09 November 2006


What a happy, happy day!

The election results in the States are back (well most of them anyway) and the Democrats are winning! Currently they control the House and the Senate. When I say currently, I mean right this second, as I am writing this. Let's hope it sticks.

The weather turned yesterday - it started to rain, as I knew it would because today is bin day. Save for a couple of times this summer, it has rained every damn time that I've had to take out either the trash or the recycling. Every damn time. All the rest of the week: sunshine, breezy, glorious brisk Autumn weather; bin day: bloody rain.

I spent most of the day cleaning. I cleaned out the drawers of a French bombe dresser so that I could finally move the last of my clothes out of the plastic drawers that have been serving as my dresser for the better part of the last six months. It was time to move my things into a big girl dresser and today I did just that. I was very pleased with myself. Pleased that I got one more thing checked off the list, pleased that I got the last of the things I needed to get out of my side of The World's Ugliest Built-In Wardrobes, so that I could have someone come in and rip those ugly mothers out, so that I can start sleeping in peace without them looking at me. They creep me out, those wardrobes, they are vile and I don't know how they got there. Someone has bad taste. Not me, they were there when I got here.

One more thing checked off the list. Bush kicked into touch.

Happy day.

06 November 2006

Long Days Journey Into Putney

London is a very long way from where I live. The most direct train leaves the city of Preston, which is 25 minutes away from the village where I live, and arrives in London 2 hours and 45 minutes later.

And that's the train that doesn't stop before London Euston.

I know, I know, it isn't really all that far away - it's closer than Sacramento is to San Jose by train - it's all psychological; it just emphasizes how far away this very little village is from all things modern and metropolitan. I live in Blue Rinse Central, or in my own WB-esque sense of humor, Oldville.

Oldville is nothing like Smallville - no meteor shower has ever bestowed special powers on the people of this town, there are no hunky supermen, no weirdo billionaires, but there are dozens of overly-made up, crackpot wannabe-vixens.

I hadn't fully realized the implication of living in such a small village, with such an elderly population until I started going about my day-to-day activities. You see, the upside to not working is that you can get your shopping done during the day - Scottish raspberries, mackerel fillets, fruit, veg and pikelets and you're on the way back home before 11 a.m. The downside to shopping during the day when you live in Old Wrinklyville is that it takes from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. to get those things because you spend 65 percent more time trying to navigate aisles that are clogged with tottering old betties desperately trying not to clean their own clocks with jars of pickled onions or potted beef. Their shopping trolleys are cocked at odd angles and the aisles look strangely reminiscent of the parking lot. Very old men are attempting to take direction from equally old women who are trying to determine the actual number of canned peaches you get per pence and whether they should splurge on the market brand or a more generic (if possible, and it is!) brand. Neither can hear the other, she can't walk over to the other side of the aisle and he can't read the can, they are too far apart to hand things to one another and all I want is my damn Carob Crunch made by a carbon-neutral, environmentally-friendly company so that I can get to the meat aisle and get wafer-thin organic ham before they run out (not bloody likely!). Hrrrrumph!

So, despite the fact that it takes nigh three hours to get there by train - made longer by the fact that if I don't rush onto the train and nab one of the few unreserved seats I'll have to stand the entire way - I headed off to London to have a hair consultation, visit a yarn shop that I'd found on the net and get the hell out of Oldville for a while.

The hair consultation was fine. I made an appointment for two days later an am looking forward to having something other than braids for a while. My own hair is a little too long to braid it into the style that I like, so it's time to make a change.

The real treat was Stash. Man, have I missed good yarns shops. The Yanks reading this will be pleased and amused to know that the one shop I've found that I really like is owned by an American (America, Fuck Yeah!). They actually carry Malabrigo and Misti Alpaca. They have Koigu and yarns by Tilli Thomas that are unreal - silk with Swarovski crystal beads or semi-precious stones. Here's hoping they make it to Stitches West! I must warn you though; it's spendy yarn - £75/skein for some of the yarns. Yowza. The women who worked there were quite nice, stayed open late for myself and one other customer, let me walk in off the street and wind my own yarn, troll through their books and even gave me guidance for a pattern when I came in and said that I was looking for a pattern for a specific yarn instead of the other way around. It was well worth the trip.

