Sunday, May 19, 2019

A Few More Things Before I Disappear Again

So a long time ago I imagined myself a gardener, which didn't work out so well. But I never totally gave up, settling for 6 or 7 planting containers on our back deck. Mostly, at this point, I buy a bunch of basil and tomato plants at the local farmers market, and I plop them into those pots on the deck and water them when I remember.

Easy, right?

Only, no. You'd THINK it was easy, but it turns out that even if the dirt is contained in a pot, you still have to weed it and dig through it and add compost and I don't know what all. In short, if it is 87 degrees and 1050% humidity, it's JUST AS MISERABLE to be planting things in a container garden on your deck as it would be in a regular garden.

Harder than it looks

Just thought I'd let you all know that before you run out to Home Depot and buy yourselves a bunch of pots and a few bags of dirt. You're welcome.


While I was working at the yoga center this morning, Larry went outside and heroically dug up all the nettle plants that have mysteriously appeared in our front yard. He also attacked the remnants of the weird-smelling, variegated ivy that keeps showing up and trying to take over. Brian pulled up most of the ivy last week as a Mother's Day present, but every time we look outside, there's more.

Plants are scary.

All this to say, Larry and I seriously discussed getting rid of all the vegetation and just putting in a stone patio already. Please note, we live in a townhouse, with a townhouse-sized yard. We shouldn't be having a problem staying on top of yard maintenance, is what I'm saying. But the truth is, we CAN'T HANDLE the plants.


The CDC never showed up to deal with things, so today I cleaned out my fridge. It was pretty much as bad as you can imagine. No, worse, actually. Who knew tortillas could expire? And we just won't talk about the condiment situation, all right? Suffice it to say that ChikFilA polynesian sauce doesn't keep as well as you think it might.

I ended up with an empty shelf. This is a new experience for me.



Saturday, May 18, 2019

A Lot Happens In A Month, You Know?

Hi! I'm still employed, which makes me a tad busier than I used to be, so when a friend of mine raved about how her Roomba does all the vacuuming for her, my ears perked up, as it were. I mean, short of a live-in housekeeper, that sounds like the next best thing, right? She sent me her model number, and hey, Rachel has an employee discount at Best Buy...

Have I even told you folks that Rachel (she of the decapitated-stuffed-animal obsession) works at our local Best Buy now? Being a very confident and take-charge sort of person, she does an excellent job there, if I do say so myself. Only, at least once a shift, a customer asks if she is Australian.

No, we don't know why.

Where was I? Oh, yes, Roomba. So I let Larry know that I want a Roomba, thinking he'd be on board with anything that would keep the house cleaner than I've been keeping it the last few months.

Because I have a job now. Have I mentioned that?

"Did you see the link I sent you?" I asked Larry, as we walked to a local pizza place that evening, because I don't cook anymore.

"What? No," he said.

"The Roomba! I sent you a link to one at Best Buy and..."

I saw him starting to shake his head.

"What's wrong with a Roomba?" I asked. "I mean, it's a little expensive, but..."

"It maps the whole house and sends data back to the company, " Larry said, with his technology-is-evil frown on his face.

Sigh. Considering Larry's reaction to his Father's Day gift two years ago, I'm thinking I'm not going to win this one.


In other news, I made the kids go with me and Larry on Mother's Day to see The Diary of Anne Frank performed by a local theater group. Because what better way to celebrate your mom than going to see a play where almost everyone ends up murdered by the Nazis?

We Jews know how to enjoy ourselves, is what I'm saying.

Before that, at the beginning of May, Larry and Susie and Brian and I went to Alabama for David's college graduation. That's right - the kid who spent his childhood building rocket ships out of empty oatmeal containers and flying kites he made out of fishing line and plastic grocery sacks is now an honest-to-goodness rocket scientist.

An employed rocket scientist, no less...

We left Rachel at a friend's house, because she couldn't afford to miss that much school, and then she came down with a really bad cold and missed school anyway. So, just for the record, she gets sick for all her brothers' graduations. And we were secretly relieved that this time around, she wasn't breathing her germs all over us in the car for 11 hours.

Stopped at Sonic, because we were in the South and that's how you do

Happily, we managed to stay in hotels the whole trip (no risking a camping fiasco again!) without a repeat of the incident from Theo's graduation in 2013, when Larry and I were woken out of a sound sleep at 2 AM by a knock on our motel door (which opened directly to the parking lot). Larry leapt up with alarm and peered through the peephole, only to see a very confused-looking Brian standing OUTSIDE.

