Sunday, October 29, 2006

I bet some marketing person has called it INGEOnious.

The ingeo kicked my butt.

It's pretty, it's shiny, it's soft, but I am putting it away until I am a more experienced spinner. It's got a very short staple length (the length of the individual fibers), which makes it difficult to work with (and also confuses me because, hey, it's manmade, couldn't they have made it longer?), and a strange squeaky stiffness to it, which caused me at various points to try to tug gently to make the yarn even and have nothing happen, then tug slightly harder and have it all come apart. It broke apart as I was quick-plying it, which is why I decided to try knitting a sample plied and one unplied. The plied one was reasonable; the unplied one--well, there are a lot of ends on it. Putting it away now. I wonder if the soy silk I picked up at the fiber festival has similar properties. However, I know that wool is much much easier to spin, and I still haven't finished all the green BFL (though did I mention I finally finished and plied the laceweight? It's not quite laceweight anymore, at least not in all places, but it's got a nice sunset color to it and it's very fluffy) so I think I'll recover my ego with a little work I know I can do.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Food for thought.

I spent a couple of hours in the kitchen today, making Greek green beans (since I had several shoebox-ripened, starting-to-wrinkle tomatoes to use up) and butternut squash soup. I made it with sauteed onions and garlic and leftover white beans and fresh rosemary off the plant in my window (and I put the remains of the sprig, since I didn't use it all and started from the bottom up, in a cup of water to see if it'll form roots) and it's divine. I'm so incredibly pleased with myself it's disgusting.

Eric, however, just thought the soup was disgusting. That's fine; I already knew he doesn't like squash and I had had no intention and made no overtures in the direction of suggesting he try it. Apparently he felt this was insufficient security, though, and made some comments on the unpalatability of squash in general and this soup in particular. So I got mad at him, because he insists on meat at almost every meal and do I ever say that that's disgusting and I don't want any and don't ask me to try it? I do not. I say nothing, except for the occasional comment on how he feels funny if he doesn't get meat, even if he's had plenty of protein. I did not point this out, but a little later he apologized, and made no comment on the soup when I had it at dinner (he liked the green beans), so we've got peace there, at least for now.

He's also reading a book about religion and atheism (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion), and it made me wonder about how people approach belief, of that sort and any other, and specifically food. Twice at work I've had people look at my lunch (ratatouille and vegetable pancakes, respectively) and say, "Are you a vegetarian?" and I think it's interesting that they believe only someone who doesn't eat meat would eat that sort of food. Eric's dad seems to take my vegetarianism personally. (It might be because his doctor told him to stay away from red meat because of a potential heart problem.) So does his mom, in a slightly less pushy way--but she still says things like "Jenny, I wish you ate meat, because this steak is so juicy and tender and delicious, it's the best thing in the world," and I wonder why people truly don't get that it would not be delicious to me. I don't try to convert people to vegetarianism, partly because it isn't a religion to me--which, honestly, the meat-centered food culture I live in feels like sometimes--but mostly because I know they have no interest and I can't create that in them. And also because I know they will feel annoyed and persecuted if I try--but nobody seems to think it a problem when they do it to me. I wonder how many people truly try, or are able, to see how another person might approach things.

Obviously this is a pretty petty thing to get all heavy and hung up about, and I'm not really. I just have a good meal in my tummy that I don't want scorned. When I get pregnant and people start pushing me to eat meat for the baby I'll probably do more ranting about it, but that, happily, is at least eight months away (because even if I got pregnant on the honeymoon I wouldn't know for another few weeks) so I think I'll just let my wonderful soup settle and think about catching up on the craft backlog. (There are also curtains I bought that need to be shortened and shelves that need putting up. But more importantly that ingeo I bought several months ago is calling my name. I hear it's difficult to spin; we'll see.)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bargain shopping and the science of bread

I went to Meijer today to get jelly jars and cotton balls and things for the pumpkin-decorating contest at work. My department is collecting props and such in order to decorate tomorrow and finalize Friday, when the judging is. It's my idea, so I'm invested in its success. Hint: tiny lace curtains are at this moment tumbling in my dryer, and I am sorry I didn't play with dolls or horses much as a child.

