Wednesday, November 26, 2003

No pitchas today, kiddies. Still plugging away on the button bands for LoTech Papoose-a-Long Sangria. Mebbe after Turkey Day, hokay?

You're Such a Blockhead, Charlie Brown
A coworker has taken up knitting again after a long hiatus. She dropped by Chez Cube to ask, "How important is it to block your work? And do you need all the fancy blocking tools they sell?" I answered, "Yes, you absolutely need to block your work, and no, I've made do with my floor and towels for years." I really tried communicate to her that taking the time to properly block and finish your knitting makes all the difference between a finely-crafted piece of handmade clothing and a lumpy blob that smacks of "loving hands at home." The only thing I insisted she invest in were rust-proof pins. After that, you can pin on towels on the floor, on a piece of insulating tile, whatever floats your boat. As for myself, I think if I was to spring for any of the fancy blocking toys available, it'd be either blocking wires or a gridded blocking board. Hey, Santa! Ya listening?

Strange Jobs I've Held #3
Well, that title isn't quite accurate. The job itself (selling clothes at a store in a mall during the Christmas shopping season) was pretty pedestrian, but the customers were sometimes anything but. This was another in a series of post-divorce, part-time (after a full day at my regular job), pay-off-the-credit-cards gigs. Strange the things you find out about yourself -- I'm a very shy person, but I'm actually quite a good salesperson. In the short time I actually worked at Store X, I developed a return customer base and did quite well. Bummer I wasn't on commission.

The nights were crazy-busy but fun. Most of the holiday shoppers were in pretty good moods, and I was able to shrug off the occasional Scrooge. Until the night the gypsies came to the mall. Perhaps you've seen gypsies depicted in the books and movies. A fairly accurate portrayal of gypsies is the 1978 movie "King of the Gypsies" starring Eric Roberts. They truly are a vagabond bunch, and live outside society's restrictions. They have no compunctions about using their children to create distractions, during which they'll steal a merchant blind.

At first sighting, the jungle drums started beating and stores up and down the mall began calling each other to spread the word that we had gypsies.

Sure enough, about an hour after the initial warning, the gypsies descended upon our store. Three young women, two old grandmothers, six kids under 10 years old, and two swarthy, slickly dressed men, one in his 20s and one in his 40s.

The kids immediately started running in and out of the rounders (the circular clothing racks), dressing rooms, the employee's break room in the back, in a word, anywhere they could get to. While kid-chaos ensued, the women, chattering like magpies in some Romney-Hungarian dialect, started grabbing huge armloads of clothes and dragging them to the dressing rooms. The men went to the back of the store near the cash registers where 2 rounders of leather coats was placed. There were locks on the hangers, and the men started demanding that we unlock the coats so they could try them on. The fact that they were women's coats didn't phase them at all.

All this happened in the space of less than 2 minutes. It was 3 store employees versus 13 gypsies. We didn't stand a chance. One of us manned the dressing rooms, one stayed with the men trying on leather coats, and one tried to keep track of six running, screaming gypsy children.

The women in the dressing rooms loudly demanded that we, "Get me this in size 6!" "I want this in black! Black!" and "Go! Go get my husband! I want him to see me in this!" The two grandmothers, both wizened-looking little women who might have been anywhere from 50 to 90 years old, crept around fingering scarves and earrings. We'd been warned from the other stores in the mall about how the gypsies operated, and it was true to form. Create as much chaos and distraction as possible, and steal as much as you can.

After about 20 minutes of madness, the gypsies clattered and banged their way out of the store. We didn't lose any leather coats, but the manager estimated we lost about 8 pair of jeans, 3 sweaters, and handfuls of t-shirts. We found out later that other stores got hit as well. Wilsons Leather (who doesn't lock their displays) lost a bunch of merchandise. Amazing, and unlike anything I've experienced before or since.

Happy Turkey Day, everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Another Knitting Amy!
This brings us to six. We are Amy. We are legion.

Quixotic Moments Amy

  • Got me some new peeps, I did:

    Exile in Cubeville

    Vera Wang. Very chi-chi. Plus, my eyes aren't crossed at the end of a full day of pixel pushing.

