Showing posts from February, 2017

Shake It Up, Baby

Well, I was so busy patting myself on the back for being desperately adventurous 30 years ago, I took the weekend off from blogging. And really, there was nothing to write about - the only exciting thing I've done in the last 3 days is go to Shake Shack, where I discovered they make tables from defunct bowling alleys. Who knew?

Actually, I don't know why anyone reads this blog. I just called a trip to Shake Shack exciting. Maybe it makes you all feel better about your own lives. I don't know.

After I wrote Friday's post, I thought, Well, maybe I should take another leap. Maybe it's time. So I considered taking college courses in cybersecurity, or maybe accounting. I even went on the Internet and researched it a bit. Then I got distracted by Facebook and nothing happened.

It's a good thing Facebook wasn't around 30 years ago. I'd still be living in my parents' house and working as a secretarial temp.

And now Rachel needs the computer for schoolwork, …


30 years ago today, a very-much-younger, scared, in-college-loan-debt me shipped out to Navy basic training in Orlando, Florida. How I wish I could reach back and tell that person getting on the plane (you know, the one who freaked out her fellow recruit/seatmate during take-off by grabbing her arm and saying, "Oh, my gosh - we're leaving the ground!") that everything was going to be all right. Because, seriously, I wasn't at all sure of that at the time.

No one in my family was in the military (aside from my father's long-ago stint in WWII). All my college friends either had "real" jobs or were on their way to having same. I felt like a failure: college degree but no job, in debt, no real purpose or goals. What the hell was I doing on this plane?

All I knew was that I had to do something.

I hated most of my Navy time. There was, as is the military's wont, a lot of stupid. But I was given a job, one involving skills that could transfer to the "…


Having been raised in the 1970's, a simpler (read we didn't even have microwave ovens) age, I maintain my child-like sense of wonder at all things technology-related. The 21st century is indeed full of marvels for a person who has passed the 50-year mark (that is, moi). Cellphones, Internet, self-closing toilet lids, self-driving cars, have I mentioned cellphones - there is no end of the stupefying signs of human progress.

I mean, if you ignore what happened in the good ol' USA last November, anyway...

So, the latest? Is the lowly toilet paper holder. I didn't even realize until after we finished the master bathroom - the first time I had to change the toilet paper, to be exact:

It would be difficult to overstate my astonishment when I realized the spindle (if you can even call it that now) lifted up on a hinge and involved no spring mechanism; it was akin to the feeling I had when someone first showed me she could take photos on her phone and then send those photos st…

Say It With Egg Cartons

It was a yarn-y sort of weekend, plus Theo drove up from Ft. Bragg to visit (he had a 4-day weekend), which meant I cooked a lot (Susie to Theo: "Mommy NEVER cooks for us!"), and you folks ended up getting the shaft.

Let's see, pot roast on Friday and then blueberry muffins Saturday morning and egg salad for lunch and then I went out all afternoon to meet friends and knit at a local yarn store, which also was having a 20% off sale, which, well, you know...

Let's just say some money changed hands, okay?

Sunday morning I made applesauce breakfast cake and then cooked up a white bean/chicken chili for my beloved family before abandoning them so I could join up with friends to knit all afternoon while eating donuts and gummy bears and bagels.

Knitting is not necessarily a healthy lifestyle, you know, despite all that fiber.

Ba-da-bum! Thank you folks, I'll be here all week.

What with all this knitting time I am getting in, you would think I'd be completing some pr…

Spousal Deafness

The contractor finished the guest bathroom in the basement and it is truly gorgeous. I swear, the first kid that dares to use it will be disowned.

So let's just ignore the rest of the basement, which is in a thousand pieces and will never, ever become the comfortable, clutter-free family room of my dreams. IGNORE IT. Because this is the weekend Larry takes everything out of the laundry room and dumps it in the family room. One would think that perhaps this would be the perfect time to take all that crap and load it in a truck and drive it off a cliff somewhere, but no - Larry persists in the illusion that he will actually use that stuff someday.

"Listen," I told him today. "Once this basement is done, there is nothing left to do to the house. Have you realized that? You've done it all! So we don't need to keep all those tools and building supplies in the laundry room anymore."