Anyway, I stopped at the curtain section because I still haven't gotten curtains for the front door or the bathroom or the kitchen (though that's only my desire, not Eric's; he likes the open windows in there for some reason). I found a pair of plain ones, one for the door and one for the bathroom, so that was fine, and I will wash them before altering them. Then I moved to the clearance section and found one of those velvet/velveteen curtains, a deep luxurious red, originally $18.99, now $2.80. I have no desire for red velveteen curtains, but I can think of many other things for which I can use more than a yard of red velveteen, and you generally can't buy it at less than $3 a yard. So Meijer made a sale. I shall have to remember this for my future fabric needs. I would have gotten more if there had been more, but while there were more velvet panels none of them were marked clearance, which I found dubious, but I wasn't willing to chance it since I still had to get to the fabric store.

I discovered today that I only have seven months until the wedding, not eight as I've been saying for the past, well, four weeks. The caterer from Premier Catering (the one I've been negotiating with) wrote, saying "What's the next step? What are you thinking? I know you mentioned replacing the eggplant with tenderloin with noodles, that would be fine." Well, actually, I said no noodles, and I also said the next step was for us to taste a sample before we settled on a menu and a contract and such. She's still writing in all caps. But I'll write back. Today we had a retirement party for the stepping-down president of the company, and the caterer was Premier. I asked and apparently my new company had gone through a lot of caterers but now they always use Premier. We didn't have any hot dishes so I didn't get a taste test, but I'm now more pleased with our likely choice.

At this moment there is also apple-banana butter cooking, because I had a really ripe banana and, apparently, not enough else to do. The apple butter from the weekend turned out well, the only problem being slight runniness, and the canning was lots of fun. My first batch of apple bread turned out excellent, the second...educational. See, my problem with apple bread is that it tends to sink in the middle. I decided to try replacing most of the oil with apple butter, since I happened to have some around, and found that the bread rose much better, had a wetter (rather than a moister) texture and finer crumb, but I didn't like the taste as much. Plus it almost burned because of the extra sugar. I'm wondering if the oil made it too heavy, or if the apple butter provided water that became steam that made it lighter. Or both. I'm going to have to experiment. Hooray for food science. In the meantime, I shall be tending my fruit butter and finishing a lacy hat, so that I don't feel quite so ashamed wearing my fleece hat when it's not even freezing out.

Friday, October 20, 2006

American Beauty Skunkweeds

So Eric and I have already talked about name changing and such, and we're not doing it. Also, the children will probably have my last name. We mentioned as much to Brenda and Edith. They were okay with my not changing my name, but we announced the kids thing and they both said, "Say what?"

My aunt, upon hearing I was engaged, said, "Congratulations! What will your new name be?" I said, "I'm actually keeping my name, but his last is X." She made no comment and none of my family has beefed about it, even though my two female cousins (the only ones in our generation to marry so far) both changed their names, but I haven't mentioned the kids thing yet.

I read Indiebride sometimes, and enjoy the forums. The "She said WHAT?" thread under Horror Stories is especially fun. But there's another area about changing names (or rather, mostly not) and how people react, and some posters described ways they deal with people who ask about name changing: "Yeah, I took his name. From now on, call me Steve." "But if I take his name, what will everyone call him?" I love these, but I feel like I need a more substantial answer--and I also feel that I shouldn't need an answer at all. Why should I have to defend myself?

And then, just now, I was reading Bitch Ph.D. and we were talking about feminist marriages and what people will say if we carry out our contingency plan of him staying home with the kids while I work, and talked about kids' names again. And then we discussed how people can spell his last name, but not pronounce it, and people can pronounce my last name, but not spell it, and I came up with the perfect solution: He will be Eric X, I will be Jenny Y, and our kids will have the last name Y, but pronounced X. (As in Monty Python's, "It's spelled Luxury-Yacht, but it's pronounced Throat-Warbler Mangrove.") It's ideal! They'll be able to spell it and say it. Perfect for when they end up in the news for murdering their parents.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


It is That Week. The week that I go off the hormone-laced pills (I don't take the placebos; I put them in a jar, like Mimi Smartypants) and suddenly my emotional landscape is magnified. Tiny imperfections become gaping wounds, stretches of time last forever and a half. I'm exaggerating a little, but then, wouldn't I? Anyway, I generally feel better once I start to bleed, so tomorrow I should be able to proceed with my plan of the week.

