Fun and Games on a Friday Night

Owing to a perennial Social Security shortfall, I work from 3 p.m. to midnight Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays as a medical transcriptionist on the computer in my second bedroom.   Wednesday, I received an email from my boss telling everyone that we’re an MT short this weekend due to sickness, so when I got up, I had every intention of stepping up to the plate and working all night to help take up the slack.  Also, Friday and Saturday are the last two days of the pay period, and seeing as how I also have this knitting habit to support,  I wanted to make some hay while the sun was shining. . .

While I’m girdling my loins to go to work and taking care of business, guess what? My toilet runneth over!  I mean, totally full bowl (used, of course) overflowing all over the little mat that goes around the foot of the toilet, and all back behind it — with two cats up on the counter jonesing to drink out of the sink.  The first thing I have to do is chase the cats out and shut the bathroom door because given 1/100,000th of a chance, the white one would be right in the middle of the mess on the floor and would probably try to drink it.  Before I can pull the other mats out of the way, one is already halfway wet and water is still puddling so I sprint into the other room to get the “rag towels” — a couple of really old towels I keep for just such emergencies —  and throw them down to stem the tide.  I grab the cordless phone by my bed and call the poor maintenance guy to come snake the sewer line.   Again. 2015_02_26-04

Of course, between yesterday and today, we got about 3 inches of snow, the roads are a mess, they closed the apartment manager’s office and told everybody (maintenance guys included) not to come to work today and the on-call maintenance guy lives halfway across town.  It’s also colder than the proverbial wedge with a brutal wind into the bargain.  I’ve had to herd the kitties off into the bedroom area and put the screen across the hall doorway, because the drain snake has to be plugged in and this building has no outside plugs/points.  (Does it sound like I’ve been through this before?  Yep.)   It took the maintenance guy almost 20 minutes to get here.

In the meantime, I’ve booted up the computer, fired off one email to my boss to the effect that my toilet is backed up and has overflowed all over the floor, the maintenance guy will come snake the drain as soon as he can catch the dogs, harness them to the dog sled and mush over here, and I’ll be on working once the tumult and the shouting has died and the Captains and Kings have departed,* and a second email to the apartment manager which was, I thought, remarkably civil and restrained considering the circumstances.  While I’m waiting, I boot up the programs I’m going to need for work and check what’s in my work pool and nothing is due for at least six hours yet so I’m cool.

2015_02_26-01Anon, the maintenance man cometh, and knocks on the door, hands me the plug, and I plug it in to the electrical outlet in my washer/dryer area while he heads to the trap and starts feeding the drain snake down the trap.  Never mind that I have the drill down pat by now, we are both heavily invested in accomplishing the task at hand as quickly and efficiently as possible, because he’s out snaking a drain in subzero weather and has to kneel in the snow to do it, and I can’t completely shut the front door as there is an electrical cord in the way, and guess which way the wind is blowing!  Did I mention that this scenario has happened so often lately that the maintenance guys took the top off the drain trap and put it in their maintenance room and don’t even bother putting it back on any more because, guess why?   The people upstairs, the ones with the kids that are into indoor Parkour, cannot seem to be dissuaded from flushing baby wipes down the toilet and clogging up the durn sewer line.  But then, why should they stop?  It’s not their toilet running over, after all.  And since nobody can prove it’s them doing it . . . . (I have since learned that the two older children are her sister’s, and that they have two toddlers, and it’s the younger one, a little girl, oddly enough, that makes all the noise) . . .  my only hope is that they’ll get  Running Girl potty trained soon . . .

2015_02_26-02Speaking of toilets, the container of cat litter I already had in the house was less full than I thought it was and I’d used the last of it yesterday,  and since I’m already cold, I put on my hoodie and mush out to the parking lot to get a full container out of the trunk/boot of the car.  I know.  I should have made a second trip and brought in the the two containers I bought Wednesday night because I knew the weather was going to turn ugly, but I was led astray by a Sonic chili cheese coney dog with onions. . .

