Monday, August 28, 2006

Did I want a basement? No. I did not.

So over the weekend Eric removed what he could from the cold faucet that leads to the washing machine. We went to Home Depot and consulted a white-haired old man, who gave us a part. (Red. They were all red. Our hot faucet, incidentally, is blue.) We went home and discovered that the part Eric had removed was only part of what the replacement would be. We further discovered that the rest of the part won't come off because it's been welded there.

Today it rained. Buckets. Buckets and pails and horse-drawn carts. And in the basement I can see the reflection of the ceiling. There's half an inch of water down there. We knew there was a leak, but we didn't know it was this bad. It will take days to dry. I suppose it doesn't matter so much since we can't use the laundry anyway (though I think I recall that the dryer still has darks in it), but why is our basement so problematic? No offense to Eric, but I'm really glad my dad is coming in two weeks to fix things.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Sans nose, sans spite

We're running into problems with Eric going back to school for his teaching certificate--specifically (well, somewhat specifically; there are some piddly details), he may have to quit his current teaching position in order to do all the requirements for student teaching. He and his mom were talking about it (while Edith and I discussed having a yoga night at my place on Mondays with her yoga instructor) and his mom essentially said that if it were her, either she'd insist on having the current teaching experience fulfill her requirements or she wouldn't get the degree. Eric has a somewhat more moderate response, and I have an even milder one. I'm not excited about hoops, but I don't get all excited about avoiding them or pointing them out either. If it were me, I'd be annoyed that I couldn't substitute but I'd accept that the school's guidelines are what I have to live by. Is it reasonable, to change my life to accommodate other people's rules? Or is it better to push at other people to change to suit my rules?

I suppose it depends on who has the power. In this case, the school has certification power. So we may end up having to rely on my job and perhaps a part-time job of Eric's next year to pay our mortgage. (In which case I really hope I did well on those assessments.) The next few days should tell.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


"The brunch would be a good activity for Aunt K, Mom, me, etc., if you still need an assignment," Dad wrote to me today. We still have ten months, do we not? No, nine. Jesus, nine. Still, I'm finding myself surprised that Dad seems to have an even greater need to have everything for this wedding planned in advance than I do. Maybe it's because he's so far away and wants to know what I'm thinking, or to feel more involved. I'm figuring we'll spend a fair amount of time when they come out in September talking about it, even though we already plan to (1) have the parents meet each other (2) do wedding dress stuff with Mom and me (3) do house repair/maintenance stuff with Dad and Eric. Or at least Dad asked for a Daddy-Do list, and Eric will probably not be able to hide behind homework the entire time. (Not that he would actually do that.)

Eric's first day of school was today--both as a teacher and as a student. Well, the teacher bit was an in-service type of thing. The student bit went well, he said, though he's still nervous about this whole going-back-to-school proposition. I can see that. I would be if it were me. I've had a couple of vague thoughts about it being me, but nothing strong enough to act on since I passed up the science writing idea. I do want to work on freelance writing...though I'm finding myself curiously averse to actually sitting down and figuring out markets and writing queries and such. Is it inertia? Lack of practice? Fear of failure?

Speaking of fear of failure, I took the assessment tests for the job I applied for. First was the work styles questionnaire, which had perhaps 20 unique questions but 230 items to respond to. I'd love to see what my profile ended up being. Then yesterday I took a verbal reasoning and a numerical reasoning test. I finished the verbal one quickly but ran out of time with two questions to go on the numerical one, which annoyed me. I hope I got enough of the questions I did answer (98 out of 100, so not bad really) right. The other four people taking the test all seemed to be already employees--while we waited for the computers to be loaded up they were discussing fantasy football/baseball/whatever picks and the quarterly meeting. Or maybe there's a rival company I don't know about and the company is trying to steal away all its rival's key employees in one fell swoop. Though in that case I don't know why I was there.

I've been slowly doing better, now that the house is pretty much settled and I'm at least employed if not happy in it. I'm eating better and exercising more and, again slowly, getting more actual stuff done. The sucky part about being depressed about being unemployed was that being depressed prevented me from doing anything good with all that time I had.