The shop is in Putney, South London and I have to say that I enjoyed South London a great deal more than I did Central London. My earlier excursion sent me to the Oxford Circus station and it was ridiculous. Not the good ridiculous as Karen Tanner usually means it, but ridiculous in the usual OED sense. It was like a caricature of what people who have never been to the Big City expect it to be.

While I was in Putney, I decided to take a later train and have dinner by myself at Pizza Express, which I'd spied on the way down to Stash. I thumbed through a copy of Selvedge and enjoyed the Padana pizza, which was excellent. It's something I am looking forward to on my next visit to Stash.

Back on the tube, I got to London Euston just in time to miss the train to Preston (and to learn that I had an hour to wait), but in time to find that there is a Krispy Kreme stand at the station - crazy. I had a latte and the last Belgian Chocolate brownie at Starbucks, sat in the cool night air listening to people I couldn't quite see laugh and talk and waited for my train. As I said, well worth the trip.

05 November 2006

My Apologies

I told friends and family that I would blog my adventures in England. What with a new house and being in a new place and being an expat and all, I expected that there would be tons to blog about. Tons. I expected that there would be great trips to the English countryside, wonderful picnic lunches on the banks of the Lancaster Canal and Monkee-esque, super fast-motion trips to the London Eye, the Tower of London and the Notting Hill Portabella Road market with much mugging and smiling and general silliness. This is what I thought living in England would be like.

How naive.

If I'd known that it was going to be fish and chips on a Saturday night, endless trips to the local B&Q Hardware and American sitcoms in rerun. If I'd only known that there was only one movie theater for a 15-mile radius with stale-ass popcorn that comes in sweet or salty or a diabolical mix of the two... Did I mention it's stale?

If I'd had any idea of how boring my life as a housefrau would be, I would never have promised to blog about it all. Or at least I would have made up better stories.

Ah, but a promise is a promise, so, in all of its lackluster glory, here goes...

11 April 2006

European Vacation

This is my last day in the U.S.

I will be leaving for the airport tomorrow to catch flight to Toyko and then my connecting flight to Singapore where I will pick up the ship that my husband is on and then I will only return to the States as a visitor.


This last week - well, since last Thursday, has been... trying to say the least. Let me just say that it has strengthened my resolve to surround myself with tolerant, gracious, patient human beings. It is not something that I have experienced these past 6 days.

I am looking forward to my trip. Looking forward to finally being away on my adventure, looking forward to arriving at the new house. I am looking forward to it all, but mostly I am looking forward to being the fuck away from here.

28 February 2006

And So It Begins

I packed the very first box today. I packed my husband's clothes from our dresser and a few of his things from the closet.

It all has become so much more real all of a sudden. I'm leaving. Not just moving, but moving moving. I am leaving the only place I have ever lived.

Sure, I've lived in different cities in the U.S., but I have never lived in another country, never been more than a 6-hour drive away from all of the people that mean the most to me.

I'm moving.

Is it bad that I am still excited?

24 February 2006

Make A Wish

I woke up to the phone ringing this morning, my Mom calling to wish me a Happy Birthday. Always a good way to start off the day.

The day has only gotten better and better.

I spent most of the day with Emy, buying Stampin' Up stamps and accessories so that I can start making some handmade cards. It's something I think about all the time. Something that, if I had the time, I'd really make a go of as a side business. I spent way too much money and had bad (read bad for me, but very yummy) food for lunch and had a blast. I also talked Emy into making me a pair of socks, so I spent part of the evening looking up sock patterns on The Knitting Zone, where I found multiple scarf patterns that I want to buy so that I can use some of the unbelievably beautiful yarn that my Secret Pal gave me for my birthday. That woman is an angel!