2015_02_27-04So now, I’m an hour late for work, cleaning the bathroom floor with Clorox cleaner with bleach, and I hear a BLOOP! BLOOP! that tells me progress has been made.   The maintenance guy rewinds the drain snake, I hand him the extension cord plug, and we are good to go.  I load up the washing machine with wet towels and all the mats from that bathroom, set the controls for “heavy duty” and “hot” and then settle in at the computer and get to work.   When the washing machine finished washing, I took the opportunity to break for some lunch (ravioli!). Since I don’t put my nonskid bath mats in the dryer because it eventually ruins the rubber backing and since I don’t have a clothes line any more (and it would be too durn cold to go out and stand in the snow to use it anyway), I have this nifty folding clothes rack.  They work just fine, and as much as the heater has been on this evening, we can use the extra humidity.

In other news, I have new 2015_02_26-05neighbors across the way who have young kids, and a honking great barbecue.  I wonder what they like to do when the weather’s warm?

Our predicted low tonight was revised to 14F/-10C.  When I looked at my weather widget a while ago, the temperature was 13F/-10.5C.  Supposed to have a high of 39F/3.8C tomorrow, but it’s supposed to get up to 60F/15.5C Sunday.

Of course, some of us had an easier time of it this evening than others . . . .2015_02_27-03

Bubba Can Haz Snow

We’ve already got snow, with more promised.  It’s pellets of snow, actually, which tells me it’s thawed and refrozen on the way down.  We’re promised more snow tomorrow and a wintery mix on Saturday.  High today is predicted to be 34F/1.11C with the low tonight of 16F/8.88C, a high tomorrow of 26F/3.33C.  Sunday, it’s supposed to get back up into the middle  60sF/15+C for the rest of next week.

We’re getting off off light, actually.  They had more than a foot of snow in Guin, Alabama, and 10 inches in Tremont, Mississippi.  They had snow all across the northern portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and in the Carolinas and Virginia.   There were people stuck on interstate highway I-65 all night in Alabama.Screenshot_11I am so glad I work from home.  This is what it looks like for the weekend.   The people in those areas are not used to that kind of snow.  Most of those places, if they get half an inch, they close the schools.  The Bubbas will be out in force on the ATVs.  There will be ” hold my beer” moments.  I’d be willing to bet money somebody will go sledding on either a sofa or a bed and put it on YouTube.

Screenshot_12I’m also glad I don’t have to be flying anywhere.  The saying is if you’re going to hell, you have to go through Dallas, but Dallas is getting more snow and freezing rain, etc., and it’s disrupting air travel everywhere.

I think I’m going to go make me a bacon and tomato sandwich.


Here We Go Again

Forecast for Sunday night
Forecast for Monday

Screenshot_8We’re hunkered down here, and I have hot tea and lap robes.  Oddly enough, the first two weather maps look a whole lot like the weather maps for New Year’s Day of what we had to drive through on our way home from Houston.   I am so glad not to have to be out driving in that mess.

As I have noted previously, if we have any kind of precipitation during what remains of predawn Monday, we will have Demolition Derby Day on the city streets.  I am so glad I work from home — even though I technically should have stopped working about two hours ago.  I’m still at it because there are half a dozen reports that are getting close to the turn-around time (TAT) limit, which is the period of time within which the company I work for has agreed to get reports typed and sent back to the hospital, so I’m going to try to take care of as many as I can before I stop work.  Besides, it ain’t like I’m not getting paid for it.  I’ve got two VR (voice recognition) reports to edit, and there are about 4 reports that need to be typed from scratch.  We’ll see how much I can do before I poop out.

10933976_10204680386587819_1178929950919039627_nI bought this knitting bowl.  I wish it had a notch in the lid, but I can use it without the lid.  It’s 9 inches wide.  It was discounted because the glaze melted off onto the kiln and she had to do some filing — on the base, one presumes, but possibly on the lid.  No biggie.  She calls it her kitty proof yarn bowl.  “Kitty proof” is definitely a desirable attribute in this household.

At least this potter got the curved sided bowl right.   Having a notch in the lid would make it durn near perfect.   I really wanted this one, which does have a notched lid, but as you can see, it’s rather pricy.

I shall have to add to my “targets of opportunity” list a large oval soup tureen with a notch in the lid for a ladle — which would be perfect for doing things that need two balls of yarn — like two at a time socks, or two at a time sleeves.  Maybe I can find one on Ebay.