There was also something Eric said a few days ago. We were playing World of Warcraft with some members of his guild--our guild, technically, but they only let me in because I'm his SO and a majority agreed SOs should be let in; but the majority wasn't a very big one and I've heard enough about them that I haven't shaken my perception of them as elitist and therefore not welcoming me. Even though some of them explicitly have. Anyway, there was something I wanted while we were playing (taming a Worg in Blackrock Spire, if you must know) and it wasn't communicated clearly to the rest of the group because Eric was doing it (he had originated the idea) and I was keeping quiet, and we ended up killing the Worgs instead of taming them and Eric said, "You never speak up for yourself!" My immediate reaction was, "I don't feel I can ask these people for anything!" but he's right. For various reasons, I don't speak up for myself. Because it's easier, because I'm shy, because I don't want to hurt other people's feelings or take anything away from them, because long ago I imbibed the cultural view that an assertive woman is a bitch. I've alienated enough people already by being myself. No reason to add any more demands to other people's plates.

--He said something once about letting myself be who I am, and I said, "Doing what other people want is part of who I am." That's not always bad, but I do it more than I ought; much of my frustration with our relationship (which, mind you, is not a lot) is because of that.

Anyway, he's right. I have self-esteem issues. Personality defects, if you will. It will take time to fix them, if I ever can. But I promised I'd try. So I suppose I should write back to Dad and tell him that organizing the brunch would be an awesome task for him and Mom and Aunt K to take over, and also the family party the night before (the night of the wedding), but let's cool it with the wedding talk until September, because there's only so much of it I can take and I'm the bride.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

You were with me all the while.

I have finally, finally, finally finished the DNA scarf. This was the project I started last summer, when Edith came back from Germany with a bag that said "Peek & Cloppenberg" on it. "I have a present for you, Eric," she said, handing him the bag. "But Jenny has to put it together first." In it was black German microspun. Eric, of course, wanted a DNA scarf. He also wanted it to be accurate, or at least more accurate, so I had to redo the chart. And then I worked on it very, very slowly. But now? Now it is done.

The stuff beside it is what I bought at the Michigan Fiber Festival, from which I was driving (well, riding) back when I finished the scarf. I also bought a couple of very pretty skeins of yarn for Edith's birthday. I was highly, highly tempted to buy some for myself as well (not to mention a spinning wheel and a small loom and a basketful of pewter buttons), but I kept to the budget and the items I wanted. The spindle at the bottom is a Bosworth Mini made out of bloodwood. I had intended to buy a laceweight spindle, and a paduak one because for some reason I just liked the way it looked online. This one is not quite laceweight, but the man selling them assured me it would spin paper-thin yarn if I wished. He made quite sure I had some spinning experience before he was willing to sell it to me. (Lighter spindles are harder to learn on.) As for the bloodwood, I fell in love with the shimmer and the depth and anyway, the paduak one I'd seen at another booth was more expensive. Above it is some soy silk, which I bought just for playing with. I need to decrease my yarn stash, so no more buying yarn until I get rid of what I've got--but I haven't yet put a similar embargo on buying fiber (though I think I may have to after this) so that was what I restricted myself to.

Above that is the bag of merino/tencel I bought and then spun a small sample of on my new spindle on the way home. (It was a three-hour drive, so yes, I had time for both that and finishing the DNA scarf.) I bought it in order to see if it would work for that hat Eric wants. When I got home I also spun a small sample of some merino/silk I already had and knitted both samples into swatches, and I'm afraid the merino/silk wins. It's noticeably softer; the merino/tencel was almost coarse. My bag wasn't as mixed as well as it ought to have been, but merino itself ought to be softer than that--I think. In any case, Eric has approved the merino/silk, so my next step is dyeing. I need to anyway--I have, I think, eight different types of fiber and only two of them already have any color to them.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


After a few frantic days of cleaning and cooking and a few more days of technical difficulties involving batteries, chargers, and USB hookups, I have housewarming pictures. However, I've just realized that posting pictures of my friends and (to-be) relatives without their permission is not such a hot idea, so here are a few representative, non-hominid-containing samples.

The housewarming went well, I think. Only one person we expected didn't show up. We played no games, but that was because people were eating ice cream and talking. It was a nice day, and I think most people trickled through the kitchen to the back, where Eric grilled and the formerly=laden pear tree quietly grew.

