Passing the time

Logan has asked me to take on the monumental task of digitizing our music collection and collecting what’s already digital all in one location.  Eep!

We’re showing our old and rigid ways; we still purchase CDs, which essentially makes us dinosaurs in this digital era.

He wants a backup in case something tragic happens (some of the discs are almost two decades old now and others are impossible to find) and I’m okay with that…other than having to sit at my computer, bored out of my mind while they rip.  I like to organize and create insanely detailed lists — I’m looking at you, budget! — but this one is a little out of hand.  I honestly don’t know how many CDs we’ve collected over the years, much less how many hard-drives our digital collections are scattered across now or if I even want to find some of the old stuff Logan listened to.  Sorry, not sorry.  ;P

…so since I’m stranded at my desk, I figured I would blog to pass the time.

Joule is pouting, as she tends to do, when she doesn’t get her way.  Last time she hid under a blanket on the bed, growling, after I shooed her out of my crafting room until I let her back in hours later.  Then she was back to being Miss Rainbows and Sunshine.

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Today she was on my desk, playing with a pair of plastic elephants I found hidden in a hole in the floor — my glasses broke last week and the lens disappeared into a hole under the heater and I found it after hours of searching, along with the elephants and a lot of dust — and, being a typical cat, she knocked it right off into the trash.  Not really wanting to keep the elephants, I left them in the bin.  She tried fishing them out and then started fussing at me when she couldn’t, but I ignored her…so now she’s blatantly ignoring me and sulking under Logan’s chair.

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It never fails to amuse me when people who don’t have pets claim that animals don’t have personalities…because they do.  They soooo do.

Our dog, Mitzi, for example, got in a bit of trouble a few nights ago for breaking into the trash can.  She knows the rules of the house.  She knows them so well that she tattles on herself.  If she doesn’t meet you at the door with her head hanging, she’s hiding and is nowhere to be found.  This time, she was missing and there was a bone on the living room rug, so we knew the dogs had been having a party without us.  Thorin pretended he had no clue what was going on, as he always does.  Mitzi, though, was missing.

Thankfully, she’s not that good at hiding.

In fact, she’s hilariously bad at hiding.

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Thorin was cheering us on from the side, blaming it all on her…even though there was also a bone in his favorite chewing spot.  Mitzi may have no dignity, but at least she’s honest.  😛

I’m glad the dogs felt my food scraps were worth raiding the trash and a chiding; I would have given the bones to them to begin with if I wasn’t afraid they would’ve splintered and hurt them.  Logan tried cooking and feeding the squid scraps to them and they turned their little noses up at him.  He was pretty aghast over it.  I don’t blame them though — I wouldn’t have eaten it either and I quite enjoy squid.

Last night I cooked the pork belly I mentioned in my last post.  I decided to make it a bit spicy with a rub and did a honey glaze at the end after it had rendered and crisped nicely.  Logan and I are doing a gift a day this December as a way to spice up our normal Christmas celebration — we’ve mostly done really small gifts but he gave me my large gift on Wednesday since it’s my wet blanket day.  I’m now the gleeful owner of an immersion blender, so I had to test it out.  LOVE IT!  We had garlic-sauteed kale, some sticky cabbage, and some pureed sweet potatoes to go with the pork belly.  Logan was super happy…and since my only job in life is to feed his hearty appetite, I guess the mission was accomplished.

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Logan and I tend to eat a crazy variety of food — I get easily bored making and eating the same things.  It seems not everybody is the same way?  I hear a lot of our friends/family complain about being in food ruts.  It’s easy to break out of it; just cook something different!

Wednesday, I made Kapustnyak (a Ukranian sauerkraut stew) with some soda bread.  The stew looks like any other bowl of soup but Logan thought the bread was worth taking a picture of.  He’s been craving it since our trip to Ireland, so I figured I might as well try to make some.  Turns out it was incredibly easy to make and only took about 45 minutes total, so I’ll be doing it again next time he wants bread with a meal.

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Tuesday, we had a comfort food meal of meatloaf, collards (Logan’s favorite, I think they taste like farts smell), carrots (with cardamom because I like cardamom), fresh pickled beets, and some stove top potatoes…that Logan turned off the heat to because he thought he was being helpful so they didn’t color or thicken right…but at least they were cooked.  Ugh.

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Monday night was…a hilariously horrible casserole straight out of the 70s known as Saucy Twist Pork Dish.  It was my Dad’s favorite meal, competing only with Grandmother’s spaghetti.  When Logan first visited my home in Virginia a decade ago, Dad was still living but not doing very well…and Dad asked that I make Saucy Twist for him — he even used to call me home from college to make it for him.  Who was I to say no at that point?  Saucy Twist looks like vomit in a pot.  Ketchup, rotini, SPAM (no kidding), cheese, canned soup…it’s special.  I grew up on it, I’m used to it.  Lo and behold, Logan LOVED it.  Loves it like Dad loved it.  He asks to have it every week if I’ll put up with it.  I try to keep it down to once a month but it doesn’t keep him from asking more often and begging for the leftovers. 😛

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Whoever reviewed it as having an attractive appearance needs their glasses fixed more than I do.  It looks horrible, especially before it’s baked.  It tastes a whole lot better than it looks.

Tonight it’s either pineapple fried rice with Chinese sausage and shrimp or little handheld meat pies…depends on which Logan wants when he gets home.  I’m leaning towards the pineapple fried rice.  The pineapple I have is HUGE and smells so delightful, I can’t wait to cut into it.

I finally finished the CDs but I had one final thought I wanted to toss out there.

I posted some photos of my sister on her birthday on Facebook.  I tagged my Mom in them so her friends could see them too.  I keep my friend list pretty sparse, so normally don’t receive much of a response to my posts…but this one did, at least for me.  105 reactions and 34 comments as of right now.  Most of the people I found appropriate, but one almost sent me into a rage fest…and it still might.

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To give a frame of reference — this is how most of the comments were.  The first comment was from one of our neighbors.  He’s my age and we were pretty decent friends through school, really good friends when we were younger.  He’s always been a nice guy and always treated my sister well.  He sent me flowers at her funeral and every year has sent a message of some sort to me on her birthday or the day she died.