Really, staying at a motel next to a busy highway is not the optimal time to discover that one of your kids walks in his sleep.

So, yeah, no sleepwalking, no kid with croup - it was almost the way a family trip is supposed to be. You know, fun? And not terrifying? I could get used to that.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Back In The Saddle

I don't even know how to get back to writing here, so I'm just going to jump right in and we're all going to pretend I haven't been missing for 3 weeks, okay? Thanks.

It's spring here.

One tiny box of neatness

I Marie Kondo'ed my handknit socks. They are the ONLY thing that I have (or ever will) Marie Kondo. When things are a mess, I open my sock drawer to gaze upon this testament to order and find the will to go on.

Speaking of socks (and, uh, disorder), I had to rummage through my clean clothes in the laundry basket this morning to find some socks (because I had worn all the Marie Kondo'ed ones, and how many times am I going to say that poor woman's name, I wonder?), and it took me NINE TRIES to fish out the second sock of a pair. I mean, what are the odds?

Even though it feels as though I have no time to do anything now, I still knit, because sanity is very important to me. This cowl is a Christmas present for a friend. Christmas 2018, but hey, who's keeping track of that sort of thing, anyway?

Hummus - it's not just for breakfast anymore. Susie has been pretty much living on this stuff, because she's vegetarian and I don't cook anymore and she is tired of eggs and grilled cheese. Theo found a place that makes really superb hummus (NOT the Sabra kind) and brings us a container on the weekend when he visits. He also brings us zatar-seasoned pita chips (pictured above), which are hard to describe, so just take my word for it - they're delicious.

The working life is still amazing, although I don't see how any family manages a 2-career thing with younger kids in the house. Larry and I are taking parental neglect to new levels here, and trying to organize doctor appointments and rides to activities for the 2 offspring still living in our home just might drive us around the bend.

We're lightweights, is what I'm saying. Some people are just not cut out to be power couples, all right?

Friday, March 22, 2019

I'm Terrible At Craig's List

YES, I'm still here. Just...well...still adjusting, is all. My house is still falling apart around the edges, since it appears that vacuuming/Swiffering once a week, along with wiping down the bathrooms once a day, is not quite enough to keep things, well, quite where they're supposed to be. My only goal for cleanliness levels in my home at this point is "not disgusting."

Which lowers the bar from my previous goal of "not embarrassing." I know, I am an inspiration to us all.

I have, however, gotten better at ignoring the mess while I work from home. Progress? I guess so. But I have to admit I felt a twinge when a friend informed me that she is planning to move (locally, thank goodness) soon. They're downsizing, so she's getting rid of things, and their new kitchen looks all sleek and modern, and there's no yard to care for, and I thought, "That's the solution - we'll just move! Fresh start!"

Larry didn't go for that idea. As discussed in these pages previously, that man is not a visionary.

Here, have some tulips

My desk search for my home office dragged on and on, until I inexplicably ended up with just the Craig's List meth-house desk I had been trying to avoid. I don't really understand it, but there it is, in my yarn studio, looking ugly, in the middle of all that pretty, pretty yarn I have no time to play with now. I think I had consented to it because it was cheap and I figured that that way Larry would stop sending me links to ugly desks on Craig's List. Good plan, right?

No. He still sends me those links, because it's a habit now, and I work at the dining room table, because the desk just isn't right (not just the looks, something about the keyboard tray being a part of the desk and not sliding out and that changes the ergonomics, and also, yeah, it's ugly).

But then the friend who is moving into the nice, sleekly modern house with big windows (and, really, I'm jealous at this point, okay?) mentioned she was getting rid of a desk and did I want it and I said, "YES!" because she's not the type of person to buy a cheap, ugly meth-house desk ever.

I'm just going to keep repeating the phrase "meth-house desk" - I like it. I should get some lovely Internet search traffic from it, too.

So now there is a disassembled metal-and-glass, not ugly, desk in my van, which I couldn't get into the house yesterday because it was raining insanely hard ALL DAY and I live in a townhouse that is miles from the parking lot. Or, it seems like miles when it's pouring out, anyway. Also, it has been raining here since approximately last June, and could it stop now, please?