Though I never do seem to get through my plan of the week. Why is that? Am I truly going to spend the rest of my life behind? I hate the prospect of that. But I can't just let things go, either (hence why Eric and I are having difficulties, or at least we have been in the past couple of days since, as I mentioned, I went off the hormone pills). I suppose I don't truly want to. Hence why I have a hat and a teddy bear and a sweater half-knitted, and some lace yarn in a color that does nothing for me half-plied, and five recipes I want to get to this week, and so on.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Growing things

No apple butter today. But a pot. A $5 20-quart stock pot from Anderson's (the local has-it-all store), plus a jar lifter. I agonized for some time over which pot to get, because in addition to the stock pot (they had a sale, any size from 12 to 20 quarts for $5--it's cheap, but then I only need it to hold some hot water) there were also official canning pots with racks and that black-with-white-specks look. Michelle, who came with me because her mom was at the opera, recommended the canning pot because it was pretty. But there was only the tiny one and the one for quart-size jars, and I got pint-size jars and would only go down from there, so eventually I determined that the rack doesn't matter and the look doesn't matter, because I'm only going to use it a couple of times a year, plus maybe for picking pears next year (or boiling a chicken, should Eric ever get a yearning for homemade chicken soup) and went with the cheap.

I also bought a rosemary plant and a basil plant and a pot for the one and a hanging basket to place my Wandering Jew in so that I can use that pot for the other. And potting soil and asparagus and apple cider. $30. And we sampled the plums and grapes (and avoided the "hot cajun peanuts") and Michelle was entranced by the Halloween displays. It was a good trip.

Tomorrow I'll be potting and repotting, but not cooking since Monday is exercise night. Maybe Tuesday I'll finally achieve apple butter. I also need to break out my recipe for apple bread (with walnuts, very yummy and only needs tweaking in that it takes about 75 minutes to bake, which I think is too long) or maybe work on the new recipe for apple cinnamon swirl bread. Eric mentioned to me a few days ago that he remembers a delectable bread from his childhood, Aunt Millie's, that had apples in it and a cinnamon spiral. So I made Egg Bread from the Better Home and Gardens cookbook, with the cinnamon swirl variation, and threw in some chopped apples. I like it, and Michelle likes it, but Eric says it isn't quite right, so I'm going to add about three times more apples and add some cinnamon to the initial dough and perhaps use brown sugar in the cinnamon-sugar mix for the swirl. Mmm bread. Mmm fall.

Eric is accusing me of wanting a baby because I'm doing a lot of making and growing things. (Did I mention I planted garlic? It's growing a thick green spear! And I bought some ginger the other day and planted a nodule of it, on his suggestion please note. We'll see what happens with it.) Maybe he's right, but I'm enjoying the making and growing things just for their own selves.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

One week

My first week at work was, in a word, long. I attended lots of training--someone saw me using the electric holepunch and said, "Hey, have you been trained on that?" and for a single horrified second I thought he was serious--and mets lots of people and walked lots of halls. I didn't get lost, but only because I was vocal about the building being confusing and usually got someone to give me directions. I'm learning my way around, and I can identify where my desk is. That's progress.

I've mostly been doing general company training and then shadowing the people who work in the areas where the product starts--I'm going to be doing quotes and customer service, but my boss wants me to understand what it is I'll be quoting. I'm totally happy with this, but I'm a little uneasy about not being trained about my actual job for at least another, he says, five or six weeks. Oh well. My coworkers are pleasant, and there are more of them and I can relate to them better, and everyone says my boss is excellent to work for. My desk is right outside his door, so I hope so. Anyway, work has been tiring so far but positive. And it's certainly better than the last place.