The second comment was from the lady that drove my sister to pre-school for years, so knew since she was a toddler.  She’s also the one who was the dispatcher when I made the 911 call and stayed on the line with me for half an hour, even though she was crying, while I was performing CPR and waiting on an ambulance.

The fourth comment is from an old co-worker of my mom’s.  When we were little, I remember visiting her a few times and she made beautiful porcelain dolls to look like my sister and me when we were in elementary school.

The last comment is from one of my sister’s best friends, “Good Buddy” as they called each other.  I don’t have to say any thing else about her, some friendships are special.

The comments were all from people that knew my sister, knew her well, and have reason to remember her.

…but that middle comment makes me want to rip out somebody’s hair, namely the person that commented and her family.  The lady that left the comment is the mother of my sister’s biggest bully in school.  The girl tormented the shit out of her, made a game out of making her miserable (even when my sister went to a different school for two years), to the point that I had to intervene.  She would tell other kids that they could be her friend if they would stop being my sister’s friend or bully them relentlessly as well if they wouldn’t.  She even threatened her physically — which is when I stepped in and told her I’d be there after school to handle it.  Thankfully the kid was chickenshit and I saw her running out of the school as I was closing my locker at the final bell…but of course, not before she had her older sister confront me about “picking on” her baby sister. At my sister’s funeral, the bully showed up crying harder than anybody else in the room.  I had to leave the room at that point or I honestly could have stabbed her with a flower spike.  Their mom is a complete jerkwad too, though, so I’m not surprised.  I AM surprised she had the balls to comment though and it’s really taking all I have not to spit some venom at her.   …so this is my outlet, for now.   Fuck you, Glenda, and your shithead spawns.

 

A post that’s all over the place

It has been a few weeks since my last post but I haven’t been dawdling too awful much.  Maybe I’ll get back to more frequent updates so my posts are less massive and more on one subject. 😛

Our Asian Supermarket remodeled over the last month and I was like a kid in a candy store.  They have a butcher and a fresh fish counter now!!!  *happy dance*  I now have a resource for almost everything I could dream of, including Silkie chicken (okay so maybe I want them more for pets than food), quail eggs, and pork blood for black sausage!

I didn’t go too far off my restocking list, but I did come home with some pork belly for dinner this week — think I’ll pair it with some sticky red cabbage, sauteed kale, and mashed sweet potatoes, and Logan brought home a bag of fresh squid.  He spent Sunday learning to clean squid.  It was a mess but he loved it, especially eating it after I cooked them up as Korean-style Ojingeo bokkeum.

On Thursday, Logan and I went to NYC and finally saw The Nightmare Before Christmas: Live to Film.  The show was amazing and I enjoyed every minute of it.

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Catherine O’Hara and Danny Elfman singing Jack and Sally’s Song

We had an adventure getting there.  We almost missed both of our MTA-North trains…you know, the kind where you dash onto the train and the conductor (as he’s laughing at you) gets on behind you to close the doors and already has everything in motion before you reach any seats.  We live an hour and a half from the furthest line north, so we take the last train on the line.  We would have had to wait another hour for the next train to the city or possibly had to have stayed the night in the city if we’d missed our train home.  Sometimes we cut things a bit too close for comfort.

To add to the fun times, our arrival train lost its brakes approaching Grand Central Terminal.  The conductors’ radios weren’t working like they should so they announced that fact to the entire train to tell one another.  We were sitting across from a screaming kid.  The conductor in our car was cool as a cucumber, though, so we didn’t see a reason to worry about it.  In the end, there was no reason to.

Since we made our train, we got to enjoy dinner at La Vara in Brooklyn.  Logan was especially excited.  He’d never had Spanish cuisine and they’re Michelin starred!  We ate at a Michelin mentioned restaurant in Scotland and the food was so phenomenal that now he wants to work his way up the star chain.  I’ve noticed there’s a bit of a bias towards Japanese and fancy French styles of cooking in the guide, so wanted to try something a bit more off beat and closer to Barclay’s Center since that’s where our show was…La Vara fit the bill.

Everything was served tapas style and was very tasty.  I agreed to eat everything, even things I don’t normally like (olives and cilantro) since the waitress took note of allergies before taking our order and recommended ordering about 5-6 items (minus dessert) for two people.  The chef did a great job — I even liked the olives and chimichurri.  Normally I think cilantro in anything tastes like soap but not this time.

I agreed that I’d remember what we ordered if Logan would take the pictures.  So we ended up with the a free little fried olive in a mint yogurt sauce as the “Amuse”.  Then we started off with the Croqueta Del Día which were serrano ham. Soooooo good!  Next was Sobrasada con Miel which was a Menorcan spreadable sausage and honey foam on charred bread (sadly, my personal favorite — that combo was to die for), followed by the Pulpo — grilled octopus with a spicy ink sauce and a garlicy sauce over white beans.  Next we had Conejo en Escabeche, stuffed rabbit loin in a tangy onion vinaigrette with prunes and onions, which was Logan’s favorite even though he’d sworn never to eat rabbit.  Our last savory plate was Cochinillo which was a crispy suckling pig with a rose-quince sauce and, of course, chimichurri.  Desserts were Egipcio and Budin — the first was an orange blossom, walnut and date tart (reminded me more of a shortbread, though) with lemon curd and cream, the second was a super awesome bread pudding with a cinnamon cream and blueberries.  Can you tell which I liked more?  😛

All in all, I’d recommend stopping by if you’re in the area.  It was a cute and cozy restaurant and a not a bad walk from the nearest underground.  It also wasn’t busy when we were there — but we went early so we could go to our show — which is a huge plus for me.  It was filling up fast by the time we left.  It also wasn’t nearly as expensive as I thought it would be — our bill ended up being just a bit over $100, for eight plates of food.  Logan is a heavy-hitter when it comes to meals and we did -not- order cheap plates.  Here at home we can rack up $80 bills at our Chinese restaurant if Logan is in the right mood, so considering this was NYC, I was really pleasantly surprised.