I want to write more, and also figure out the winner of the Yarn Harlot book, but I'm already half an hour late to work, and this really explains why I haven't been able to talk at you people for the past month. So, I'll be back, but in the meantime, if you want to be in the running for a copy of "Knitting Rules," go back and comment on the previous post and let me know!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Telework's Not All It's Cracked Up To Be

Well! I would have posted last weekend, but Larry has this weird fixation on "doing taxes" and "staying out of jail," so I worked on our 1040 instead. That wasn't fun. Turns out we owe money because what one spouse means when she says (after doing the taxes for 2017), "You should lower the number on our withholding" and what the other spouse hears are apparently two different things.

We're both native English speakers, you know. There's no excuse for this. Yet, here we are.

PERFECT representation of our crappy winter this year
We had a snow day this week (Look away, Midwesterners! You wouldn't have even recognized it as such), so I actually got to work from home all day instead of going to the office.

Remember? I have a job. Maybe I haven't mentioned it enough...

So I worked from home on Wednesday, and you know what? It wasn't nearly as relaxing and energizing as NOT working from home. Seems that when you're working from home, you can hear the laundry calling you, and you can see what a mess your house is, and people keep talking to you and asking you things, and you can't avoid noticing that strange smell emanating from the refrigerator.

Found this in my fridge - from December, maybe?
Now, as some of the more astute among you may be aware, I am slated to start working at home within the month. This is a telework position, after all. Oh, sure, they'd let me stay at the office if I really wanted to, but there's this small issue of my having completely abandoned my children for the past 2 months just to get this job (with all my friends valiantly picking up the slack of supplying rides and entertainment and what-have-you). I can't keep doing that.

I mean, I thought about it, but...

So, yeah, I'm bracing myself for a major adjustment period. I mean, how DOES one continue blithely ignoring all other responsibilities while working from home? Is that issue addressed in those career women magazines I've never read, because I've been too busy being unemployed? Do those magazines even exist anymore?

Happily, Brian will be home the first week of March (for "Spring" Break, apparently); so I told the tech people at work that I needed the monitors and other equipment by then, so my teen could set them up for me. Which, it turns out, may have been oversharing, because they looked at me strangely...

Look, you have to hook things all TOGETHER. With a special thing that you plug into another thing. Dammit, people, I'm a wordsmith, not a tech wizard.

So, anyway, I have to find a desk to stick in my yarn studio, so Brian has somewhere to set this all up. Larry found a perfectly nice corner desk on CraigsList, but he put that in the guest bedroom in the basement, which I've also dubbed his study, even though he doesn't really ever go in there. Now all that's left on CraigsList is astonishingly ugly. I swear, all the pictures on there look so seedy, as if they were taken in a meth house or a murder scene.

I'm just babbling now, ignore me. Larry always does.

Speaking of my yarn studio (we were speaking of that, right?), I'm a little late for my annual giveaway of the Yarn Harlot's book Knitting Rules. Of course, I don't have THAT many regular readers, so maybe I've given everyone a copy already? If not, throw your name in the hat (well, in the comments, actually) and make sure I have a way to reach you if you win!A

This book (as I've explained before, and also here, and probably a dozen other places) was a life-changer for me, which really, how many books can you say that about? I can't even remember why I picked it up in the first place - maybe I was looking for an instruction book? And, yes, it does have some patterns (or more like recipes, really) for projects, but those are interspersed with all sorts of funny ruminations on the knitting life and the creative process.

It's a fun read, is what I'm saying, and maybe it will change your life, too. Who knows?

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Before And After

Apparently, I post once every two weeks now, whether I have anything to say or not.

Is it possible to feel exhausted and energetic all at the same time? Apparently. I look forward to work each day, I come home tired but feeling very accomplished. Okay it's a little hard to get up at 6:30 every morning, but hey, it's dark out! I bet even Kimmy Schmidt hates getting up in the dark.

The house is sort of falling apart around the edges, and I try to catch up on the weekends, but currently there are two baskets of laundry in my bedroom, waiting to be put away, and a ton of dust under my bed, threatening to choke me in my sleep if I don't start Swiffering. Also, there are approximately 40 dozen winter coats in our hall closet, and there are only 4 people currently living in this house. Why? I know not why, and I don't have time to find out.

We won't talk about the refrigerator, okay? Lord knows what's happening in there. We'll just let the CDC sort that out.

All my IRL friends are tired of hearing me talk about how I love having a job, and I don't blame them. So I'll just say it here: I love having a job. It helps that I'm doing something I enjoy, and I get to work with fairly interesting people, and the hours are somewhat flexible. But what I hadn't realized is how, before I was working, my day was filled with unrealistic (for me) expectations: there were a zillion things I didn't get to, and WHY didn't I get to them? AFTER ALL I HAD NOTHING ELSE TO DO.

