Sunday, July 30, 2006


Here is my first hat made from, as Eric said, nothing but sheep:

It took three days to dry. It's a thick hat. I'm utterly pleased with it, even more so when Eric tried it on and said he might not mind having a hat such as that, except that the wool was a little itchy. So I may have to get some merino/silk or merino/cotton blend in gray or blue to make him a hat out of nothing but sheep. (A spindle and needles will be involved along the way.)

I've finally sent out an e-mail about the housewarming. This is not to say that everything's done--the seventh curtain of the twelve is still lying, hems pinned, on my sewing table, and the end tables that are destined for the basement are still in the living room--but we can be done in a short enough time. Plus we want to make more homemade ice cream.

I have yet to hear from Lisa on the results of her visit to the other shop. I called her to no avail yesterday, and I forgot to today. I'm vaguely figuring that she's calling her insurance company out of spite and is perhaps arguing with them about how she has to get the scratches fixed. If that happens and they refuse to pay for the damage (and therefore to get me to pay for it), am I still responsible for it? Dunno. I imagine my insurance company would probably have contacted me, though, so perhaps she won the lottery and is too happy to pay attention to little matters like her car and my peace of mind. I'm hoping I'll find out tomorrow.

We've made some progress around here other than the hat: Eric has confirmed he has a best man, we worked on the wedding favors, I put up the curtain rod in my sewing room, we ascertained that the basement has only one leak, though we don't know exactly where or what to do about it. I also called my mom for a long talk about the wedding, relationships, etc. Bev called me yesterday and (among other things) told me that Dad had been asking her questions about the wedding in a manner that made her think they wished I would share more of the wedding plans with them. I haven't been doing this principally becuase we haven't been developing the plans yet, but I called anyway and got Dad's advice on the basement and Mom's advice on dresses, food, after-wedding parties and so on. When they come out in September I foresee Mom and I spending a lot of time doing wedding-planning stuff and Eric and Dad doing a lot of house-repair stuff.

I also ended up asking her if it was okay with them that I was getting married, because I had never really asked them if it was okay and I knew they had had some reservations about how my relationship with Eric got started (well, the romantic portion of it) and the timing of the engagement. Mom said of course it was, and that she was happy I had someone to take care of me instead of living alone, and why was I so worried? I've been tense and anxious and irritable for a while, mostly due to all these changes that I'm still adjusting to, I think, plus extra stressors like the car incident and the check-ordering fiasco. (I think I've got that one sorted out now.) Plus the job is dissatisfactory. I've been trying to be quiet and bear things and get through my probation period, but Eric suggested that maybe that wasn't the way to do it and if I started asking questions and making suggestions about the things I find dissatisfactory, maybe they'll change or at least management will know that I'm thinking about such things. I'm going to try to be more active in changing the other things that are making me unsettled.

We went shopping Saturday and getting into my car Eric discovered that on the side of the driveway, right in front of the pile of wood slats and old weeds that the previous owners said he would get rid of but didn't, are a bunch of tomato plants with huge green tomatoes on them. The tomatoes I planted in the back are tall (apparently I'm supposed to pinch the tips so that they won't grow taller and will instead grow outwards) but only have flowers on them. I don't know where these tomato plants came from, but I was happy to see them growing and thriving, even in a bad place with no attention paid to them at all. I don't know that it's a metaphor--it's probably only a renewed hope that I'll have homemade salsa sometime this summer after all--but I'll take happiness however I can get it. I'm not nearly as miserable as I was before I moved up here, but there's still room for improvement. Which I will try to make happen.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Plodding on.

I called around about the repair for the neighbor's car. (It's not a Rover, it's a Grand Cherokee.) One place said you can't repair a plastic bumper, another one said you can. Neighbor will be calling the place that said you can, though she expresses skepticism. I also asked about paying for whatever charges the leasing company hit her for, and she said "Oh, no. That's not an option. They want new. I've leased every car there is, and they see everything." I'm dubious about this, but whatever. I'm anticipating having to fork over a check for two-thirds our mortgage this month. This is decidedly unappealing. But having this hanging over me is even more so. I'll be glad to be finished with it.