Crafting wise, I’ve been working on the endless RPG scarf (I’m on Chapter 6 of it, so just two more left, I think?) and I finished my end of Mom’s birthday gift!  Her birthday is two days after Christmas, so it adds to my crafting mayhem for this time of year.

Is it time to finally reveal what it is I’ve been making for her?  Sure!

When we were in Northern Ireland, we visited the ancestral castle of her maternal family.  It’s in ruins now, but we still hopped a fence and explored around as much as we could.  It was spooky and lovely and one of the most fun things we did in my opinion.  Mom’s too, if I had to guess.  At least, I hope.  😛  I’ve had this gift in the planning works for a while now.

The whole castle is enveloped in ivy now, completely swallowed by it except for one little corner.  Even the inside of the rooms are draped with it since the roof has long collapsed.

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I pinched four leaves of that ivy while I was there and smuggled them back with me.

Once home, I’ve been slowly coating them with a PMC3 slip — a silver clay.  I finally got them all up to the proper thickness last week and started torch firing them since I don’t have a kiln.

I’m glad I was smart and brought back four.  The first time, my butane torch (using the same one I use for plumbing, not food) was too hot and I melted the damn thing right at the end.  Three left and they fired fine.

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After being fired and the charred leaf remnants removed — ivy is oily so didn’t burn completely

Three left and then I had to drill a hole in them so I could turn them into jewelry.  Of course, one didn’t get along with the drill and cracked.  Two survived.

Two is good.  One for Mom, one for me, if they survive.  I scuffed off the clay residue to expose the silver with a stainless steel brush then burnished them just a bit to give more of a mirror shine on some surfaces so the leaf veins and textures would be a bit more obvious.

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I dropped them off a few days ago at my local jeweler to add a jump ring — they need a large one due to size and weight — and I knew he’d do a better job and for cheaper than I could get the materials.  I was right, of course.  He’s charging me $15 for the work when I can barely get the solder I need for it, much less the boric, the jump rings, the pickle mix, etc… for that price.  I’ll save myself the panic and headaches and let him do it.  If one of the leaves survives for gifting, I’ll be happy.  I also went ahead and ordered a chain from him while I was there.

I hope she likes it!  At least it will be something completely unique.

To finish off the post, I can’t leave without mentioning today would have been my sister’s 30th birthday.

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…and yes, I chose this picture of Pissant for a reason (no, I have no idea why I called her Pissant for most of my life, but I can remember doing so even when I was really little).  It absolutely encompasses her personality.  She was absolutely full of mischief and “fuck you” attitude.  Life has a funny way of building character.

I’m doing my best not to be a complete wet blanket over my missing partner in crime, so I’m going to go finish sewing some pillow cases — 30 for her 30th to donate.  I just have 4 more to finish!  I still haven’t decided if I’m giving them to our local Ronald McDonald House or the local charity for children in crisis — they’ve went viral this year with their Christmas wishes, so they may be a bit swamped right now.  I have a soft spot for both.  We stayed at RMHs a lot growing up and I know (and worked with years ago) quite a few kids that went through the foster system.  Maybe I’ll split the difference and give to both?  Time will tell.

Thanksgiving blues + knitting guts

Knitting stuff is at the bottom if you want to skip to it.

I had to take a break from social media yesterday.  I probably should have today as well but at some point you just have to suck it up and move on, you know?

It’s funny how taking a break from Facebook and other sites is a big deal these days, but it really kind of is.  I’ve always been fairly connected to the internet; I loved chatting as soon as I had access to the internet and anybody who knows me well knows Logan and I met online before it was a more acceptable thing to do.

There’s your warning, this isn’t a happy post but I need the vent.

Thanksgiving has long been a holiday I haven’t enjoyed.

I loved it as a kid — I’d get TWO Thanksgivings.  We’d have Thanksgiving lunch at my Grandmother’s with Dad’s family and then we’d truck over to Granny Boo’s and have who knows what at her house with Mom’s family.   …usually a wild turkey that Uncle David had shot that was inedible so I was usually pretty glad I was already stuffed on turkey and could just enjoy the sides Granny Boo made.  Sides and family are the best parts of Thanksgiving anyway, right?  I’m pretty sure turkey (or green beans, but I’m unfairly biased since I’m allergic) is the least best part.

Then we get older and things change.

Grandmother’s was always particular fun because I still had great-grandparents living.

…and then Grandma died on Thanksgiving right after we’d eaten and Granny sat there crying, wringing her hands, saying it should have been her and she was next.

Mom’s family is miserable at best — the ones that are still alive don’t seem to really talk to each other anymore.  I’m not really sure what the falling outs were all about or if they all just finally got sick of pretending to like each other…but it seems the only time they talk to one another are at funerals or when the cops are involved, so family gatherings aren’t really a thing.

So yah, the thought Thanksgiving has lost a lot of its luster.

To make yesterday worse, it was Dad’s birthday.

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He would have been 57 and for some reason I’ve just been having a really hard time with it this year, I think because it was the 10th year anniversary of his passing on the 20th of this month.   …or because I just really, really miss him.   It could also be because it’s the double whammy of his birthday and Thanksgiving kicking off my sad season — my sister’s birthday is coming up in a few weeks and then I just have to ride it out until Christmas.

…things usually get better after Christmas.  The world quiets down, quits throwing celebrations in your face, and you can pretend to be normal again for eleven months.

Knitting stuff starts here.

Oh, and just to kick me in my teeth while I was down, as I working on the cardigan yesterday, I noticed something horrifying.

I had crossed one of my cables the wrong way.  15 rows back.  Without a life line.

WTF was I thinking getting cocky enough not to put in a good life line?!

The rows for the body are 215 stitches long, so there was no way I was tinking 3,225 stitches.  It takes long enough to knit those in moss stitch, much less tink them without twisting stitches.  I also wasn’t going to rip out 15 rows of work and then have to deal with picking up 215 stitches in the right order, without twisting them.

…the good news is, I’m a pro at now knowing if my stitches are twisted — something I wasn’t always so good at before starting this project.  I can also drop a whole column of stitches know and zip them right back up with a crochet hook in the right direction no problems.  So I could have done tinking or ripping, I just didn’t want to.