What I'm saying is, the self-talk was pretty negative, and constant, and I didn't even realize it was there. It was even stealing the joy from my knitting. WHY WASN'T I GETTING MORE DONE? I HAD ALL DAY.

January socks
But now, with full-time work? I have a finite number of things expected of me on a day-to-day basis: go to work, come home, play with Susie (she's on a Yahtzee kick), drive/nag Rachel (yes, she still lives here, but with a breathtaking amount of disdain for her housemates, as befits a 16-year-old girl), make sure the fridge has some basic comestibles in it.

That's it. If I do cook dinner, well, it qualifies as an amazing feat. Yay, me! (Whereas, BEFORE, I was SUPPOSED to cook dinner. ALL THE TIME. See the difference?)

Yes, we HAVE seen this recipe before, but this time? I'm amazing for cooking it
Having a job has pared down the number of things expected of me to a manageable number. Who woulda thunk it? I swear, I feel lighter than I have in years.

None of this is ha-ha funny (and I do prefer to make people laugh), but I wanted to write it down here, in case there is anyone else out there who is feeling dragged down but doesn't know why. You might just be suffering from a case of irrational expectations, is what I'm saying. I'll repeat: BEFORE, the self-talk was pretty negative, and constant, and I didn't even realize it was there. 

I mean, I (unwittingly) fought past it pretty well. I took care of the house, I took care of the kids, I pretended I didn't mind feeling as though I was always dropping the ball (ALL THE BALLS). But it's tiring, all that fighting. No wonder I feel so much more energized now - it's as if someone took 20 pounds of weight off me.

Now if I could just lose the actual 20 pounds that have attached themselves to me since menopause...but hey, I guess that's why God invented spandex...

Coming up next time: Larry makes me do taxes. Also, my favorite shapewear. I know! Riveting!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Being Employed Is Nice

Oh, uh...hi! Looks as though it's been almost (gasp) 2 weeks since we talked. That's what having a new career will do to a person, I guess. She just abandons everyone she's ever known as she walks into the sunset with her company-provided laptop and backpack.

Or not. I've just been a little overwhelmed by this major lifestyle change. And now I'm overwhelmed by the thought of trying to catch you up with everything, so why don't we just dive into a random list, okay?

1. I got my first paycheck yesterday (direct deposit doesn't kick in for a bit). I brought it back to my little cubicle and took a picture of it, because...well...exciting. Then I thought, "Gee, that looked pathetic." So I felt way better when I caught the other new editor (who is younger than me and has always worked) doing the exact same thing. I like that woman.

2. I know that after 6 weeks or so, I'm supposed to be able to telework, but can I tell you something? After all these years at home, I love, love, LOVE going into the office. There's plenty of tea, and a cafeteria downstairs, and people to talk to and - best of all - I can sit at my desk and FOCUS on my work. Do you know how long it's been since I've been able to focus on just one thing? It's so darn relaxing. Seriously. I can FEEL my brain going "A-a-ahhhhh." I never want to multitask ever again.

3. There's an IT guy at work (did I mention I have a job?). When there's a problem with my computer, he comes to my desk and fixes it. If I need something like headphones or whatever, he gives it to me. When he hooked up my laptop to a couple of bigger monitors and showed me how to use all the screens at once, I told him, "You're even better than having a teen around!" I'm not sure he knew what to do with that statement.

4. Yes, I still have kids. They're around here somewhere.

5. Larry's adjusting well. Remember, he's spent 27 years with someone manning the home fires, as it were, sort of keeping track of everything (like, uh, where ARE those kids, anyway?). But he's managing to roll with the Costco-prepared dinners and my not knowing where the heck his laundry is and just the general weird feeling that things have changed. He's a champ. But we all knew that already, right?

I do still cook sometimes (full disclosure: IKEA meatballs)

6. It snowed here at some point, but then it got washed away by rain. Lots of rain. I need to move north.

Picturesque, right? It didn't last long.
7. Susie  and I could not figure out how to fit our light-up deer back into the box. We briefly discussed leaving it up year round, but decided against it. Larry amused himself for a time by moving it around the house and scared the bejeezus out of me when I walked into my yarn room one night.