He didn't answer me. I think that man should work on his communication s…

Off Color

You know, I thought it would be easy to select a paint for the basement bathroom, because I just needed a color that was white. Not stark white, but almost white. See? I knew what color I wanted. And then I went to the paint store and saw this:

Yeah, pretty overwhelming. I'm proud to say that, even in the face of overwhelming odds, it only took me 4 tries to find the right shade (and I didn't even need the handyman's help this time). The color is called mayonnaise (Benjamin Moore), in case you want to know. And here's the result:

The paint's subtle undertones pick up the brown in the tiles and provide a nice segue to the marbled vanity top. Or so I've heard.

Now I get to move on to selecting paint colors for the entire walk-out basement, laundry room, and guest room. I'll tell you one thing - there will be absolutely no off-white involved.

No Monkeying Around

I was halfway through my day today before I remembered that we have a Valentines Day tradition of making Rice Krispy marshmallow treats with cinnamon red-hots. So Susie and I made an emergency Rice Krispy run to the grocery store and then came home and made these:

While in the store, we took time to laugh at all the desperate-looking gentlemen in the flower section. Larry said he saw a lot of the same when he swung into Trader Joe's after work. I felt constrained to point out that he was one of them.

But I won't complain about that, because he brought me excellent chocolate and a bouquet of pretty flowers (the stems of which are pictured here, because I am apparently not enough of an artist to take a decent picture of a bunch of flowers AND I am too lazy to get up and take a better photo).

After the gift-giving (I bought Larry a chocolate eclair drizzled with some pink icing, because that's the sort of really personal gift you get someone you've known for almost 27 yea…

If Michelle Could Handle It, So Can I

So today Larry paused as he was heading out the door for work. "I'm thinking about staying home from work tomorrow," he said.

"Really?" I said. Seriously, this rarely happens. And then I thought, Oh, hey, tomorrow is Valentines Day! Wow, that's sweet.

"Yes," he said. "Andy will be here to work on the basement and I think we could get a lot done together."

"Oh," I said. "Um, of course..."

So there you have it - a budding bromance, nurtured over sheets of insulation and plywood. I guess I'll just take myself out to lunch tomorrow.

[Obama and Biden image: YouTube]

Chaos Reigns

Today I was racing along, trying to finish the Reyna shawl so I could go on to some other, tastier, scarf I have my eye on. I was making good time and even daring to calculate how much longer I would be shackled to this particular project when I looked down and discovered several live stitches hanging in midair, sans needle.

This is the point in the story where, if you are a knitter, your heart skips a beat.

Turns out that my almost-new size 4 circulars, sensing my elation at nearing the end of my project, decided to shut that right down. Because, really, this project is jinxed. Yesterday, I spent half an hour of what should have been productive knitting time untangling a snarl of yarn barf, and this:

That's right, the cord separated from the needle. Coincidence? I think not. So, yeah, that project is in time out until it decides if it really wants to become an attractive summer shawlette or remain a shapeless ball of yarn. Sometimes, you've just got to show these pr…

House Makeover: True Crime Edition

That basement bathroom of ours being renovated? The one that had 45-year-old fixtures, 1980's wallpaper, and the ugliest green linoleum floor you can imagine? It's starting to look so beautiful, it almost makes me want to cry. Tears of gratitude and relief, to be sure, that we don't have that eyesore to look at anymore; but also tears of regret, that we didn't do this sooner. I should have robbed a bank or something, just to get the money. It would have been worth it.

I love this room beyond measure.

I wish I could say the same for the rest of our formerly functional basement. It's still in what I like to call the haunted house phase of renovation: exposed cinder block walls, wires hanging out, floor ripped up. It looks like a great place to hold a murder right now.

I don't know why I wrote that. I don't even know what that is supposed to mean. All I know is that I now have a bathroom that brings to mind a bank robbery and a basement that screams out for a…

$1000 Would Buy A Lot Of Yarn

My 8-year-old Sienna's been making a weird noise when I turn the wheel to the left, just a vibration really. So, naturally, I ignored it. For months. Only now it is louder, to the point where, if I turn left and accelerate, it's hard to hear the person talking to me in the car.