I’m only 4 rows from actually finishing the durn thing (minus the 1.5″ of ribbing that will fly by because no cabling)….so I did one of the scariest things I’ve done in a while.  Why not make this another opportunity to force myself to do things that have scared the snot out of me before?  Worst case, I have to rip it, which I just established I can do but just don’t want to do.

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I dropped the entire portion of the cable that I’d twisted wrong and pulled it back for the 15 rows and reknit it in place with DPNs in a size smaller than I’m using for the rest of the project — having chubby DPNs worked in my favor for a change (just so I could manipulate the working yarn)!

It took me two episodes of suffering through Logan watching the old Ghostbuster’s cartoon to fix….much faster than tinking and knitting everything again.  It’s slow going because the slack yarn gets really tight at the end and then I had to even out the stitch tension across the row, but it was definitely worth the effort and time saved.

I did have to shift and drop another small section two rows from the top before I finished, but only because I had a cable at the end that ended in purls and the yarn was too tight to finish it properly.  I’d already dropped and fixed 15 rows with 20 stitches each, shifting the last two rows over 10 stitches and redoing them was nothing at that point.

Adjustments

Today was spent adjusting the bookshelf plans I found online to fit the area we wanted then sawing up the wood to match our new calculations.  Hopefully my math works out!  We got most of the pocket holes in before it turned dark and we had to pack everything back inside.

It’s always fun playing with tools and making stuff.

The grape juice tester was too sweet, as I suspected.  Granny Boo used 1 cup of grapes and 1 cup if sugar per half gallon she made but I still think her Concords had a better, more tart flavor.  I made a second tester pint this morning and halved the sugar again and added a few more grapes to try to increase to overall flavor.   It’s ready now, so I’ll crack it open to try with dinner.  🙂

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Our water here is so hard, it makes the cans look awful.  I wonder if adding some vinegar to the bath would keep that down?

Put a little good out into the world.

Bear with me on this post, I didn’t think about it beforehand and it’s hard to tell where my rant will end up before it actually ends.  I’m sure I’ll step on some toes, I usually do.

So, I did a thing that lead to some introspection, as it always does…and then that leads me to the awkward place of both wanting to do more things and wanting to do no things because it feels selfish at the same time.  It’s a weird power struggle.

I don’t know if it’s typical of me or not — some would think it is, some would say it’s not.  I suppose it depends on which side of me that you see.

I am, as a rule, incredibly anti-social.  There are a lot of reasons, but most of it stems from a strong strain of cynicism and, unfortunately, that cynicism reflects on myself as well.  Regardless of how altruistic I intend to be, I get something out of an action.  I get that modicum of joy and satisfaction that I did something good and unasked for.

It’s different when you give somebody $10 to a charity that is begging for it at every checkout in America — that just feels like being nagged out of your money for the unfortunate folks with muscular dystrophy.  Do I still give then?  Of course I do.  I have two cousins that had Duchenne MD (they were brothers) who defied the odds by living into their 50s with the disorder.  They were both fantastic people and I’ve donated every year since I was an adult, first in their honor, now in their memory.

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Not my photo, I totally yoinked it off of one of their Facebook pages so I could share it here.

So even in giving something, you get something in return.  The charity begs through a clerk who doesn’t care one way or another, I write their names on a clover and then I get a little bit of warm-wash in my gut at remembering my cousins.  I also get to hope the money helps out others facing the same hurdles they did…and secretly wish that my paltry $10 goes towards research that will one day find a way to cure or at least mitigate some of the worst symptoms instead of going towards printing out more shamrocks to hang in more stores across the nation.

I always slip money, when I actually have cash on me, into the donation jars of a DAV Forget-Me-Not or VFW Buddy Poppy drive.  I spent so much time a child peddling those little red Buddy Poppies with my Granny Boo that it’s almost an impulse.  The last DAV lady seemed absolutely shocked that a “kid” with wild colored hair and black clothes was handing her money.  I think I have enough of both flowers now that I could probably make a summer wreath out of them and probably should, it would be a pretty tribute on our front door.

Many years ago, when Logan and I first lived together, we fell in love with some foster kids.  One of our friends was a babysitter for social services and I think I spent almost every day at her house playing with the foster kids.  They were all heart-breaking in their own ways, especially knowing the situations they came from.  Logan and I were young and therefore the age of a lot of the kids’ parents, so the kids often opened up to us in a way that they didn’t with their foster parents or their babysitter…even though their parents were often the people that had hurt them, they were all that they had known.  One of the toddlers whose arms were scarred would run to the door to be picked up by me and would want to hold my hand whereas he’d hide them from others.  One of the little girls would let me brush and braid her hair.  One of the little nonverbal boys would shriek with giggles for us, especially when we’d bring our puppy (now hulking huge dog, Thorin) by to play with him.  They’d want to be held, and rocked, and just generally be loved on.

…but there was one set of sisters that absolutely stole our hearts.  The oldest was four and was absolutely in love with her Loooogie (a nickname I still call him).  She was incredibly intelligent and had spent her entire young life watching out for her younger sister, who was sweet and a bit developmentally delayed at the time due to neglect.  One day, as Christmas was approaching, the oldest had curled up in my lap and she asked if Santa existed.  Knowing all that this poor little one had been through, I just asked if her she thought he did, and she hesitated but finally nodded after a few minutes.  She then admitted that she was afraid that Santa wouldn’t know where to find them since they were in foster care (and knowing her foster parents to be miserable human beings, I seconded that sentiment).  My response was that so long as she believed, Santa would always find her.  That Christmas, Logan and I bought gifts for her, her sister, and the other family of foster kids that were staying with them.  Santa was going to find them, hell or high water, even if it was on a part time salary.  The foster parents, of course, changed most of the tags from “Santa” told all the kids that the presents were from them and how hard it was financially for them to buy everything and what a burden they all were.   …but a the important gift made it through.  The little girl got her “puter” (a little VTech laptop that she had told nobody but the library Santa and me that she wanted) from Santa, so the magic stayed alive and a kid that had so much taken from them at such a young age got to have a taste of a childhood a little longer.  Thankfully (or regrettably) the foster parents were deemed unsuitable after bruises were found on the youngest girl and another foster kid testified that they had all been hit at different times.  The girls were then adopted by some of their family members and we received photos of them afterwards — they looked happy (which they never did in foster care), so I’m happy and hope that they’re doing well all these years later.  We still think about both of them often.  The other kids the foster family had were put into emergency custody with our friend the babysitter and she ultimately ended up adopting them, so things worked out for them too.