We cleaned up everything except the library for company on Sunday, Brenda and Edith and Michelle. We also served them strawberry ice cream. They were pleased, though we still don't have the texture quite right. We're going to have to do more experiments. Lots and lots of experiments. Think of all that poor ice cream we're going to have to go through. We're thinking of having four flavors of homemade ice cream for the wedding. We're uncertain as to whether we'll be making them or if someone else will when the time comes, but we do want to develop the recipes. And sometime I really want to try chai ice cream and Mexican chocolate ice cream, though those will be small batches consumed only by Edith and me, as Eric has declared them anathema.

Last night I tried to turn on my computer and it wouldn't fully load up Windows. So we reset it and started in Safe Mode and Last Known Good Configuration and flashed the BIOS and did a Windows Repair and nothing worked...and then we tried Last Known Good Configuration again and it booted. Apparently it was a virus. I had no antivirus software running because we didn't think to put any on after the last time we reformatted this computer. I have some now, the AVG Free Edition. If you haven't already, check your antivirus software.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Fiber geek.

I'm sitting here making a hat out of the chunky yarn I made from that brown roving I bought a while ago. Incidentally, the Hayden hat didn't work out for the other yarn I made; it needs more robust yarn. I may make wrist warmers or suchlike instead, or I may try a sample square of weaving with it. I do believe I am a fiber geek. Proof: I want to go to the Michigan Fiber Festival. It's the third weekend in August, which works nicely as Eric's friend is having a party the first weekend in August and we're tentatively planning on having our housewarming party the second weekend in August. (I'm hoping to finish the picking-up this weekend and do a serious floor cleaning, as our socks are still getting dirty, and then it's just picture-hanging and curtain-making. I've made three pairs so far, and they're in the washer to see if they'll get softer--they should, as they're linen and cotton. I can easily make three more pairs in three weeks.)

I will see lots of sheep and lots of yarn. I will buy a lace spindle (which reminds me, there's a fundraiser for sending spinning wheels and charkhas--wheel-like cotton-spinning machines--to Africa, which is pretty cool as they do it with spindles currently and do it to earn a living, and I now know that spindles are pretty slow when it comes to making enough yarn to make a fabric to sew your clothes out of). I will look at spinning wheels. I was kind of sort of contemplating maybe buying one then, if I could find one I liked for not too much, but the woman across the street called me today and said the estimate on her Jeep's damage was $620. I really did only scratch it a bit, so I'm thinking this is absurd and due to some auto shop's perfidy, so I'm going to wait for the copy of the estimate she promised me and see if I (or James) can de-BS it and get a more reasonable number. But if I can't, there goes much mad money. I've got a mortgage now, you know.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

It's curtains for me.

The living room is clear, except for the end tables that will eventually be taking up residence in the basement. We hooked up the electronics and watched Galaxy Quest a few days ago while we did this. Now we've got the library to put together (i.e. get all the textbooks out of their boxes and onto shelves, probably get more shelves, rescue Eric's other books from storage, and--according to his wish--alphabetize books within genre) and the dining room to finish off (a couple of boxes of knickknacks). And locks and the leaky faucets in the basement to replace. But otherwise: we're basically done!

Except that the windows are uncovered. That's not true, exactly; two of them, now, are hung with curtains. There are six. See, I had bought this lovely linen/cotton material at $2.77 a yard (making it about $6 a window, rather than the $40 it would have cost by buying from, say, Target) and promised to make curtains. After all, how hard could they be? And indeed they're not hard; all I have to do is cut the appropriate length and trim an inch off the selvedge (because it's slightly discolored at the edges, which is why it was $2.77 a yard) and cut that piece in half and seam up three sides (with nice mitred corners) and sew a big loop on the end. And indeed it's not hard, but I just didn't want to do it. But the windows get very big and black at night and it's not very pleasant to sit and watch a movie, or sit and read, in the living room with those windows staring. So last night I finally got motivated and finished the second pair and cut lengths for the other four pairs. I will do my best to complete at least one curtain a night until they're finished. Then I get to work on the front door, the back door, the stairway window, and the bathroom window, but only once I find the right fabric at the right price. I'm figuring that at this rate, my sewing machine is paying for itself even if I didn't use it for enjoyment with quilting.

