Enter Leaflet, above. I was looking for something I could knit with aran or bulky weight yarn, and saw this. The pattern is available through Knitty, whose patterns are free (yea!). Knowing I wanted this, I went around to my LYS (local yarn store) and strangely enough they were really sparse in their offerings of yarn in this weight. I love alpaca because it's so soft, but can't spend $250 on yarn for a sweater. I was ready to spend something, though, and was disappointed I didn't find anything. 

I had purchased some Pastaza (made by Cascade, and which has been discontinued) and it was in my stash, so I'm using that. This is the colorway, a yellowy green. I'm pretty sure I have enough to make elbow-length if not long sleeves, and am planning to do that.

It's springy and fresh and if I don't like the color when it's done, I'll dye the finished garment. Some people find it scratchy, but so far it's really fuzzy, but not scratchy as I work with it. 

I'm excited to be knitting again. There was some time when it just didn't appeal to me, and now I think about it when I'm at work. Funny. It's too dark to take a decent picture of it, but I'm about 5" in on the yoke of the sweater. I do like to work with bulky yarn. Love the look of sweaters done in DK weight, but I don't have the patience for it. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Things to do, places to go

I seem to oscillate between letting inertia keep me home in the evenings and having things to do. Sometimes just staying in is enough, maybe even preferred, but I do notice that I get a little squirrelly (is my term for it) if I'm alone too much. I work alone for a good part of the day, so unlike people who have to constantly deal with co-workers, my work time is usually a solo thing unless I go out and talk to people (which I actually should do more. See above about inertia...).

Anyway, there is a program at our science museum that I'm attending, and I'm looking forward to that. It's funny, I fully intend to become a member but for two small things. First, they don't have a way to do it through their website (they are kind of a new/young organization), so you have to print out a form to fill out and mail it in with a check (maybe credit card info). Second, and this is such a nit-picky thing that I'd like to believe it's only the first thing that has kept me thus far from joining: they don't have memberships for a parent and a kid. There's individual, there's family, there's grandparent, but unlike the science museum in Denver, nothing for an individual plus one. Small things, really. I'm making a note to myself to print the form today and bring it and a check with me tonight.

I'm hoping to get together Friday with a friend who I don't socialize with enough. Hopefully that will happen. Then Saturday I've been invited to my banjo instructor's place for some picking and socializing. This means a lot to me because I have not been playing, and stopped my lessons back in September. I just picked up my banjo again last week after a couple of months, and was relieved to see I haven't lost everything (except my calluses, but they'll reform). I still want to get to a point where I can hold my own while playing with a group, even if I don't know the song. I need to get comfortable playing (finding the chords!) in A and D tunings. But I digress. I'm grateful that my instructor thought of me to invite me and I'm looking forward to seeing those folks again.

In other news, I'm getting close to starting a sweater. It's called Derry Raglan (that's the Ravelry link). It's knit with aran weight, and is easy and fast and has a little bling down the sleeves. I waver on the yarn, though. I'm always looking for that sweet spot in yarn, where it's good stuff - not scratchy, not droopy, won't pill right after I get finished - but doesn't cost me $150 to get enough for a sweater. Good yarn is not cheap. I think you kind of get what you pay for.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Garden resolutions 2014: more flowers

I didn't do much with my vegetable garden last year besides planting and watering it, mostly on account of getting the kitchen remodeled and not having a stove for parts of August and September. I kind of let things go. For example, I threw several very large zucchini directly into the compost pile, which was wasteful.

I know some people consider gardening to be only vegetable gardening, but I get a lot of pleasure from growing flowers. I also like to support the local food movement, and dislike having to eat something from the garden because it's going to go to waste if I don't.

I'm fortunate to not have to rely on my garden for food, and thankful that I have these beds so if I did need to grow more of my own food, I potentially could.

So this year, I'll have the usual one zucchini, a couple of roma tomatoes, a grape tomato, snap peas, lettuce and spinach, carrots. Some of that stuff will even be in little rows. And that's it. I'll need to tame my raspberries, and deal with the fact that only half (maybe fewer) of the canes are bearing fruit. Somehow, some of the ones that originally went in there are sterile. I've cut them in the fall, I've let them go overwinter, no difference. They'll leaf out fine, but no fruit. Anyone have suggestions for getting those out? I'd be OK with getting everything out and starting over, too. It's only a 4 x 4 bed in the corner of the yard.

Then, I'm going to use the newest bed that I put in a couple of years ago to plant Dahlias, and maybe a rose bush. I've always liked them and why the heck not? Writing this reminds me that I need to have a plumber come out and fix or install a new faucet outside, as the one that is there now leaks unless I really wrench it down.

I don't think it's too early to think about gardening. It feels good to begin.