We hadn't quite gotten everything done--putting up shelves and hooks, for example--but it was presentable enough, I think. We made peach iced tea and homemade salsa and macaroni salad (Eric insisted on buying a gallon-plus container because he loved it so much he wanted lots extra) and pasta salad and a veggie tray, and served beef franks and hamburgers (mixed with onions, bread crumbs, salt and pepper...quite like meatloaf, actually) and, of course, the ice cream. We served strawberry, peach, chocolate, and orange, and people seemed to agree that everything was excellent except the peach, which needed more peach flavor. Our ice cream quest is not yet finished. Not that it would be anyway...I still haven't made Mexican chocolate or perfected chai.

I gave a couple of tours to people who hadn't seen the place, and felt a little awkward as hostess since I knew these people only through Eric. It was also odd to think that some of them will be my relatives this time next year. Fortunately I've got a year to get to know them better. Plus now they know I make really good salsa and ice cream.

After the last ice cream had been eaten and the last DVD knocked carefully behind the entertainment center by one-year-old Zander, we found that the kitchen wasn't quite as loaded with dirty dishes as we (or at least I) had feared and were happy to retreat to our usual posts: the computer room and (in my case) the sewing room. We have plans for the library, too. For one thing, we plan for it eventually to be the nursery. Bev told me the other day, "I passed the baby test! My coworker had brought her baby to work and I held him, and I was able to give him back without wanting another one!" Eric and I completely fail the baby test. We failed it in the grocery store; we failed it in the mall, even in the midst of despairing for humanity;* and we failed it absolutely with Zander being adorable in our house.

*(Don't I look like Mimi Smartypants?) Among other things, we passed a Piercing Pagoda and noticed a mother impassively watching as her little girl, maybe two or three, screamed and wept while the kiosk girl attempted to pierce her--the little girl's--ears. We agreed that a child of ours may pierce her (or his) ears; but the child will need to be the one initiating the idea, capable of taking care of said ears in order to prevent infection, and preferably in possession of an age in the double digits.

Now we're going to be putting up the last few things to make the house ours: coat hooks in the front entry, closet-type shelves in the sewing room closet to store coats and dresses and suits, hooks in the bedroom closet to hang scarves and hats from. We are also dealing with possible changes: Eric has registered for his first classes in pursuit of his education degree, and I've got an assessment test to take next Tuesday for that potential new job. It's hard to hammer and drill when we're keeping our fingers crossed that everything will go as smoothly as we hope it will.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Things making me tired.

We're in training for Eric to start getting up early in the mornings. Unfortunately this means I have to get up early in the mornings too. I'm so sleepy.

We just got back from Lowe's (using our new-homeowner 10% off coupon) to get new deadbolts, because ours are sticking unbearably and we can no longer actually lock or unlock the front door from the outside.

Eric mowed down my raspberry bush. And my dill. And my peas. And my cantaloupe plants. In his defense, the bush was low and small, and so were the cantaloupes. He claims he didn't know what they were and furthermore I had told him the raspberry bush had died. Next year I will be putting up fences so that he can't get to the plants--or better yet, carrying out the plan of killing everything in that plot and then starting over and adding a gravel walkway so that he can't get a lawnmower in there at all without malicious intent.

In the meantime, my tomato plants (which even he can't say look like grass) are flowering but not fruiting. I picked one red tomato from the ones growing from the junk pile by our driveway. We finally opened up the garage doors to park in there so that we can get past each other in the driveway, but I don't want to run over the tomatoes still growing there.

The interview Friday went okay. I made a couple of obvious mistakes, and I'm not sure how the lady who interviewed me took a couple of my answers. She did at least ask me questions, so that's something. It would be a great job, I think, though the benefits aren't so hot and it's now important to me to be able to keep the long weekend that my parents are coming in free and also a day before the wedding and a week sometime that summer. We did not get a schedule of who stays home when this week at work. I don't know if this means that we won't, or that the supervisor is finding himself overwhelmed and can't quite bear to invite another round of recrimination yet. He still hasn't answered my repeatedly e-mailed question of why there was a trainee in the office the same day he announced we didn't have enough work to go around.

There won't be very many people coming to the housewarming. This is okay, as the ice cream we made for it this weekend (strawberry, peach, chocolate, and orange) is so good we're going to be eating some of it this week and it's nice not to have to make too much more. I have two more curtains and a lot of uncleaned floors to go.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

We want your marriage to succeed, as long as you don't mind a threesome with Jesus.

