Sunday, December 31, 2006

To ring in the new

Christmas went well. I got some good things (including The Bread Bible and a great stone mortar and pestle--I got two, actually, so I traded the steel one in for a kitchen scale, which is also great), and so did Eric, and everyone seemed to like the presents we got them. Mom and Dad appreciated the miniature tree and stockings I sent them, as they never got their boxes of Christmas decorations from the old house, and Bev was delighted with the candles we left for them. Dinner was good--though I learned that preshredded cheese does not work for my mom's potato-cheese casserole. (At what point does it become mine?) We visited people and played games and had a good time.

The week between then and now was also good; it was very quiet at work, and I regained my health and munched my way through most of the popcorn tin. (Ahem. But I love this stuff at Christmas, and I only get it at Christmas.) I spent some time at work writing my 2006 Annual Review, which was longer than I expected, and my goals for 2007. It's been an interesting year, and I have some interesting goals.

In 2006, I started out unemployed. In February I got engaged. In April I went to Korea to visit my family and my mother's homeland for the first time ever. In May I got a job that I turned out to despise. In June I bought a house. In August Eric started school for his education degree. In September I quit the old job and got a new one. In November we heard that my cousin's baby has trisomy 18. That's not much of a way to end the year, but they're doing as well as they can, and otherwise things look good for both our families.

As for goals, here are some of my major ones:

1. Take more time to do the things I want and need to do--writing, crafts, cleaning--rather than give way to shared time. In this past year I've spent a lot of time doing what Eric wanted, or things that we could both do, rather than doing things on my own. I don't think that was wrong, necessarily, but I've been dissatisfied with it, and I think the only way to be less dissatisfied is to give up some of my shared time (which I do love) and take back some of my individual time.

2. Related, I want to be less dissatisfied with myself in general. I spend a lot of time being critical of myself, listing all the things i haven't done, need to do, have failed to do in the past. To-do lists are a good thing, but only so far.

3. Get through the wedding.

4. Write fiction. My two projects that I haven't finished (and want to work on), and just generally get back into the habit of it. I think I'm at a place, mentally and physically, where I can do that now.

5. Write nonfiction. There are some things I'm interested in doing, and I want to pursue this, at least a little bit.

6. Continue spinning. I'm really enjoying this. I've already told Eric he's getting me a spinning wheel for my birthday. (This way he gets me something I really want and he doesn't have to worry about picking it out. Also I'm going to pay for most or all of it.)

7. Continue crafting. I have baby quilts and curtains and socks to make--though nothing urgently, which is a luxury and one I'm enjoying right now. But I like being both creative and productive, and there are some things I want to practice and accomplish.

8. Continue yoga and get into some other regular exercise. I turned out to like yoga a lot more than I thought I would (because of its lack of aerobic effort). I got a yoga mat for Christmas, and that would also be excellent for pilates, which I liked and got out of the habit of in the past several months--see #1.

I think that's doable. I have an "Annual Review 2006" file (also others, under various names, going back several years). I did okay with last year's goals, but that's partly because I didn't set myself many because (a) I was feeling depressed about life and (b) I never finished writing the review. So 2007 has higher standards set for it. I think I can meet them.

And now, to eat French toast and do dishes and fold laundry and get ready for a small but pleasant New Year's party, with food and friends and games and sparkling cider. Welcome, 2007.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas.

The cookies are baked and decorated (if somewhat sloppily, owing to a bad roll of tape rendering my clever parchment-paper decorating tubes useless). The potato-cheese casserole is prepared and in the oven. (It tastes better the next day.) The presents are wrapped, even Eric's to me, and Brenda's house has been decorated and her tree lavishly ornamented. The cold has been reduced to the cough (annoying but endurable) and a little sinus pressure. I think it's gonna be a good Christmas here; I hope it's the same wherever you are.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Hack cough cough hack wheeze gasp cough

I may hate a cough more than any other cold symptom. Especially a dry one like this. I am not confident I'll be able to sleep in more than one-hour segments tonight. The various medicines I'm taking don't seem to help. Yuck yuck yuck.