Yeah, that's loud. And embarrassing.

So I dropped the van off at the garage today and walked home, hoping against hope that it was, I don't know, a loose screw or something. Maybe a loose metal part rattling. Anything, so long as it was cheap.

We know that's not how this ends, right? The car guy called me and started talking about hub bearings and axle ends and boots, and right there I knew I was in trouble.

"Can it be something cheaper sounding?" I interrupted him.

"Um, no, ma'am," he said.

So I made him explain it all to me again, so I could explain it to Larry. I even asked questions, responsible consumer that I am. "What do you mean the axle is leaking? I tho…

Bread And Breakfast

I cleaned out the bread cabinet yesterday and discovered that my children must have adopted a new religion, one that honors empty bread bags and forbids disposal of same:

Granted, as a kid these were useful (hey, Congresswoman Joni Ernst wasn't the only one who used bread bags inside of shoes or galoshes - it was actually a pretty common thing in the 60s); but for some reason they are able to make boots and shoes more waterproof now, and the lowly breadbag has lost its secondary purpose in life. I tossed all these, but not without a twinge of nostalgia for simpler times, when an empty bread bag MEANT something.

Oh, wait, Congresswoman Ernst wore the bread bags OUTSIDE her shoes. So there's your difference between New Jersey and Iowa - I guess we East Coasters were more fashion conscious.

In other news, I made both Susie and Brian (AND myself) a healthy hot breakfast today. My children, accustomed as they are to single-serving yogurt, cold cereal, and cold (but homemade!) grano…

A Winner, Finally

Remember this post? The one about my discovering that there were Christmas decorations still hanging in my house, unnoticed by moi? The one I ended with the sentence, "What else am I missing, I wonder..."

Well, I need wonder no more:

Yup, in my kitchen. Where I spend approximately 50% of my waking hours. I DID NOT NOTICE THIS.

For heaven's sakes, it's February already. I have had guests in my kitchen several times in the past couple of weeks. Apparently, they thought it not worth mentioning. Or maybe they are planning an intervention. I really don't know.

And, believe it or not, I've finally gotten around to counting up all the people interested in the Yarn Harlot book (hey, you all commented in 3 different places, so it was confusing, okay?) and cranked up my trusty old random number generator. The winner is someone with the Blogger handle of upnitestx, who recently wandered over here from the Yarn Harlot's blog. Nice to meet you, upnitestx! Please email…

Infectious Waste

Now there's a snappy post title...

I don't even know what day it is, for heaven's sake. Susie's been sick all week with a low-grade fever and constant headache and terminal complaining, and then I picked up some sort of stomach bug yesterday afternoon, which was delightful, but hey, at least I had a new, sparkling-clean toilet to be sick on.

Gotta find happiness where you can, folks.

So I'm spending the day STARVING to death and knitting and watching I Love Lucy on Amazon Prime with Susie. The knitting is an attempt to use up all my sock-yarn remnants - in theory, that thing there to the right will eventually be a colorful lap blanket. In theory.

Oh, and the contractor came back on Wednesday and tore our basement bathroom apart. It looked so bad to begin with that it really doesn't look much worse right now. He's still in the house today, working away, while we feel like hell. I had to get up before 7 and be fully showered and dressed and have the bedroom n…

Don't Forget To Duck

Remember this? Larry's plan to destroy our basement?
Well, I'm thinking Larry has gone around the bend, insulation-wise. As most of you know, he has spent the better part of the last 4 years tearing the drywall from every single outside wall in this house and filling the space behind it with 3 inches of insulation. A couple of weeks ago, he started in on the walk-out basement. A few nights ago I ventured downstairs into the construction zone and saw this:

That's right - he's putting insulation on the floor. When I asked him about it, Larry claimed it would prevent condensation and humidity. He said all the DIY guys are doing it - he read it on the Internet.
Why don't I find that reassuring?
Since then, he has added a layer of plywood. He still needs to install the actual flooring. "You know, Larry," I said, "it won't affect me, but you're pretty tall. And the basement ceiling is low. You might want to rethink this."
"No, it'll …