…but I digress.  With the state of the world, as I perceive it currently, I’ve been feeling a bit helpless lately.  There are so many people hurting and so many things wrong…and people seem to be flipping out over things that are, in my opinion, entirely pointless.  Athletes aren’t standing for the national anthem and suddenly people are having meltdowns?  Shouldn’t we be more worried about the war of words and egos between “Rocket Boy” and “Dotard” that could very quickly escalate into a very real war?  Or what about climate change?  Aren’t those things that should really matter?  I’m just one person who doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things, so what can I do about them anyway?

Put a little good out into the world to try to offset all of the bad that I keep seeing around me daily.  That’s all I can really do.  That’s all I can hope to do with my meager resources and influence.  Just a little good.

Logan works a secretive job, one that I can’t know the specifics.  The whole complex is guarded and I’ve only been on site once, for an approved family day where they opened up the grounds and a few buildings to show people that jobs exist.  To work where he works, you have to be a sole U.S. citizen (not a dual citizen and especially not illegal) and there was a very rigorous security clearance process that involved sending people out to interview almost every single person he knew at the time, myself included.

Why did I even mention Logan’s job?  Because in the wake of the devastation from Hurricane Maria, I feel like citizens of our country are being ignored.  In his small, secluded group that work in a locked, guarded room together, he has two Puerto Rican coworkers.  Two guys in an already select group, that make up a huge organization, so you know the numbers grow exponentially as you spread outwards.

Both guys are floundering currently.  One has no clue if his girlfriend is okay.  The other hasn’t heard anything from his entire family.  Can you even begin to imagine not knowing how your loved ones are?  Most of us start to panic if somebody doesn’t answer the phone or return a text after a few minutes.  It has been almost a week since Hurricane Maria tore over one of OUR territories and left nothing but devastation and heartache in her wake.  Puerto Ricans are our fellow country men and women and we’re leaving them in the dark.  Were Irma and Harvey horrible events?  Sure, but fortunately they weren’t islands.  People still had ways to move about, to reach out and find resources, contact their families, find a safe and sanitary place to sleep.  The outcry for aid was strong and it was all I saw on my social media and news.  After Maria, all I’ve seen is outrage over football players.

…so I’m helpless to help and frustrated at being so useless.

I did the only thing I know how to do.  I did the southern thing (well, what Logan and I perceive to be southern — we haven’t noticed it as a trend up here, so please correct me if I’m wrong!) and I sent them food.  On Monday, Logan went to work with a loaf of pumpkin bread for both of his coworkers.  When somebody has hit a rough patch, you feed them.  It’s one less thing they have to worry about and homemade food is always good for your spirits, right?

When his group is having a particularly hard time on a project, I’ll whip up some cookies or send in a cake.  Logan likes it because it wins him some epic brownie points in a company that seems so highly food-motivated.  …and I get to enjoy that glow of knowing that while I can’t fix their problems or actually do anything to really help them, I maybe took away even a bit of stress, even if it’s just for a minute while they’re nomming down.

There’s where the cynicism comes in though.  Giving should be altruistic, shouldn’t it?  I baked the pumpkin bread because I wanted so desperately to be able to do something for both of those guys and knew that, realistically, there wasn’t a thing I -could- do that would actually be useful.  I can’t afford to fly them down to see their family, assuming they could even get flights home.  I certainly can’t fix the infrastructure or our crumbling political system.  I can only do something I’m moderately good at, which is cooking.  Everybody has to eat.

I still get something out of it, though.  I still get to feel like I helped.  I still get to feel a bit of relief that I did something, anything…  I get to hope that I took their minds off a horrible situation, even for a split second, when Logan surprised them by giving them the pumpkin bread.

…and now, a day later, I get to enjoy the high from complements and thanks I wasn’t seeking.  Or was I secretly wanting that validation?  Is that what drove me to do it?  I hope not.  I’m fairly confident in my ability to cook and bake but I have to admit it’s really nice to have the appreciation.

Logan said one of the guys took his bread to share at a meeting with other Puerto Ricans on Monday to spread the love and they devoured it and sent back loads of appreciation and commendation.  The other guy shared some with his cube-mates and then took the rest home to his girlfriend.  The people there all seem really kind and giving, so I’m glad it was spread around even more. Supposedly Logan was even told he was lucky to have me from a guy who apparently didn’t even like pumpkin.  To be fair, I also know that guy and am fond of him; he’s eaten dinner with us and filched some meat pies I’ve packed for Logan’s lunch before, so at least he has more experience to base his judgement. ;P

Putting a little good into the world makes me want to do it even more.  Again, though, I can’t but question my motives.  Am I doing it for me or for them?  Who am I really helping?

Logan asked if I would make some fried apple pies for him to take to work.  I think he also likes the attention and good will.  I’ll make some this weekend.  I have plenty of apple pie filling I canned last year using Cortlands that we picked.  It shouldn’t take long to whip up a big batch of mini pies.  Most of his coworkers have pretty easy lives, but you never know what is boiling beneath the surface.  Some of them are having issues with their kids, or are suffering from losses, or are just downright lonely or stressed.  It’s weird what little things — tiny little things like a random, homemade fried pie at work can sometimes do to make someone’s day a bit more bearable.

I’m also working on my secret “30 for 30” project.  This December, my sister would have turned 30 years old.  It’s crazy to believe…and even harder to think that she’s not been with us for eleven years now.

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Myself and my sister, probably around 3 and 2.

I want to make 30 pillow cases (I use the “Hot Dog” method) to donate to our local Ronald McDonald House (or possibly the one in New Haven, CT if I venture down that way before then).  We spent a lot of time staying in various houses while either she or Dad were at hospitals.  They’re such a fantastic resource for families and patients and we always loved staying at them, especially the one in New Haven.