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Mr W comes home from school occasionally and laments how other kids sometimes sort of pick on him. They will trade insults, and kids sometimes will get in his face a bit and ask what he's doing. For the latter, I talked to him about how it's probably a fun thing for the other kid if Mr W shows how annoyed he is. For the former, I advised keeping his jabs clever, but not personal. Somehow, he didn't see that making a dig about a kid's C+ on his report card wasn't hurtful.

It's hard to think on one's feet, and difficult to negotiate all the social stuff of middle school. It's funny that one of the kids that annoys him at the moment is a squirt about 6" shorter than Mr W. I wonder if these kids instinctually jab at him because they know he's pretty peaceful (although he did say he wanted to slam this kid into the lockers...).

We talked about ways to deflect annoying people, and I'm pleased to say that it worked, at least it did yesterday. I suggested that when the kid came up to him and started asking how he's doing, that he say something like, "I'm sorry, I don't have time to talk to you right now. I'm (insert something boring and mundane here)". The kid was thrown off his game a bit, and Mr W can now come up with any number of snide remarks: "I'm traveling in the 11th dimension" "I'm working on a plan for world peace" "I'm watching my fingernails grow". He seemed pleased that he was able to have some control over how the interaction took place, and I'll be interested to see if the other kid leaves him alone so he can find someone else who is more fun to bother.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It's the little things

This is a trivial post, so proceed with that knowledge.

It seems inevitable. I use a dishcloth and a scrubby sponge in the kitchen, and I dutifully wring them out and set them to dry after every use. I get icked out by the thought of either sitting there, soaking wet and breeding bacteria. And the sponge in the breakroom sink at work? Forget it. I take my dirty dishes home.

Anyway, the cloths and the sponge eventually get that weird smell to them. I toss the sponge and replace it with a new one, but washing the rags eventually doesn't help. It must have been Pinterest that gave me the idea, but I took big pot, filled it most of the way with hot tap water, added a cup and a half of white vinegar and all the cloths, and let it sit for an hour. I then washed all the cloths in the washing machine. And you know what? It seems to have helped. pH changes or something...
Yep, it's the little things.

In other news, my back pain continues to be gone and I couldn't be happier about that. I realized how much the worry over it was eating at me and feel like a weight has been lifted.

In other other news, I am headed back to Las Vegas in a couple of months, this time for my brother's 50th birthday. We all had so much fun at my SIL's (his wife's) Vegas celebration last year, we're back for more. Found a cheap (relatively) place to stay downtown, and am looking forward to it.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A close call

Well cared-for dogs don't worry about much, I suspect. Sally has her routine, and although she's home alone during the day, this is usually how I find her when I come home from work. I took this the day after we got back from our trip, and she was peacefully exhausted from having stayed with dog park friends for six days. 

Depending on what I've got going on after work, and how muddy the dog park will be (based on how much snow we've had recently), I either take Sal for a 20-30 minute walk, or go to the dog park. She doesn't like the head collar/ gentle leader I use, but it makes for a much better walk. She hangs her head while I put it on, but then perks up once we're outside. Treats help.

We were going on a different route around the neighborhood a couple of days ago, and were waiting to cross a street big enough to have a walk sign that you have to push the button for. The light turns, the "white walking man" sign lights up and we step into the street. A second later, a car starts to turn right and almost hits Sally. To my recollection, it stopped about a foot or two from her. 

He wasn't going very fast because he was starting from a full stop, but the sight of the SUV almost hitting my dog really scared me. I stopped for a couple of seconds in the crosswalk, the driver looked kind of sorry, and we both continued on our way. Sal, for her part, was unscathed by it all, and just kept going. 

I, of course, then pondered how fast stuff can happen. I also thought about how much I love this darn dog, who has been so good at keeping me company and is an easy keeper. There's nothing to change about how I get around, really. I'm pretty good at checking for traffic wherever we go for walks, but it's good to get the occasional reminder.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Psyching myself out

Sleep, why is this so hard for us? I feel the difference when you behave yourself. I feel great when you visit and stay a while. I've read the books about how vital you are to my well-being. And yet, you make me wait. Sigh...

It seems like it's always something, and forgive me please if you are weary about hearing of my sleep troubles. On a very important up side, I've got my pillows rearranged so my lower back pain during the day seems to be almost gone. That's a pretty small change for a big return and I wouldn't have figured it out if I hadn't slept on another bed recently. Thankful for that. 

But I find that, like a lot of people, the things I worry about can keep me up, even if I'm not actively thinking about them. Hunting down these anxieties and telling them to take a hike takes work!! Dammit. In the haze of almost-sleep I'm often just in the middle area between being able to think and being able to not, so it's hard to make conscious decisions about things. 

Last night I was tossing and turning and reached for my phone to browse around because I was awake enough to do it. In my Facebook feed I saw the words "Learned Optimism". It set off a useful little train of thought that ended up with me saying to myself, "I choose to believe that everything is going to work out for the best."