So, apple butter. I bought the jars, but I bought pint jars and I can't can them in the pots I have, plus I don't have tongs--I thought we did, but we don't, though we bought salad tongs today--so I still have some purchasing to do before I actually get to the fun part. I'm considering just buying half-pint jars instead of a whole new stockpot--they're cute--but then I already bought and washed these pint jars, so I might as well use them, right? I think I was a little too naively enthusiastic here, but that's all right. It's nice to be enthusiastic about things.

I don't think I wrote this all down, but at the Toledo gem show we met Debra Hoffmaster and asked her to make our Mobius strip wedding rings. She said sure, that was simple, asked us a lot of questions, and sent us a quote that made us extremely happy (around $300 for both rings; our stretch-it-to-the-utmost limit was $300 each) and said that she'd made silver prototypes and could we come by and okay them? We said yes, absolutely, and I asked as an afterthought if white gold would be a different price. She said she doesn't work with white gold. We showed up at the festival (Harrison Rally Days, city celebration in Perrysburg) she asked us to drop by and tried on the prototypes. They were awesome. Mine fit perfectly, Eric's was slightly too big. She said again that she doesn't work with white gold, and she'd be willing to try but we'd be paying for her mistakes. Eric was fine with yellow gold, but I really wanted white. "Go to Jensen Jewelers," she said, and wrote it down and gave us a map. "That's where I send people when I can't do it myself. This is your wedding ring; it should be what you want. If they can't do it, come back to me." We were embarrassed and pleased, and thanked her profusely, and I told Eric to buy me some beautiful leaf earrings she had in her booth for Christmas. Around then a festival representative came by with a "best of show" ribbon, so we congratulated her on that, too.

Today we went to Jensen Manufacturing Jewelers. We walked in and stated what we wanted. "Let me get Mike [or John, or Jeff, or whoever]," said the woman we spoke to, and she walked into the back, saying, "Mobia strip rings? Do you know what those are?" We requested paper and tape and demonstrated, and Mike/John/Jeff said, "Oh, okay. That's simple." He fetched a wax mold and explained how he'd do it, and said, "The cost would depend on the weight of the finished ring. It might be $450, or it might go up to $650, it just depends." Eric said, a trifle tentatively, "Is that total, or per ring?" and Mike/John/Jeff said, "That's per ring."

We got out of there shortly afterwards, with a business card and a handshake, and tonight we are e-mailing Debra. We both feel better going back to her, actually. She knew what a Mobius strip was, she made prototypes that we loved, she got a best-in-show award at that festival with pieces we admired (Jensen's stuff was fine, but pretty standard) and of course she'll charge less. The only question is whether or not we'll have her try with the white gold; we're probably going to ask her for an estimate of what it would cost assuming she makes a couple of mistakes, and go from there.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


We went apple-picking today. A bushel and a half of Jonagolds, Granny Smiths, Fujis, Braeburns, and Winesaps. (I'm feeling like 'winesap' shouldn't be capitalized. But all the others are. It's grammar by majority rule.) Plus apple cider and fresh doughnuts and Concord grapes (for everyone but me). It was a great time, a beautiful day, plenty of bushy apple trees where you ducked under the fruit-laden branches and straightened into a green, cool, leafy haven. And all the apples you could eat. I'm told that's part of the price of picking your own, munching as you go along, so we did. I brought home Jonagolds for making apple butter and Granny Smiths for making apple bread and Braeburns and Winesaps for Eric for lunch. I wanted some Fujis for mine, but then I realized I was taking about half the apples as it was, so I'll eat Jonagolds instead. Now I have to go buy jars for canning. (I mentioned to Eric a few weeks ago that I wanted to make apple butter, and he wanted to know why we do canning in jars. Why do we?) I sent Bev an apple cookbook, because she had so many from her tree; now I'm thinking about maybe going back to the store and seeing if they have another copy.

I came home on a diet of apples and doughnuts and had to have something else, so I had: a slice of herb bread, dense and woodsy-tasting because I'd forgotten it's not a good idea to use only whole-wheat flour in a bread; the last bowl of lentil soup, even better than the first bowl; and a peppermint patty, a little stale inside because of a mini-crisis on Friday resulting in my leaving them to dry four hours instead of two but marvelously minty. All made by me. None perfect, but all pretty good. I think I'm doing okay at this cooking/baking thing.