The houses are always in need of volunteers and all kinds of supplies, and since I sew and have a bunch of cute children fabric on hand, I thought some pillow cases would be fun.  The house can keep them for the rooms or even give them to the kids so they have something bright to take to the hospitals with them…it really doesn’t matter to me.  We would have loved pillow cases with Miss Spider or Babar on them at either place, so hopefully the kids staying there now will too.  I’ll freely admit that I’d still love a Babar pillow so may make myself one when I’m done. 😛

Maybe that’s enough for me, I should quit analyzing (yah right) my motives and just ask:

If I was in x situation, what would I want somebody who had the same resources/skills available as I do, to realistically do?  What would actually help to make my life a bit better?

…and I think I’ll always settle on the answer:  Put a little good out into the world.

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend

Yesterday was a doozy.  Or, should I be completely lame and call it a doze-y.

I don’t normally sleep a lot but I think I made up for every bit of this year’s lost sleep yesterday.  I went to bed early (for me) around 2 a.m. and woke up around noon…then ate lunch…then went back to bed until 4 p.m.  Oops?

It was supposed to rain all weekend but none of it showed up until today and now we’re expecting flash flooding.  At least the air doesn’t feel as thick as soup anymore.  Yay!

The bright side of sleeping so much is I got absolutely nothing accomplished, which in and of itself is kind of an accomplishment.

Earlier this week when I was at the grocery store, I noticed the white peaches had shown up.  There’s a magical one week window that peaches arrive here that are edible.  The rest of the year, they’re total crap.  They’re green or mealy or in some other way disgusting.  I was horrified when I first moved here and saw that peaches were being advertised as “crispy”.  It made me want to cry.  Seriously.  Cry.  Me.

I hesitantly bought some to try — they had the right look, weren’t hard as rocks (firm, but wouldn’t knock somebody out), and smelt like heaven.  They’re expensive here, 2.99 a pound, but it’s still early in the year and they come from California, so they’ve had a good adventure finding their way to my house.

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It could have used a little longer to be perfect but it’s as happy as peaches here get.  Victory!  When we first met, L didn’t like peaches.  He’d just never had a good one — which is insane since he actually grew up in Georgia — now he enjoys them as well, so long as I pick them out. 😛

I went back last night and dug through every.  single.  peach.  at the grocery store and brought home all the ones that passed my raised-in-the-south peach sniffing nose.  Peaches are my favorite fruit, period; everybody else here apparently doesn’t know what on earth they’re missing out on if they’ll buy them the rest of the year.  I have no shame.

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The newest shipment of peaches is already back to being rock hard with no smell, so this is the last of the fresh peaches I get for the year until the ones back home start to ripen and I force a migration to get a couple of baskets.

I’m pretty sure people at the grocery store think I’m insane.  I always go around thumping on melons, smelling fruit, peeling open corn…and it has to look pretty crazy.  I’m not going to buy an unripe peach or a rotten cantaloupe…  I do have to admit I get a kick out of having people asking what on earth I’m doing and then asking me to help them pick out something….or, best of all, watching a group of people knock on the watermelons after I leave hoping a dormouse will pop out and tell them to pick that one.

As far as the rest of the weekend, I got another birthday card in the mail.  I don’t care that it’s belated — it had shiny floss!  🙂

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Mitzi’s fur is starting to grow back in little fuzzy patches where she had dermatitis.  Of course now that we’re almost done having to put medicine on her face is when she no longer minds it and doesn’t try biting — to be fair, if my face was that sore and infected, I would try biting anybody that tried touching it too.  When I was about seven, I had my molars sealed, and afterwards I told the dentist that the next person to put a finger in my mouth was going to lose it…so I guess there’s a reason they say pets take after their owners.

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I left a little tuft of fur near her nose to hide the fact that she’s naked and sad on that side of her nose (right side of the photo).  The skin looks healthy and pink now and she hasn’t been scratching it.  I thought I would spare everybody the horrors of sad, naked dog skin.

…and while I’m on the topic of pets, when we took the critters to the vet last week, the vet suggested a Furminator for the fat cat.  He’s too fat to properly clean out his undercoat on his back.  The vet said a regular brushes work too since Sagan likes to be brushed but that the Furminators are pretty awesome if we didn’t mind dropping some cash.

We live with the ultimate shedding machine disguised as a big dog, so we decided to just get one.  Nothing else has helped with him, so what did we have to lose, really?  We brushed Thorin a lot in the past (and Sagan pretty regularly too) but man, I’m sold.  It’s not even blow-out season.

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That’s ONE side of Thorin after about five minutes of the Furminator….a week in to being brushed with it every day.   Sagan saw the brush and decided he was going to go ahead and queue up for his brushing too.  I guess he thought if he went ahead and laid in the pile of fur that was the same size as the 13 pound cat that I’d brush him even more? They both love it.

…and since yesterday was Father’s Day.

George Victor Groseclose and Amber Victoria Groseclose (2)

My parents were dropping me off for my first plane ride — I was flying to NY to spend the summer with some cousins.  That summer I lost my southern, hillbilly accent because *nobody* up there could understand a word I said otherwise.  I guess it’s a good thing I did lose the nasal twang since I ended up moving here 16 years later.  My cousins, of course, had moved back home by then.  😛

Oh, hail.

Today was another dreary, rainy day here.

We’re drowning in water.  We’re so saturated that we’re having to have our drop line for our cable (internet, we don’t use it for anything else) replaced because the signal is dying a horrible death every time it rains.  It’s not pretty.

This is what the yard looks like right now:

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That’s the front yard, where it’s normally dry as a bone.  I honestly think I could kayak in my backyard right now.

The white stuff in the yard isn’t some cute little woodruff or clover either, we had a raging thunderstorm that dumped up to quarter sized hail on us this afternoon.

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That’s our back deck with the door wide open.  The deluge overwhelmed our gutters and it was dumping rain like a sheet of water.  I had some of my indoor plants out sunning on our little patio table and they got battered because the storm hit out of nowhere, but I’m sure they’ll recover quickly enough.