Beautiful skeins of yarn (Claudia's Handpainted, Delicious Yarn among them), discs 2 & 3 of Invader Zim (I'm obsessed!), gorgeous roses, generous gift cards from iTunes, phone calls from my sister, my mom, my best friend, a great friend that I met through work (we're like twins separated at birth), and a husband who is somewhere at sea(but still managed to call), a touching card from one of my oldest friends, good food, great company and smokey scotch.

It's been a very good day.

22 February 2006

Birthday Presents

It's my birthday on Thursday. It's not a big birthday, you know, not one that ends in an 0 or anything, but my birthday nonetheless. I'm excited because my present from my Secret Pal showed up today. I want to open it so badly. I am trying to be good and to wait the two days, but I just don't know if I'll be able to restrain myself.

I need to go to sleep so I can get up, struggle through the day, go to sleep, get up and open my presents!

21 February 2006

Manchester England, England

I was going to blog about Stitches West tonight, about all of the goodies I got while I was there. I was going to find pictures of some of the things that I purchased and post them along with my thoughts on Stitches. I was going to do all of that.

Then I remembered that today was Monday. Monday, the 20th of February, in the year two-thousand, double-aught, six.

I know what you're thinking: so what? What the frick is so special about the 20th? What on earth could be so special about a Monday?!

Today is the day that we exchanged contracts for the house that we purchased in ENGLAND!!

My sister-in-law was there to sign the papers and pick up the keys in our stead, but now I wish that I had taken the week off, hopped a flight to England and signed the papers and picked up the keys myself. Still, I can't stop grinning and I can't stop thinking about the fact that I am now a homeowner. A homeowner... Yow!

I'm congested, I'm coughing and sneezing and I can barely stay awake. I am behind on my knitting and I am gravely in danger of not medaling in the Knitting Olympics and I coouldn't care less.

It has been a very good day.

16 February 2006

Resigned to My Fate

I quit my job on Monday.

Actually, I quit on Friday last, but I turned in my letter of resignation on Monday.

It felt wonderful.

I only have a couple of weeks left at the place where I've been employed for the last 6 years, 3 months and 14 days. In a mere 15 days, I will no longer be a cog in the wheel of the machine that is the Scarlet Letter. Perhaps it hasn't settled in yet. Perhaps I really am just overjoyed to no longer have to go to work there after the end of this month. I thought that I would feel more sadness, more remorse. All I feel is weight of a Sisyhean task being lifted from my shoulders - getting up day after day to push myself to do something I am no longer interested in doing for people who no longer inspire me to do the job I know I can do.

I want to do something more. Not, like, rich-and-famous, putting-my-business-in-the-streets more. Like, learning-something-new-everyday, engaging-my-brain, putting-something-out-into-the-Universe-that-means-something more.

You know... more.

07 February 2006

Pay It Backwards

People suck.

Today, on my way back to the office I ran into a guy who said that he was homeless and looking for a place to get a free breakfast. I didn't know of such any place downtown. I know of one place, the place where I sometimes volunteer, but it isn't downtown, it's further out, and I told him that. He tried to flag down some poor schmo on a bike, who just waved him off and kept riding, while I stood there still. His response: "This is a hard town to get help in."

I walked away.

Then I remembered that I had a Starbucks card in my back pocket. I turned around, walked back to him and offered him the card. I didn't have any money on me and I told him so. The card had, maybe, $15 on it - enough for a sandwich and a pastry and a coffee, if he wanted it. There was no way to get me the card back, so it was his to keep, spend, eat, poop on, whatever.

He accepted it. I experienced a fleeting moment of pride and happiness and then the Karma gods decided to smite me down for my hubris. It was instantaneous. Before I had taken six steps, the guy called me back, asking if he could tell me how he had gotten from his city to mine. Stupidly, I said,"OK." He then proceeded to tell me how his girlfriend was in a fire, and how she was 6-months pregnant with his kid and then he did it... he squeezed his eyes shut and tried to force out a couple of tears. When he couldn't manage to get one out, he tried wiping his eyes to make it look like he was crying, except, that he wasn't. I was looking right at him. It was the pathetic crocodile tears of a little kid who wants something that you won't give them. It pissed me the f!#% off.