Tomorrow morning we're going to the bank. Then grocery shopping (I figure at this point the sooner we do it, the better), then possibly visiting with the mothers to cheer them up regarding what may be an extremely suboptimal Christmas schedule. All the while chugging tea.

Friday, December 22, 2006


This cold began weirdly. First with a sore throat, which isn't all that weird. Then, an absolute lack of stuffy or runny nose (which is) and instead an inability to stand up without dizziness and nausea. Then more sore throat and cough. Now it's finally coming into the nose. I have found that drinking hot tea keeps my throat soothed and the cough at bay--but I have to keep drinking it. I am extremely hydrated right now.

The yoga yarn, on the spindle, was ridiculous. When I get home (I’m at work, with an ever-shrinking amount to do) I’ll post a picture. It was around two ounces, 160 yards, which is not in the least an unreasonable amount of yarn. But this was not what a spindle is supposed to look like with yarn on it. There's a hook somewhere at the top, but I couldn’t see it because it was blocked by the excess of yarn. Sometime in 2007, I am getting a spinning wheel. I've been researching them the past few days and I'm thinking a Lendrum, because it's versatile, left-hander-friendly, well-made, pretty, and relatively cheap (for a spinning wheel). That's assuming I buy new. But I'm absolutely not buying anything fiber-related until February, and probably not getting the wheel until my birthday (in April), so I can also look around for used. The yoga instructor (who adored the yarn) promised to keep an ear out for me. Next is Eric's hat yarn, and then some gift yarn while I experiment with different techniques. I think E would like some, and the old needlework group (they still meet, they told me at Marie's shower, though they often play cards rather than working on their projects) would appreciate some, I think--the thought, if nothing else.


There's more blue and green underneath, you just can't tell.

Our last Christmas shopping occurred Wednesday. Yay! It was pretty painless. We went shopping last Sunday, in a moderately bad press of people at the mall, and even though I was sicker, Eric got tired of shopping first. When I said, back in July, that I wanted to work on Christmas shopping in September he scoffed. He expressed horror. He expressed disdain. Sunday I suggested working on Christmas shopping in September next year and he promptly agreed. (We did actually start Christmas shopping in September, at the rock and gem show; we just didn't follow up and finish it.)

When we were out, we discovered that those Visa/Mastercard/AMEX gift cards that work just like cash? They require a $4-$6 activation fee. We were going to send one to Eric's sort-of-sister in Las Vegas (because she just had a baby and what they need now is really money), but we've now decided that we'll either get them a Target gift certificate or just giftwrap some cash.

Last night was cookie making with Michelle. Aside from intervals of impassioned coughing, it went pretty well, though Michelle definitely still needs improvement in the paying-attention-to-the-recipe department. Bev called while we were on the third dough, a gingerbread (she’s going to let me borrow her veil, and also she has donated her old car, which she bought from me exactly four years ago yesterday, to ALA because she has a new car), and Michelle was content to proceed by herself, with the occasional whispered “Yes” or “No” from me when she asked whether she should use the low mixer setting or had she mixed it enough. Once I hung up she announced she was done. I looked at the scrawny, soggy dough and decided to do an audit. She had added only one quarter of the required one and three-quarters cups of flour, half the molasses, and no sugar at all. We fixed that and watched “Muppet Treasure Island,” and then the mothers took her home (with a bike, but she won’t know that until Christmas) and I wrapped presents and went to sleep. I woke up twice, coughing, just like the night before, but at different intervals. My coworker today (one with whom Eric and I are going to double-date, in order to see whether we can reduce a waiter/waitress to tears through sheer pickiness) said I sound better than I did yesterday. This weekend should be a pretty lazy one, so maybe I’ll actually be feeling better by Christmas. I’d take that as a present. It hasn’t been a very festive Christmas season, but I’d settle for health at the end of it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I hate being sick.