I'm trying to find a nonreligious premarital counseling or education class. Eric and I are firm agnostics, and we don't like the idea of being told how to handle our marriage by a Christian or other religion-based person--plus we don't know any, and it would be weird to walk into a random church and say, "Hi, we don't go to this church, or any church at all, and we don't know you, but would you talk to us about our marriage?" We called private counselors and found they're really, really expensive (especially since I have to pay to get a bumper replaced and I'm staying home from work involuntarily today). I e-mailed the Ohio Department of Mental Health about this some time ago, asking for suggestions. They suggested asking my county mental health board. I called them today and they had no idea; there are no publicly funded agencies that do that sort of thing. "It's not a mental health issue," explained the first person I talked to. The second person I talked to could only suggest a nondenominational minister, private counseling (which I already said I'd investigated and couldn't afford), or calling 211, a United Way info call center. I tried calling and, at least on my cell phone, it didn't work.

I can't find my phone book (did I mention our house is haunted? The vents used to sing, but now they've stopped and instead inexplicable things have been disappearing: the power cord to my printer, the extra bits to my screwdriver, and now the phone book) so I went online and spent the last forty-five minutes or so trying to find something local and non-Christian. There are many people advertising themselves as premarital counselors or educators; their sites are pink and purple, or yellow and blue, and hard to navigate and read. There are licensed counselors, licensed and certified counselors, and educators who took a one-day course or use a teacher-in-a-box kit. Not reassuring. (I also did a brief search of "Jewish premarital counseling," just to assure myself that they have it. They do; they get it through their rabbis. So do Muslims. This site has a history of American marriage prep programs, which is interesting if not helpful.)

This article says it baldly: if you aren't religious, you're on your own or stuck with higher fees. I'm full of angry energy about this. If they're trying to get covenant marriages into law and prevent divorces and all that, and they are, and they're focusing on premarital counseling to help, why can't I get premarital counseling without getting it from someone who will inevitably believe I'm going to Hell for not believing in his/her God? At this point I want to go get a master's in counseling psychology and start my own nonreligious premarital counseling practice. Offering workshops for people who can't afford several sessions of private counseling. With a quiet, tasteful, easy-to-navigate website, thank you very much.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Car talk

Tomorrow is my day to stay home from work. If the HR person is amenable, I may be spending part of it at an interview: the job I applied for this morning she wrote to me about this afternoon (about four hours later) to say they'd like me to come in for an interview this week if possible. I may or may not actually get the job but it was a very nice ego boost to read it, and tomorrow would be a wonderfully convenient day to go in if she doesn't mind the short notice. I wish I'd checked my e-mail on my lunch hour (I'm not supposed to, but my motivation to obey their strictures is not high right now).

Also, Lisa, the Grand Cherokee owner, called today finally. She began, "I've decided that I'm not going to drive around town for you. I called [my insurance company] and [the dealer she got her quote from] and [my insurance company] says [the dealer she got her quote from] is an authorized dealer and [the dealer she got her quote from] says the bumper can't be fixed, it has to be replaced. So you need to file with your insurance company and get this taken care of." I said, "If it's okay with you, I'd prefer to skip insurance and just give you a check directly." She said, "Oh!...Okay! Well, anytime in the next few days is great." I suspect someone taught her that the best defense is a good offense.

I told Mom and Dad about the above news, and Mom said that I should file a claim with my insurance after all because my deductible only applies to fixing my car, not fixing other people's. Eric recommended not filing because the increase probably still wouldn't be worth it. After some hunting around on the Internet, I think I agree. Insurance is, apparently, only for catastrophes (or when it's the other person's fault). So I will drop off the check (made out to [the dealer she got her quote from]) tomorrow. And maybe someday I'll get my car repaired, but first I've got a lot of dinners out not to eat and several books and movies not to buy.

About to have some free time.

At work yesterday we got an e-mail with the supervisor: "I've been having several meetings with the owners of the company. They are not happy with our productivity. Therefore, they are requiring me to send home 15-20 people per day [out of around 100] when we don't have enough work for everyone." Also yesterday, a new trainee was touring and listening in while we worked. Today, I'm looking through the classifieds.