We've also been looking for a premarital counselor. This is something we'd discussed before--because our history is, well, odd, and we've both got some concerns because of it, we wanted to talk to someone. But Eric priced it a few days ago and it's going to be about $120 an hour, several sessions at least, and insurance won't cover it. As Eric said, that's a lot of dishes to throw at each other we could simply buy instead. I suggested a workshop or a class, which I've heard of as cheaper (though less individualized), and focusing more on skills for problem-solving, communication, etc. Eric liked that idea, and so I've been looking around--but can't find anything that isn't religious. I think this is interesting, particularly considering that several states are currently proposing making covenant marriages, which would require premarital counseling, a legal option. I wrote to the Ohio Department of Mental Health and asked if they had any suggestions on nonreligious premarital education. The very nice guy who responded suggested that I try the county mental health board. He added something about, "If there is any question of who you should speak to, ask for the Client's Rights Officer. They tend to be good at problem-solving." I get the feeling that this is not a question they're prepared to answer. I did more poking around and found that Ohio State University apparently offers classes, and also a newsletter. It's mostly one-page briefs on listening, communication, being willing to face conflict, knowing your partner, and so on. Reading through it I'm feeling that the education bit isn't going to be so much a problem as the concerns-about-our-history bit. Eric has said that perhaps we don't need a counselor if we keep talking about it between ourselves. I think this makes sense, but now I'm feeling disappointed that there aren't the resources to talk to someone about this--something that might, you know, prevent a divorce, if that were an option with us--without paying someone several hundred dollars.

Also I have just discovered that my bank and my check company are having a tiff and I'm caught in the middle, so I need to call people to yell at them. One thing about this job, it's certainly making me braver about calling people.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Kicking things off right.

Eric is up in Ann Arbor today, playing D&D with a group of friends he's been playing D&D with for years. So I came home and made harira, except with Great Northern beans instead of chickpeas because we don't have any, and called my mom. Mom was packing for her first move in twenty-one years and all she wanted to talk about was the wedding. She conceded it was very reasonable of us to drop the wedding planning until the house was in order, then wanted to know: what sort of food were we serving? Who were my bridesmaids? What colors had we picked? Had I selected bridesmaid dresses yet? (Michelle wanted to know this too. Apparently it's one of the first decisions a bride has to make. Or maybe it's just the decision the wedding party wants to know about.) I asked her about flowers and she said, "Does Eric wear a suit to work?"

I said no, he wears slacks and a tie, and she said, "Oh. Because in Korean tradition the bride's parents give the groom a suit. Would he ever need to wear a suit?"

I said of course, he could definitely use a suit, and she asked me about sizes because Nordstrom is having their Anniversary Sale (the good one; the other is the Half-Yearly Sale, and it's not as good) soon and she wants to be able to get something good if she sees it. Then she said, "Have you made his mother a quilt?"

I said yes, actually, for Christmas, and she said, "What kind? Because we give the groom's parents a blanket. So I was thinking you could make a quilt." I said that the quilt was a small Christmas lap quilt, and I could certainly make her another, bigger, better one; and she said she could also just buy a mink (note: fake, I think it's actually nylon, but soft and snuggly and available only in Oriental stores for some reason) blanket for her, but maybe it would be nice if I made it, and I said that would be fine, I have almost a year, and she said that was true, and we'd think about it.

She also said that traditionally, the grooms' parents give the bride lots of clothes, but obviously she didn't expect them to do that. "But I'm doing my part," she said. I'm going to have to ask her more about Korean weddings. It hadn't occurred to me to ask her about them, because from what my cousin Unhae said, and from the videos we watched of her wedding and her sister's, I figured they were Westernized; but maybe that's not so, or maybe Mom's thinking about weddings in her own time. Either way, I would very much like to be able to include some traditional Korean aspects in the wedding.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Meat + Veggie = Dinner

I love grocery shopping. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I'm still (yes, after--dear God--seven years now) in the discovery stage of cooking: I can buy these, and turn it into this! I wonder what other combinations would taste good! Maybe it's because I never got over that I'm-a-big-girl-and-I-can-pay-for-it-all-by-myself thing. (Probably not, since I don't like clothes shopping anymore.) Maybe it's because I just like food. I went today, and filled my basket to the brim with bread and vegetables and blueberries for $1.77 a pint and ground beef and raspberry lemonade ($1 each, down from $1.59, and I bought the last four).