Tomorrow is my first day of work. I'm to report at nine. I expect it'll be an orientation, introduction, and paperwork-filling-out sort of a day, but I'm still a little nervous. But hopeful. And after work? I can go to the store to get jars, because I'll get off at a normal hour and the stores will still be open! This is gonna be good.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I just woke up.

My phone woke me out of a dream that I was S. L. Viehl and writing a writing advice book based on a trip with her granddaughter to a futuristic Eddie Bauer. (I don't know why S. L. Viehl; I haven't read her books or thought of her in quite a while. Eddie Bauer I visited a couple of weeks ago looking for clothes. The future I'm always in dread of.) I decided to take this as a sign: not only is my subconscious crazy, not only did I sleep too long, but I should probably start the day with writing rather than proceeding with my current quilt project. Summer Sunrise is coming along nicely, thank you, now that I've actually worked on it; I spent a lot of the past two days doing that, originally to free up the space on my sewing room floor to get to the closet to put up that $#~!-@#% shelf (it's--the quilt, that is, not the shelf--a bunch of colored squares and I have no internal eye for color, so I had to lay it all out to make sure I wasn't making a horrible mess) and now because I've remembered why I love quilting. I'm not sure I love it enough to attempt quilts for my two aunts who are both contributing to the wedding, but certainly enough to make a couple of baby quilts for my cousin and my future sister-in-law and my old coworker. I feel like there's a bandwagon here I'm missing. Presumably it'll show up at my door, big banners plastered on its sides, when I get married.

I'm rambling rather a lot. I'd say best to get it out of the way now rather than in my draft, but it's a first draft so there's probably no hope. To work with me, then. And later to lunch at an Indian place with the person who was on the phone, and then to Joann Fabrics to get more wedding stuff with the coupon they sent, and then some quilting or perhaps putting up that shelf. It's been a lovely, reasonably productive week off, but I'm glad I'll be going back to work on Monday.

Monday, October 02, 2006

I don't work here anymore.

My last day is over! I no longer work at Company With Lousy Management! My exit interview was soothingly cathartic. I complained and explained (essentially the same complaints that I put in that e-mail, which I did send last week) in response to the questions, and found that the guy who was interviewing me was pretty sympathetic with my point of view. Apparently he had to compile the data from a hundred and ten voluntarily-leaving employees in the past year. That's one hundred and ten (110).

And so I am embarking on one week (minus a day) of glorious freedom. Some of it will be spent doing garden-type work. Sunday I worked on the yard, really worked on it, for the first time. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. However, I'm going to pay for my neglect; there are a million little weed seeds sitting on my future garden expanse, and there's nothing I can do except try to burn them with the little sun that October will afford me. This is what I get for procrastination. Anyway, I'm covering it up with plastic (I have to go buy more plastic, though, and some bricks. Can you believe there are no rocks in my yard? None at all. What kind of dirt is this? Back in Washington the rocks grew in the dirt) and am prepared to spend next spring mostly on my hands and knees, pulling. Plus I will be spreading new topsoil and mulch and all that good stuff. I uprooted all my tomato plants, since they were a tangled mess, and put the green tomatoes in a shoebox to ripen, and I transplanted the strawberries and the chives and picked the Asian pears and all the dill. Eric mowed down the cantaloupe. I also planted shrubs to replace the overgrown and overblown flowers I spent quite a while grubbing up on the side of the house. It looks ever so much nicer now.

And because I spent a lot of last week's work hours reading about seed saving and gardening, I'm fermenting some tomato seeds to keep and see what they grow into in the spring. I already have cantaloupe seeds from a particularly succulent cantaloupe from Anderson's. And come early spring, I will order seeds and get started growing things early. I think I really will. Now that I'm going to have a normal schedule, I should feel more settled.

But that's all in the future. I did my tomato-tending and seed-extracting, and for the rest of the week I'm going to knit and read and write and bake--I made lemon bars for work today but forgot them at home; they're delicious, so I shared some with the mothers and otherwise I'm not too worried--and get ready for a new job and, maybe, a new phase.