    Issues in the Hood
    Hmmm. I think I shoulda turned left at Albuquerque, as Bugs Bunny used to say. The hood for LoTech Sangria is rather, well, big. I bound off the moss-stitched edging and plopped it on my head last night. I looked like Death in Monte Python's The Meaning of Life ("It was ... the salmon mousse!") I could carry a newborn baby in this thing; it's that big. Sooo, I'm going to go ahead and finish the button bands and sew up the darn thing. We may be heading for a dunk in the frog pond over the Thanksgiving holiday, at least for the hood. Stay tuned.

    Friday, November 21, 2003

    Laid Out on a Slab
    I'm about halfway through the hood for LoTech Sangria. Knitting it is about as exciting as watching paint dry. It's times like this I wish I had one of those nifty Bond Ultimate Sweater Machines so I can zoop-zoop the carriage back 'n forth and bang out this big 'ol slab of stockinette. Maybe a USM should go on my Christmas list? Hmmm … it sure would be nice to avoid this:

    Cruel & Unusual Punishment: The Endless Stockinette Hood

    Speaking of Christmas …
    Does anyone remember Ideals magazines?

    Ideals Christmas issues from the early 1970s

    The coming of the Christmas season always brings up memories of the new Ideals Christmas issue arriving at my grandma's house. Ideals and the Sears Wish Book were my big escapes during the holiday season. Ideals issues were published for major holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving, but there were also seasonal issues for Summer, etc. Ideals magazines were uber-wholesome, and had gorgeous, Technicolor-bright photography. I remember beautiful photographs of snowy fields, indoor photographs of glittery, decorated Christmas trees in peaceful, idyllic homes, and lavish food spreads. In the older Ideals there were never any people, just empty scenes to imagine yourself in. I didn't pay much attention to the limited text -- they were heavy on Bible passages and poems and didn't appeal to me. But the photographs transported me to a colorful, make-believe world and no doubt influenced my eventual career choice as a graphic designer.

    Happy Friday, everyone.

    Tuesday, November 18, 2003

    I'm an Amy, You're an Amy, Dontcha Wanna Be an Amy, Too?

    Apologies to Marcia for appropriating the Dr. Pepper (Dr. Heifer?) song for myself :-)

    Must be a crafty imperative -- if you're named Amy, You Must Knit!

    Knitty Amy:

  • IndiGirl Amy:

  • And our newest Amy:

  • Oops! A Late-Breaking Amy, courtesy of Kerstin. It's Cyborgoddess Amy:

  • And of course, moi.

    Awright, I realize 4 5 doth not a gang make, but I thought it a bit of a coinky-dink.

    New Pattern Alert!
    Bonne Marie Burns of ChicKnits fame has published the long-anticipated pattern for Mrs. CB's Camp Jacket. Bonne's mom made the original jacket many years ago. Bonne collaborated with her mom to recreate and improve the jacket. The pattern is a bargain at $4.95, available on Bonne's website for immediate purchase and download.

    Meanwhile, Back in LoTech Land
    Still plugging away at the LoTech Sangria. Should have the sleeves finished tonight (woo hoo!) My blog sistah Marcia described it as looking thus, and so it shall be known from now on.

    Sleeves of Fruity Goodness!

    A Wooly AND Worthy Charity

    Teresa, Deb, and Wendy have created a wonderful charity for this holiday season. Read all about The KnitBloggers Knitting Basket Project here.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2003

    Update from the Ark (Thurs. 11/13): Insurance Adjuster and Contractor's Estimator toured the wreckage yesterday. I don't think I was supposed to hear this, but I overheard Insurance Adjuster say to Estimator, "Oh my goodness. I wasn't expecting this." The upshot is that we're getting all new carpet on the 2nd floor, plus the entire stairway. All drywall, trim work, and painting of the affected walls will be done. We're going to pay to have the rest of the interior of the house painted: 1) because it needs it; and 2) the workers are there and working, anyway, so why not get it all done at once. 2-3 week leadtime before they can get started, but the actual work will take only a few weeks. Hopefully, we'll have a fully restored house in time for the New Year. Thank you to everyone for your kind comments and encouragement during this rather trying time for our family.

    I've never been a huge Elizabeth Zimmerman fan, but her famous quote has been appropriate for me during the last few weeks:

    Knit on,
    with confidence and hope,
    through all crises.