Yes, ground beef. I now shop for a meat eater. It's strange. I have a very basic understanding of how to pick beef out--bright red, sirloin is leaner than round is leaner than chuck, big chunks of fat are undesirable--but I haven't gotten feedback on it in...well, I'm not sure I ever got feedback, since Mom never sent me to the meat section to get anything, she got it herself and told me what she was looking for. But if I had it would have been eleven years ago. I've bought sausages and frozen chicken chunks for Eric before, but those are standardized and require no thought. Beef, though, is important to the boy. He still considers meat the main part of his meal, though what we've been doing is having a main vegetarian dish with a side or two that I'll have and another--a little chunk or slice of meat--for him. I'm hoping to someday change this view of things, but I suspect it's going to take a long time.

I may be able to help it along slightly. My schedule, wherein I work from 12:30 to 9 PM most nights, doesn't make it easy for me to do much cooking, and this is starting to drive me crazy. There's only so much canned soup and pasta with canned sauce I can eat. So I'm going to start cooking (or preparing) in the mornings and make food for myself like I'm used to. There are some things that he likes too--cheesy potato casserole, fried rice--but not enough to satisfy me So I've informed him that the kitchen will be producing peanut broccoli pasta and Pad Thai and artichoke-lentil pasta and roasted vegetables and couscous salad, and he says he's okay with it. He's even going to try a bite of all but the most esoteric stuff (or things he already doesn't like, such as peanut sauce). I hope to expand our list of mutually liked foods. Or I'm just going to have to become rich enough to hire a cook.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A mess, but coming along.

The house is mostly done. We've got some more boxes to unpack, and some furniture of Eric's to get rid of, and a place to find for storing blankets, but the kitchen and dining room and bathroom and bedroom and computer room and sewing room and library are functional. And that's all anyone really needs. The TV isn't hooked up, and at this rate may not be for weeks, especially if I never finish sewing the curtains. But priorities, people.

Also the pipes leading to the washer leak. But we're on it.

The Fourth of July was memorable for the bad and overly loud band (the Nutones) and the family that was lighting sparklers and trying to burn the grass with them. Oh, and nice fireworks and kettle corn. The Toledo celebration isn't bad at all.

We've made ridiculously rich chocolate ice cream, the sort of thing that couldn't be used in Death by Chocolate because adding more to it would actually make it distasteful.

And then there's the car. A description pulled from my e-mail to M:

Last Monday I backed out in a hurry because I thought I was going to be late for work and failed to see the black Jeep Rover that's always parked right across from our driveway, and crunched into it. I pulled over and dashed a very quick note on a
scrap of paper. Walking to the Jeep I noticed there wasn't much damage, a little paint scraping. Walking back to my car I noticed a huge dent in my rear bumper guard and a broken taillight cover. (The light itself still works...I think.) I turned out to be exactly on time for work. That night I came home, talked to Eric about it, and
when we went out to go to his mom's there was a note sticking out of the mailbox where there hadn't been one before: "I live at 153 Cornell. You hit my Jeep Rover. Call me to discuss," with name and phone number. I was annoyed because why hadn't she called me, and why hadn't she knocked. It was too late to call then, but I called about four times on July 4 and got a busy signal each time, then called July 5 and left a message, then called July 6 at a different time and left a mesage. No reply, and I decided I'd given it a good-faith shot and stopped calling.

Today, I heard the phone ring while I was at work, and when I checked it for some reason I decided to check voicemail, even though there was no little icon. Four messages, two of them from Jeep Rover Owner. So I called and said I hadn't received her earlier message, which I'm not sure she believed, and said if she got an estimate I'd give her or them a check. She seemed a little taken aback, but I'm not sure why; it's not like I'd give her a blank check or she'd have me take her car in. Anyway, it was extremely minor damage, probably just requiring sanding and repainting, so I'm not expecting it to be too much...but we'll see. And then there's my car, which at least needs its taillight cover repaired. Plus new tires and a flush and fill and maybe new spark plugs, but that was from before. Grrr. However, the lesson is that a Jeep Rover really is build tough. (Though I think that's the Ford slogan.)

So there you have it. Things are a mess but coming along.