Rainy days are good for two things though:  cooking and crafting!

One of my cousins is a north-south half-breed; her father lives way up in Plattsburgh and her mom is one of my cousins in Virginia…and this cousin now lives in Georgia with one of my husband’s best friends — funny how things work, they met at our wedding. 😛  This week, she finally got her grubby little paws on her grandmother’s top secret Michigan recipe…and bless her pea-pickin’ heart, she shared it with her southern (technically Appalachian – “latchun”, not “layshun”) cousin that turned traitor and moved north:  me!  😀  I guess she knew I’d appreciate it and I’d keep the recipe locked up safe and warm.  Plus, I can generally cook.

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That’s a pot of the delicious Michigan sauce!  We, unfortunately, couldn’t find any red hots locally, but I’ll nab some next time we’re in the north country and ferret them back down here.  Hot dogs are good, but they’re just not red hots.

I’m going to freeze the left overs in ice-cube trays and that way we can have individual hot dog serving sizes when we want it.  L is a bit obsessed with hot dogs.

To prove that hot dogs point: L begged for them this week.  Pleaded for hot dogs.  He wanted them soooo badly.  Specifically, he wanted hot dogs on Wednesday. Today.

His work had “Hot Dog Day” today.

He loves them so much that he wanted to cheat the system and have them twice in one day.

Actually, the real pisser about Hot Dog Day was that he volunteered ME, not him, but ME to make potato salad for said party at his work.  He told everybody that I’m southern, so I make a potato salad that’s worth eating — not the crap in the stores like you find here — so I’d make enough potato salad for everybody as his contribution.

If you made a food contribution, you didn’t have to buy your hot dogs.

So I had to make potato salad for TWENTY (!!!) people…so he didn’t have to pay ONE DOLLAR for a hot dog KNOWING that we were having hot dogs for dinner tonight.

I meal plan a week in advance.  He KNEW.  He PLANNED this.

He’s an asshat.

Is it too late for a divorce?

The guy that married us – in a bit irony, the guy that married us is the same guy that my cousin is living with now – said he’d claim the marriage never happened and L forged his signature at any point so long as I’d make him a tasty ham sandwich.  I always have an out!  ;P

Happily, the potato salad apparently went over well.  L said there was so much food that they’re having hot dog day again tomorrow but without potato salad because there is no more.  Logan said that one guy came back for thirds calling it the “pure essence of what potato salad should be” and that then a loosely vegan guy even ended up eating it because everybody else wouldn’t shut up about it?  I’m pretty sure they’re all insane where he works…not just the physicists that think there are werewolves on the lower level.

Since dinner was a slow cooker kind of day and it was too rainy to do anything else, I got to craft!  Hooray!

I finished Chapter 4 of the scarf knitting RPG.  Finally, right?!

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Now I get to invert all the charts and make my way down the other side to finish the adventure.  Officially half way done!

I also sewed some quilt blocks for my Skill Builder.  I was tired (L woke up at 4:30, so I woke up at 4:30) and inverted the green and purple, but I’m the only one that will know that outside of my group.  I’ll just have to fix the images when I do the write-up so the others don’t do the same.  There’s no way I’m cutting out that many templates and resewing that many inset seams just to fix a swapped color on a sampler quilt.  Nope and nope.  😛

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Does anybody know the proper name of that quilt block?

I just threw it up in EQ7 when I was doing the quilt and needed something to really hammer Y-seams home…and lovingly named it “Hellspawn” at the time.  I don’t do a lot of flower-type of blocks, so I’m not familiar with what it would be called or something similar that I could call it a variation of such-and-such.  😛

Finally, in fun news!

Kamelot is coming to the U.S.!!!

I’ve enjoyed them for years, but since Tommy Karevik took over as vocalist.  Mmm, drool worthy.  So far, just two dates have been announced but one is in the City (the other is in Cali), so I guess I’m sucked into going there again.

It’s like a black hole.  I never seem to be able to escape New York City or Atlanta.  Every year, I get sucked back into both, mostly for concerts.  At least I’ve never lived in NYC (and living in Atlanta for a little over a year was waaay more than enough for me!); it’s exhausting just to visit for an event.  Fun…but exhausting.

There’s no way L will let me wait until Kamelot announces other cities and tour dates before buying tickets though; we don’t normally get too many things near us.  They’re one of his big three bands.  If one of our big three comes stateside, we go see them regardless of where we have to go.  We went to Atlanta to see mine.  We’ve been to Birmingham to see one of his.

…and someday, we’re going to end up on an international flight to see a band.  It’s a sinking gut feeling I have. 😛

 

Grumble, Logan, grumble

L was a total jerk and put a chair with a fan on it in my little, narrow walkway around the bed to the bathroom.  There is an entire empty side of the room he could have put it closer to him…but he put it riiight in my path.

I drink well over a gallon of water a day, mostly thanks to my migraine meds.  They make me incredibly thirsty and cause kidney stones, so bring on the water!

Early this morning, when the birds started singing at the crack of dawn, my bladder started singing too.  By some miracle, I avoided the chair and fan on my way out but in my glasses-less sleep stupor, I totally nailed it while stumbling back to bed in the dark.

Totally nailed it.  Face planting, falling, stubbing my toes, reinjuring my almost healed sprained ankle nailed it.

My ankle is tennis ball sized again. 😦  It also hurts in places it didn’t before.

So, instead of being able to sleep in this weekend, L was awakened at the crack of dawn to bellows of pain and surprise…and now he’s outside to escape a very grumpy wife.  He’s actually outside trying to figure out why so many weeds have sprouted in just one spot of the strawberry patch we planted last weekish.

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Should I let him know they’re from the bird feeder he hung above it or just let him wonder forever?

I moved the feeder after a few days (why would you feed birds above your berry patch?!), but the birds had already made enough of a mess to let a nice swath of millet and sunflowers start sprouting though.  XD

Mail and abrupt topic changes…

I love mail!

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This weekend, my signed copy *squeeeeee* of Ayreon’s newest project “The Source” showed up.

I ended up forking it over to L. I felt he needed it more than I did.