Fine, pal! You scammed me out of the card. I didn't give you any money because I didn't have any money to give. I was trying to be nice!!

I said that I was sorry about his misfortune, that I hoped that things went better for him in the future.

I walked away.

When he called me back this time, I just kept walking.


31 January 2006

Good Night, Gracie

I miss my kitten.

She was a total nutter and would go completely insane when freed from her daily confinement of our upstairs bedroom when I got home from work.

For at least two hours she would run and jump on everything that would or wouldn't move. The two older cats would be subjected to her Napoleonic, leopard-like pounces.

It killed me the way she would hop on their backs and then crisscross them while they were trying to get back down the stairs and under the dining table, where they (wrongly) thought that they would be safe. Gracie would just hop onto the dining chairs and then bat them from above their heads.

Personally, I was very amused.

What I will miss most, though, is the way that - once she got tired and wanted a snuggle and a nap - Gracie would walk along the back of the couch and climb down me like I was steep hill. Half of the way down, she would stop and lay on me. It was like wearing a warm, purring boa.

I'll miss the way she would gently touch my face with her paw.

I always imagined that she was telling me something sweet, telling me about her day and about all of the crazy stuff that she saw from her upstairs window-ledge perch. She was probably just saying, "Thanks for the food, Lady. Don't forget to give me some more tomorrow." Cats are like that.

Anyway, I'll miss her. She was a joy and a crackup to have around. She went to a good home, with good people who will love her and care for her. She'll have another cat to play with; she'll have the run of a Zen Garden and a dog to pick on; she'll get to sleep in the bed with mom, dad and her new sister.

I was only her surrogate mommy for one month, but I loved her nonetheless.

Bye-bye, Gracie. Keep your box clean.

29 January 2006

The Art of Complaining

As an update to my last post, the knitting store redeemed itself by responding to my complaint email by refunding the money I paid for the two classes (the horrible one that I took and the one I cancelled because of the horrible one that I took) and they're sending me a gift certificate.

Ah, the beauty of a well-crafted complaint.

Credit where credit is due, it was pretty good customer service.

24 January 2006

Crabby McGrumpypants

I was crabby on Saturday. Crabby, crabby, crabby. I blame it on the awful knitting class I went to in Saratoga.

Two things can put me in a bad mood like no other two things on this planet - a bad breakfast or a bad class.

I don't just like breakfast, I LOVE breakfast. I am a breakfast person. I'll never know why people invite me to brunch because I am never gonna eat any damned lunch when I can eat breakfast. Call a spade a spade and invite me to breakfast, because that's what I am going to eat.

Now, if I've had a bad breakfast... woe to all who meet me that day. There is no saving grace for anyone who crosses my path on a day when I have had a bad breakfast. And if that bad breakfast was in a restaurant and I had to pay for it... Well, let's just say that on those days I go home and sit on the couch with my little hands clinched into little fists and stare at a wall and don't dare go outside for fear of the havoc I will wreak on an unsuspecting public. Husband gives me a wide berth, slowing down occasionally to throw raw meat and/or caffeinated beverages in my direction (always remembering to tuck and roll).

This is precisely the mood I end up in when I have to sit through a bad class. And if I had to pay for that bad class...

That was me on Saturday, little fists clenched, staring at a wall and then I decided to go to the mail box to pick up the post. And what should I find waiting for me but a lovely present from my loverly Secret Pal! Awww. The box was stuffed with teas, sock yarn (Rowan Cashsoft among them!) and one that looks like my SP took the time to mix a few yarns together to make me a sock yarn. Let's not forget the maple candies and the "Hello Kitty" Pez dispenser (nice!). The icing on the cake, though, was the copy of The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook, which was on my Amazon wish list and a book that I really, really wanted. It changed my whole perspective on the day. It put me in such a good mood that I was able to go out on Saturday evening to Game Night at a friend's house and have a great time. Until I got the package, I was dreading the thought of going because I was sure I would be a huge buzz-kill.