Is anything really wrong? No, just the usual uncertainty of being in a contract position. On most days lately, I feel OK with that because a two-year federal budget has been passed that (I think) keeps funding pretty level with where it is now.

I'm also trying new stuff at work. It has me doing a lot of reading about what other people have done, and I get to collaborate with some co-workers. Those are two really good things about it. But it's stuff I haven't done before, although I'm really interested in it, and that uncertainty bugs me a bit sometimes. 

It bothers me a bit that even though the above work related things have a measure of uncertainty to them, it's really small potatoes. It should be pretty easy to chalk it up to how life works. I feel this is a consequence of living alone - the ideas need to roll around in my head for a lot longer than they would if they bounced off another person. I'm not complaining, but it's good to realize that I sometimes start to loop about this stuff, and I'm the one that has to step in and say "enough!". 

Took the picture above at the dog park yesterday. I just liked the stack of clouds and the lighting on them was nice. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Another list

So long, 2013! It was a good year. 

We just got back yesterday from visiting family in Charleston, SC. It was good, as always, to see them, and the visits go so fast. We had relatively uneventful plane rides, although our plane was held for 30 minutes in Atlanta while some snowy weather in Denver (our destination) blew through. What a difference a day makes, as I've read today about travel delays all over the country due to the severe cold weather across much of the country.

While in SC, we visited a town/island called Folly Beach, and drove past the house we rented in 2007, my sister's last summer. It was bittersweet. She loved the beach, which is strange given that her siblings really shy away from being in the sun. She loved the fancy house we stayed in and we talked about how we were so glad that we splurged to rent it. 

Other activities included a Japanese steakhouse, where they flipped the utensils around and cooked the meal on a big grill in front of the group. The kids especially enjoyed it. We also went to a new bowling alley/restaurant downtown, and the picture below shows my younger brother and Mr W doing their respective things. Older brother and I played pinball too, and I was reminded that younger brother and I spent a lot of quarters on pinball when we were growing up. I earned two free games, btw :-)

Although I'm not one to make resolutions because I don't keep them, I've been thinking of some changes I'd like to make regarding my free time and some other aspects of my life. 

I'm backing off of the jewelry thing (again). I've been making things for the wrong reason, namely making things to stock my Etsy shop, and they don't sell well enough for me to justify the time (at this time) to promote and try to drive traffic to my shop. The poor sales at the craft show I did last month really drove it home that this is not how I want to spend my free time right now. I'm going to clean up the area of my living room where I do my crafty stuff, and put things away for a while. 

I'd like to cook more. It takes more organization and planning than I've been giving it. Mr W is getting older and his palette is expanding such that I feel like I can stop making two things each time we eat. I know, I know, I should have never gotten into the habit, but it is what it is. While we were in SC, he shucked oysters and thought they were quite good, and ate shrimp as well.

I'm going to accept the way I look right now. This is a biggie, and I'm not going to bore you with details about the path I had to take to get here, but it was residual divorce stuff. I feel progress has been made, and my perspective is more that I'm grateful to be healthy.

I want to save to take a big trip. Related to this is to get better at staying on a budget with my finances. I've always pictured myself as someone who would benefit by a little overseas travel. I decided that if I didn't have anyone to travel with by the time I turned 50, I'd book a trip to the UK with Road Scholar. I I have a year and a half until then, and it's time to start saving. There is the possibility that my brother and SIL might go to Spain this summer with a couple of friends, and I would try to tag along on that if it worked out. 

And those are good starts. The last thing isn't a goal so much as something that needed to happen so I could continue the goal of getting regular exercise. My lower back has been hurting for the last couple of months. I thought originally that I hurt it doing yoga. All well and good, and I've successively backed off of doing things that I thought would aggravate it. The act of standing for more than 20 minutes or so (like I need to do for working in the lab) hurt quite a bit, and I was taking Ibuprofen for the pain most days. I bought a new pair of Danskos, which helped, but I was getting concerned that I had done something serious to my lower back.

Fast forward to the Charleston trip. I was nervous about sleeping on anything other than my Tempur-pedic fancy shmancy mattress. Mr W and I each had half of a trundle bed. I borrowed several of my SIL's quilts and along with a couple of pillows, was able to sleep with my shoulders elevated a bit. Lo and behold a couple of days go by and I'm waiting for the pain to start and it never does. Huh. The working theory now is that it's my damn bed/pillow configuration. I propped myself up a bit last night and it seems to help. I wondered whether the fact that a certain dog sleeps in my spot most of the day has anything to do with this. As in perhaps the mattress is getting compressed there? I don't know, but I'm going to try to rotate it and see if that helps too. I am relieved to have made progress on figuring out the cause (hopefully) of this back pain, and am looking forward to getting back to spin class and yoga.