While L was mowing on Saturday, he ended up getting poison ivy -he’s highly allergic- on his face near his eye.  Thankfully, I went to gloat about the CD’s arrival and noticed the rash and we were able to stop it before spread INTO his eye.

Not only did he end up with poison ivy on his face, but he also ended up with a nasty case of skeeter syndrome…which I’ve never seen on an adult before.  He also said he’s never had it.  Mosquitoes love L.  He’s the tastiest of tasty to those little blood suckers.

He made the mistake of using my Off instead of his, not realizing what a difference it would make.  I’ve never been bitten by a mosquito, ever.  They just buzz in my ears and near my eyes, so I use a really low level repellent to keep them from annoying me.  Mine has 7% DEET and only lasts for about 2 hours of doing nothing…the stuff he normally uses is 98.5% DEET and lasts for about 10 and through sweaty work, and he still usually gets bitten.  He was eaten alive on Saturday….and is covered in regular mosquito bites and what looks like huge, hard bruises from the ones he reacted to weirdly.  Poor guy.

So I “gave” him my CD, that he knew I had ordered but didn’t know was signed by Arjen Lucassen — whom he fanboys a over as a prog-metal genius (rightfully so) — to make his day a little bit better.  It seems to have worked.  🙂

…and abrupt topic change back to mail!

I’m part of a group on Facebook called Cross Stitchers Unite. It formed last month when another HUGE group for stitchers closed out of the blue due to a fallout with the admin (read: a whole bucket load of drama), so it’s still really new.

One of the things the new group is trying to do is a birthday card exchange so I signed up as a guinea pig for the first month because why not?!

My birthday is next week, so it worked out well.  🙂

I received two cards yesterday!

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L picked up the mail and asked why I was getting random cards then acted a bit panicked when I reminded him my birthday was coming up.

He was surprised random people would be so kind as to send floss through the mail to strangers (even though floss isn’t expensive and I think it’s a wonderfully fun thing to do; I’ll sign up to be a sender another month).

L famously forgot my birthday one year.  Totally and completely forgot it.  Then he forgot to get me anything for Christmas that year as well.  The “one year” happened to be the first year we were married.  It was a disaster.  I’m not a superficial or materialistic, but a card would have been nice…even if he had scrawled something on a piece of paper.

L has since been on a guilt-trip mission to make up for forgetting.  I’m not discouraging this.  I probably egg it on now…a lot.  May is now “birthday month” at my house.  I’m turning into my Dad, who celebrated his birthday all November long. 😛

Last year, when L asked what I wanted, I told him I wanted to see a moose in the wild.  Told you I was milking this.

L is horrible at planning anything.  He *did* manage to get me that moose, though!  We went to Moosehead Lake, Maine (I think I have an old post about it?)

On the first night driving around, lo and behold:

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L makes fun of the photo as my “Bigfoot” version of a moose.  The windows were foggy, it was raining, and the moose was barreling right at our car.  My camera back then was broken and wasn’t saving pictures or focusing right, so I’m lucky to have any photo at all.  He’d bought me a new camera as a birthday gift but, of course, waited until the next day to give it to me — not expecting to see a moose the first night.  We didn’t see another moose.  XD

…but, I digress, as I do every time.

Since I got some floss, I might as well update on my cross stitch project of doom.  I’ve spread out to trying to finish the whole page at a time instead of a 50×50 block.  I think I’ll feel more fulfilled if I can throw something away and breathe a sigh of relief.  It still doesn’t look like much progress but I’m happy with it.  It’s 90 stitches across now, since that’s what fit on the printed page.  I forget how many stitches stretch down the page.  I’ll just not think about that for now. 😛

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This is where it was last time I posted:

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I’ve started to do a bit of cross-country stitching along with the parking and find it’s going faster and am happier that way.  I can do larger blocks and it’s not as thick on the back.  I guess it’s still a learning process with this many color changes to figure out what is going to work for me.  As long as I continue to enjoy it right?  🙂

…and now back to the sort of beginning of the post.

After L pretended to freak out about my upcoming birthday thanks to the arrival of the floss, he decided he wanted to give me a present early.   Presents are fun, so who am I to refuse?!

DUDE!!!

Fellow knitters, you’ll understand just how excited I was when he tossed this my way.  He didn’t wrap it.  He didn’t *have* to.  It’s a little zippered pouch of joy all into itself.

He hit a massive homerun with this one.

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That’s the complete set of ChiaoGoo Twist Red Lace Interchangables in 4″!

*drowns in a puddle of drool*

I looove ChiaoGoo needles and prefer working with circulars to straight needles on most projects.  I only had a few of their needles, all in small sizes, and the two largest lengths of cables, so this is going to drastically alter my knitting habits.

These sound so pretty when they click together.  ❤ ❤ ❤  My hands are itching so, so badly wanting to do something with these!

I already want to start swapping my scarf to these…or just be horrible and cast on something entirely new!

…specifically this Phoenix Wing shawl in Pegasus Chroma from knitpicks with black outlines.  >_>;

I’m going to behave though, for now.  Or try to.  I don’t know how long that will last.  *bites hands*

…and finally, I actually sat at my computer a bit yesterday to catch up on my not-guilty-at-all pleasure show Rupaul’s Drag Race.  It doesn’t make much sense considering the other shows I tend to enjoy (Star Trek, Sherlock, Twilight Zone, Archer, Galavant, Peaky Blinders, Ripper Street, Hell on Wheels, Firefly, that sort of stuff…), but I love it and am not afraid to deny it.

Being at my computer means I finally got to knit a bit!  Last time I’d just finished with the dragon, so I got through another 28 rows of double knit and am just about to start a 30 row dragon, this time a water one, for next knitting session.

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I wish more patterns had you rolling dice to decide what to do.  The randomness is a lot of fun! 🙂

Warning

Mom texted this photo to me yesterday.  I’m not quite sure where she found it, or I’d give appropriate credit to the artist, but I love it and it is so, so, SO appropriate right now.

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Long story short, some of my family (do I have to claim these particular ones?) are idiots. I say that lovingly.  They’re idiots.

That is all.

😀