I have stuff to say, but no energy to say it. I've got Eric's cold, complete with relapse and lingering cough. Yuck. I hope to be well by Christmas. The yoga yarn was a success; I didn't get a picture of it in the skein but you should see it on the spindle. When I'm better. Or at least less tired.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The best thing I learned today

Saying "Customer Service Representative" as soon as the smarmy automated guy in the Toledo Edison automatic telephone menu starts talking about the main menu will get him to say "I'll transfer you to someone who can help you" immediately.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Yoga yarn, part 2

This is the roving that I dyed last Monday:

And here's what half of it looks like today:

I had debated on whether to split the roving many times, to make stripes, or just the once, to get a two-ply yarn that would go continuously from yellow to green to blue. But I really wanted the one color change, so I split it just the once. Then I realized I only had about two ounces and that might not be enough to make anything, and should I Navajo-ply each half separately to make into two matching yarns, because then Katie could finish the ends of something or make matching wristbands or something? I finished spinning this half of it yesterday (while watching more Alton Brown DVDs, an early Christmas present to Eric) and spooled it onto the back of my chair, which charmingly is just about a yard around, and found that this little skein contains about 200 yards. That's enough to do something with. I could still Navajo-ply it and its twin, which would give me two 70ish-yard skeins, but now that I know there's enough for a hat or a lacy scarf I'm happy to just make the one big skein. So I've got slightly over a week to spin the other half, ply and set.

In the meantime, I've been doing a little writing, plus decorating the house, doing housework, making earrings for Michelle from Santa (imitations of some earrings she saw at a craft show we went to Thursday that she couldn't have because she doesn't have pierced ears), and taking care of my poor sick fiance. He's feeling marginally better, but I'm starting to seriously consider Dad's recommended remedy of honey, lemon, and whiskey.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Yoga creativity

I had yoga tonight. It's something that the mothers and their friend and I have been doing, every other week (except two weeks ago), since September, and while I wouldn't have said I needed it--I'm pretty stretchy anyway, due to ballet then and pilates now (well, a much more recent then)--I've been enjoying it very much. The instructor, Katie, also knits, and she's working on her third book and looking for an agent. She always has a lot of energy and warmth, and I enjoy having her over. (We do this at my house; she used to have classes but stopped because the rent was too much. She says if she had my house she'd do classes out of the living room.) Today we talked about a sweater she designed herself, and how she hurt herself helping a friend, and in the actual class we did a bunch of stretching. And I felt like being creative. I told her this, and she nodded and said, "Isn't it great?" When they left I dyed some merino/tencel into a springy blue/green/yellow colorway to make her a Christmas present. I've got one spindle free, I can do it in two weeks. And I wrote about six hundred words on Shoelace--switching POVs helped a lot. And I made my poor sick stressed fiance laugh. Maybe there are more reasons than I thought for making time for exercise.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Craft babbling will now commence. With pretty pictures!

This is the merino-silk roving that I dyed with what Eric tells me is Prussian blue:

The plan is for me to spin it on my new spindle, which came today--finally, after three weeks; I wrote yesterday to ask what was taking so long and the spindle maker wrote back to say his wife's grandmother had died, he was sorry for the delay, and I felt lousy. But it's a lovely, lovely spindle, the Quantum Butterfly in padauk.

Here the roving is tied at the one-third and two-thirds marks, because I want to make a three-ply yarn and I don't spin evenly enough to trust a Navajo ply and I figure the way to waste the least will be to divide the roving into thirds while it's still relatively easy to handle, not when I've got six hundred yards of single. The card is my sample, and it confirms that I love this fiber, this color and this plying choice. It's probably going to come out to be about five stitches per inch, which is reasonable for a hat and doesn't tax my love for the recipient too severely.

I also finished those extremely cute baby booties for Marie's baby, but it's too late to go take a picture now. These booties are now going to be my stock baby shower gift, I think. Each one took about an hour to make and the set hardly dented the ball of yarn.

I hear rain outside and I hope that meant it about not getting down to freezing tonight. Tomorrow will be bad enough without icy roads. Saturday I plan to go to Jungle Jim's after the shower and spend a couple of hours there, then head back up for house maintenance and Christmas shopping and such. At work tomorrow I will be doing not much, as usual, but that might change next week. We'll see. And I might be watching someone perform a long test, though she hasn't seemed particularly welcoming--though not unwelcoming either--and I hate to push myself in like that; but I may as well try to earn my paycheck by being pushy as not.

Okay, that was a tangent I didn't mean to get on, and it's late. Sleep beckons and I answer.