    And so I have. Here's the proof:

    Got Your Back

    Left & Right Front

    Two! Two! Two Sleeves at Once!

    Protecting Me & Mine
    After the latest crisis, I've decided to implement new security procedures here at Casa de YarnOver. Here's my new Security Team, flying in from Mexico this afternoon:

    Badges? We Don't Need No Stinking Badges!

    Their job is to maintain order and prevent future teenage hijinks via strategic ankle nipping. Seriously, my mother thinks I've blown a circuit because I want to get one of these little hairless wonders someday. I've got a Coach bucket bag all picked out for him/her to ride around in. Plus, these little guys are always in need of chic little sweaters for warmth.

    I must have been influenced during my 2-year stint of living in La Jolla. Rich ladies, young and old, carried teeny dogs around town in designer handbags all the time. Saw it while living in Palm Springs, too. Though I haven't got the "rich" part figured out, yet ...

    Kerstin says that the phrase "cute chihuahua" is an oxymoron. Hmmph. She's adopting a cute kittycat very soon and may be just slightly biased :-)

    Wish Me Luck
    The insurance adjuster visits Ground Zero tomorrow. This should be interesting ... before they've even visited the house, they're already on the offensive, saying, "Well, you realize we're not going to replace all your carpet, right?" Uh, I beg to differ. The water reached all the rooms upstairs. That constitutes complete replacement in my book. We've got a real fireball of an attorney waiting in the wings, just in case. I hope it doesn't come to that. I don't want anything more expensive than what I had. I'm not out to rip off the insurance company. I just want my house restored back to the way it used to be. That's all.

    Please take a moment today to remember our veterans, current and past, and the sacrifices they've made for all of us.

    Wednesday, November 05, 2003

    Update from The Ark (Friday, 11/07): Demolition crew at our house Thursday from 1pm to 10pm. Downstairs bathroom (immediately below the flooded upstairs bathroom) was completely gutted to down to the wall studs. Upstairs carpeting torn out on the landing, office, RockStar's room, and part of master bedroom. Carpeting for the entire upstairs will have to be replaced. Drywall gutted next to and behind the refrigerator (walls abut downstairs bathroom). Drywall gutted in garage (walls abut downstairs bathroom). Furnace & hotwater heater will have to be professionally removed and the platform they rest on rebuilt. Entire affected areas powerwashed and disinfected. Six noisy blowers and two huge dehumidifiers left running all night. Damages will total around $15,000. That was one expensive clogged toilet, RockStar.

    Will This Teenager Live to See Adulthood?
    RockStar is working my last nerve, I tell ya. No knitting news tonight as I have a semi-urgent plumbing emergency to deal with as soon as I get home. Said incident involves a clogged toilet, stuck (open) water valve, gallons of water running out of the bathroom into the hall and 2 bedrooms, down through the walls, and into the garage. Stanley Steemer and their water extraction thingy to the rescue at 5pm. The only reason the 2nd level of my house isn't collapsed onto the 1st floor is the mad ShopVac'ing of gallons of water, done at 9pm last night. This isn't RockStar's first plumbing offense, but it's certainly going to be the most expensive. He's been warned several times about his poor treatment of the house plumbing. Reparations to besieged parental units will be factored in at some future date. Probably in the form of fewer musical lessons or some other impact-ful item.

    So to amuse you until I can return to Pure Knitting Content, I present several of the jobs I've held prior to graduating from college:

    Strange Jobs I've Held #1
    My first real job, after the obligatory babysitting, was as a waitress in a truckstop diner in a very rural part of Oregon. I was 15 years old. I served breakfast, lunch and dinner to flannel-shirt and Levi's-clad loggers either on their way to or out of the Oregon woods. Not exactly a dainty bunch. But they were always polite to me, and left very nice tips. One of the younger loggers even asked me out, sort of. I returned to bus their table after they'd left, and the cute young one left his phone number, written in mustard from a squirt bottle, across his plate. No, I didn't call him! I'm not that kind of girl, thank you very much. But it's a fun story.

    Strange Jobs I've Held #2
    After my divorce, I had a pile of credit card bills to pay off. My sister was working an outside sales job for a temporary staffing agency, and clued me in on a part-time evening job at the Oregon Health Sciences Center (a teaching hospital in Portland). The job, according to her, was super easy: walk around the hospital with a little steel cart and stock various nursing stations with nursy stuff like cotton balls and tongue depressors.