Thank you, Secret Pal!

The world thanks you, too.

21 January 2006

The Scarlet Letter

Friday. A full two weeks back at the Scarlet Letter after my 7-week hiatus. Oh, how I miss the carefree days of not coming into the office. The halcyon days of not having people throw their cars at me from the wrong direction up the aisles of the parking lot, of not having my fellow co-workers position their caffeinated, jerking fingers over the Close Door button in the elevator as soon as the damn thing stops on my floor.

For the love of god, let me off the elevator before you request that the doors fling shut so that the elevator can hurtle you on your way to... well, nowhere.

It's short-timers. I just know it. My ability to gladly suffer fools, never the kevlar-coated stuff of a Jane Austen herione, is now gossamer thin and littered with holes. I will not make it to my anticipated quit date. I will be in a federal penitentary long before that date arrives.

Right now, I am a worthless amalgamation of red blood cells at work. I can't concentrate, I can't get motivated, I can't do anything that would require me to do anything that would resemble work. I wish that someone would lay me off so that I can avoid making the double-bird jesture as I tell them that I quit.

Two days. Two days to adjust my attitude and suck it up for the next few months.

Wish me luck.

19 January 2006

This is NOT news, not even Entertainment News

It is a slow day in the Universe when this is what passes for a news story, even if it is on the Entertainment Tonight website.

The Knitting Olympics is news, however. It made Will Femia's Clicked column on the MSNBC web page.

In the spirit of the Knitting Olympics, along with Emy, I have decided to tackle my AbFab Throw kit by Colinette. I am going to make the Scallops throw. Though it's not the easiest one to make, it's supposed to be really easy. We'll see. I have started this kit many times now and keep stopping and starting over because my damn brain refuses to count to 122. Shut up, brain! I am going to start this throw and finish it for the Olympics. I was going to give it to my sister, but as it will now be my trophy for the Knitting Olympics, it may have to stay with me.

16 January 2006

Photos of Gracie

These are photos of the kitten that we rescued on Christmas day.

08 January 2006

Koigu Krazy

I decided to get off my candy ass and go outside today, refusing to spend it entirely indoors with only the cats to talk or kvetch to, so I went over to Commuknity and the very lovely Lolly was there with two skeins of the most beautiful, girly-pink Koigu for me. Lolly is an absolute doll. She was my teacher for Sock School and made it easy to see how a novice like me would be able to (eventually) make a pair of socks that didn't look like a cack-handed monkey had made them. Strangely, I always feel better when the things I make don't look like a cack-handed monkey was involved in any way. I'm just egotistical like that.

Bringing home my gorgeous new yarn inspired me to inventory and chronicle my stash, notions, bags, baskets and works in progress.

What's worse is that I made a spreadsheet in Excel that lists not only the colours and numbers of skeins of all of the yarns, but the yardage, weight, fiber content, weight class, gauge, lot, needle size and care instructions for each as well. I made separate tabs for needle conversion/needle inventory and weight standards for yarn as well.

What's worse than that is that I feel that I've left something out of the spreadsheet.

As my friend's boyfriend would say: nerd, nerdy, nerdly nerdliness.

The truth is that I will sleep much better tonight knowing that it's all organized (much the same way I sleep when I know that all of my shoes are facing the right way and touching in my closet at night). Besides, I couldn't just shove my scrumptious new yarn into a drawer full of mismatched skeins and balls of random yarn, now could I? I'd be thinking about it while I was at work on Monday, planning how I could come home and put it all in order...

Thank heavens I can use the United Behavioral Health part of my company benefits to talk to a therapist.

03 January 2006

To Blog Or Not To Blog

A blog? Start a blog? To say what? And to whom? What is there for me to say to the world?

Well, I guess that it's time that I found out.

I have to confess that I am starting this (mostly) because I joined Secret Pal 7 and it was one of the requirements - having a blog. It's meant to be a way for me to communicate my likes, dislikes, wants, needs, desires, rants, raves and prophecies.

Why on earth would anyone want to read about that?