Why does this look SO CREEPY indoors?
8. And, in keeping with my newfound habit of getting to bed at a reasonable hour, I need to sign off. I'm exhausted. Because of my job. Oh, did I tell you about my job?

Friday, January 11, 2019

Kindness Just Kills Me

Again, quickly, because I seem to have turned into a responsible person who goes to bed at a reasonable hour every evening. Amazing what a job will do for a person, huh?

I've gone to work 5 days in a row now. I thought it would wear me out, but it's actually almost relaxing - after 27 years of structuring my own day, every single day - to have someone else structure my time for me. I got home this evening at 5:00 and had the energy to chop veggies and make dinner, which is bizarre, because (for the last 3 decades) the absolutely LAST thing I could do was start dinner prep at the late hour of 5 PM. I was too exhausted by that point.

Seriously, people, I used to prep dinner in the morning, just because I knew I'd be a zombie by 4.

So, yeah, I'm liking this new lifestyle.

Wednesday's dinner - but, hey, I baked the cornbread!
On Day 2 of My New Life, I received a free laptop and a nifty backpack to carry it in. I was trying to play it cool when the training guy handed me and the other newbies these items, but the other new editor felt no such compunction. "Oh, wow!" she said. "What a cool backpack! Look at all the pockets!"

She's totally my people.

So, yeah, an exciting week, marred only slightly by Larry's insisting that I max out my 401K contributions (translation: I don't get to fritter away all my earnings on yarn and Nando's). I'm going to be pissed off if I drop dead early and don't get to use that money, though.

And can I give a shout-out to my friends, who have stepped up to make sure Susie isn't left alone at home doing workbooks (or not) all day? In a month or two, I'll be allowed to telework; but until then, I have to go into the office every day. I was worrying and worrying about Susie, and somehow not thinking to, oh, I don't know, ask people for help. They came riding to the rescue anyway, thank goodness. So many of them...

Really, I've made pretty good friends over the years, and I get sort of weepy thinking about it. These people are inconveniencing themselves, repeatedly, just so I can start something new at age 55, which is...I can't even find the right words, they're all inadequate...such an incredible gift. An incredible, undeserved gift.

Dammit, this is making me cry. I love you, guys, you're amazing. And Susie loves all the food you feed her. But she lets you know that, I'm guessing...

Monday, January 07, 2019

Working Girl

Bye, Christmas! 

Just quickly, because I'm tired and I have to go to work in the morning...

[Pause while I giggle softly to myself]

My first day of full-time work in 27 years was today and it was just orientation, but hey - I got a water bottle with the company logo on it! I felt irrationally pleased by that. Also, my ID photo did not suck, which is a big plus. Now if I could just do something about that driver's license photo...

The entire day, I felt as though I were Rip Van Winkle-ing it. The last time I had a job, my ID was just a picture. Were magnetic strips even a thing back then? This time - well, I don't even know yet what that card can do.

Last time I had a job, I didn't have to sit through a half-hour presentation about cellphones and social media use at work, because social media didn't exist and cellphones were rudimentary at best. I mean, picture it - you couldn't do anything on your work computer back then but work. I know, quaint!

Last time I had a job? I wasn't pleased as punch to be in a room full of grown-ups, because I hadn't been deprived of that particular experience for, oh, 27 years. Today? I was downright giddy.

And on and on and on...

So I was sitting on the couch this evening, trying to catch up on some reading, when the thought hit me: I'm going back in tomorrow. Like, that's 2 days in a row. Weird. It's as if it's my job or something.

No, I don't know what's wrong with me, either.

During orientation, we all had to hand in some identification for employment purposes, and then I watched as the admin aide came back in the room later and returned the passport to the guy next to me, and then the woman next to him, and so on. I waited patiently, but sometime after she had left, I raised my hand and asked the nice HR lady when I would be getting my passport back.

Passports are important, you know. You have to keep your eye on them. Especially if, like me, you're trying to impersonate an organized person with a full-time job...

The HR lady looked puzzled and said she thought that all the IDs had been returned. "I didn't get mine back yet," I insisted, in front of all those other grown-ups I was thrilled to be around, and then (and only then) I checked my purse. Wherein lay my passport. "Oh, uh, never mind!" I told her. "Ha, ha, it's right here, just forgot..."

No, really, you made the right choice hiring me. No worries!

In other news, we got rid of our Christmas tree yesterday; and, judging from this news item, that was not a moment too soon. Next year? We're going artificial, for sure.

Happy New Year! (Legos by Susie)