    I reported for work the next night, and hooked up with 1 little cynical guy and 1 huge guy who spoke in monosyllables. Cynical Guy took one look and me and laughed. At this point, I started to get worried. "C'mon," he said, "If we get all our work done, we get to leave early." We take an elevator deep into the bowels of the hospital. Cynical Guy points to a rolling steel cart at least a foot taller than me that weighed (what felt like) 200 lbs. It was also nearly unmaneuverable. "Grab a cart," he says, "and follow me."

    So Monosyllabic Guy and I grab carts and follow Cynical Guy and his cart down the hall to the service elevator. I can barely push this friggin' monstrosity of a cart, and inwardly I'm cursing my sister for getting me into this mess. "Just get through tonight, and quit tomorrow," I told myself. We go up to one of the upper floors of the hospital, and wrestle the carts out into the hallway. "Follow me," says Mr. Cynical, "and don't bump into any of the equipment in the halls. They're worth big bucks and they'll have our asses if we break any of them." He and Monosyllable Guy speedwalk their steel carts down the hall, nimbly maneuvering the carts around the delicate equipment. Great. Now I have to worry about running a 200-lb steel trolley into a heart monitor or dialysis machine.

    We trundle down the hall to a Surgical Unit. Cynical Guy goes in and starts heaving sealed plastic bags out into the hallway. The bags contain blood- and fluid-streaked discarded surgical clothing. They also have prominent biohazard stickers all over them. We toss the bags into bins on the steel carts and speedwalk to the next collection point. And that was my "super easy" temporary job, courtesy of my sis. During a much-too-short break on an outdoor loading dock, Cynical Guy gives me a once-over and asks if I'm going to make it through the next 3 hours. "No problem," I say. I'll be damned if this twerp is going to get the best of me.

    Near the end of the shift, as we're wrapping up collections at the last surgical area, this chick goes tripping past us with a dainty steel cart full of nice, light supplies like, oh, tongue depressors and cotton balls. She's smiling, and tosses a cheery, "Good evening!" to our steel biohazard train. I'm totally pitted out with sweat, out of breath, and my hair is straggling in my face. I watch Little Miss Tongue Depressor tip-tap her way down the hall, and vow to kill have a word with my sister when I get home.

    Maybe next time I'll tell you about the other temporary job my sis got me applying fake nails at the Oregon State Fair.

    Monday, November 03, 2003

    Whoop! Whoop! Project Alert!
    Much as I'd like to participate in Kerstin's D.B. Biker Knit-a-Long, I'm afraid it just wouldn't suit my rather, um, zaftig figure at this time. So we're consoling ourselves with this lovely and flattering poncho from Lopi #21:

    Jon & Ponch: Remember them?

    I’ve got 11 skeins of Lite Lopi in Oatmeal ordered from Woodland Woolworks and soon we’ll be ponch, ponch, ponching along.

    It's Official …
    … I'm getting dumber. As in stupid, not deaf (although RockStar had a hearing test today … playing that devil music too loud). I took an IQ test at eMode and scored 118. My last IQ score in high school was 125. But a 7-point fall-off in 23 years ain't too bad, is it? Is it? (reassure me here, folks)

    Performance Anxiety in Preschool
    On Halloween, we hang out with our neighbors, Eric & Elizabeth, both of whom are doctors serving in the Navy here in San Diego. Their darling 2-1/2 year old daughter Sara bobbles back and forth between our two driveways in all her cuteness during the evening candy distribution. Eric was saying that he and Elizabeth just had a parent-teacher conference and were told that Sara is doing great, but that they (the parents) needed to work with her on her "triangle and square recognition." Excuse me? The child is 2-1/2 years old. I believe that at 2-1/2 I was busy ordering my best friend Tomako around and cadging donuts from the neighbors during daily stroller rides with my mom. I think I learned my square and triangle recognition by whether my (square) sandwich was cut into 2 pieces diagonally (triangle). I'm sure Mom worked with me on basic stuff, but I'm also sure we didn't get quite so, well, granular with our learning. Ah, progress.