I have an idea for a vest that is knitted sideways and then joined at the shoulder seams. which means you could have all kinds of fun stuff like cables.  Still plotting it in my mind.  In the meantime, I downloaded this pattern to do for my mom and got some more Hometown USA in the El Paso Autumn color to make it with and some large wooden buttons are on the way, to be here Tuesday.  In the meantime, I have the baby afghan to finish — today without fail! — and a pair of socks, a shrug, the hot pink scarf and hat, and my hat/scarf combo to finish . . . .

As the Horseshoe Cable Turns

Horseshoe cableI believe I’ve mastered the horseshoe cable stitch pattern.  The horseshoe (or staghorn) cable is really two twisted cables side by side that twist in opposite directions.  The pattern is also reversible.  The left-hand cable has a CXF (cable forward x  number of stitches) immediately followed by a CXB (cable back x number of stitches), while the right-hand cable is just the opposite, CXB, CXF.  I’ve written a scarf pattern that takes advantage of this. The cable changes direction at the midpoint of the scarf.  First you do the beginning border, then you start the first pattern which, after 12 repeats, transitions to the second pattern.  After 12 repeats of the second pattern, you do the ending border.

2015_02_21-04 The “cup” of the horseshoe cable always points to the end of the scarf because right at the midpoint, the cable changes direction.  It’s hard to see in the pictures, but it’s just too slick, if I say so myself. The transition point is level with the bottom of my thumb on the right-hand part of the scarf.   It has a 2-stitch garter stitch edge and a purl background for the cable.  The scarf is only 16 stitches wide so it goes really fast.  I used 2 skeins of Lion Brand Hometown USA 4 oz/113 g, 64 yd/59 m, Color #217 El Paso Autumn, which is a beautiful mottled brownish gold.  I’m really happy with the way the pattern works out.  It’s intended for my mom.  I hope to finish it today because tomorrow I’m going to finish the baby afghan if it harelips the governor so I can mail it to the little kid Tuesday on my way to knitting group — assuming I can cram it into the box I’ve got and don’t have to go to the UPS store and buy a bigger box  (and assuming the roads are clear — it’s supposed to snow Monday).  I discovered something interesting about that pattern I’m using, and the stripes — the little twisty bits that result from the yarn overs have both strands of the same color on one side, but the strands are different colors on the other  side.  Now I’m going to have to play around with the pattern and see if I can figure out how to get them the same color on both sides.








The color values of the blue and the green are the same, so it’s hard to tell the colors from the photos

Now I have to go clean up after the kitties and take out the garbage.  My weather widget says it’s 36F/2.2C out and predicts a high of 40F/4.4C today with some kind of precipitation.  Thankfully, the trip to the dumpster is less than 50 feet.

Freeze Dried and Cabled

Weather Widget 02-20-2015As you can see from the weather widget to the left (those of the metric persuasion, see below right) our predicted high for today is going to be 80F/26.6C and Sunday’s predicted high is 36F/2.22C with rain/sleet, a low of 19F/-7.22C, and snow forecast on Monday.  Oh, what fun.  Just so the weather behaves long enough for me to get to knitting group and back.

My January electric bill (I have electric everything now — both heating and cooling) was higher than the proverbial giraffe’s ears.  $131/£85.3.  And that’s with my Weather Widget 02-20-2015 in metric unitsthermostat set at 68F/20C.  My December bill was only $65/£42.32.  I hear from the apartment manager that the whole complex’s bills were high for January.  What that tells me is that somebody didn’t read the meters last month and just guestimated December’s bill, and then when the meters were read this month the discrepancy was charged through on this month’s bill.  The lady at LP&L assured me that everybody’s bills were high because there were 28 days of below freezing weather during the January billing period.  That may be, but still . . .  If this keeps up, I may have to set my thermostat back to 65F/18.3C.

IMG_2005I’m working on a horseshoe cable scarf for my mom (see below).  I’m going to try to get it finished by Saturday.  It’s only 16 stitches wide.  I’m also working on a scarf (see left) to match the PeptoBismol pink hat, with my BFF as the targeted recipient.  I’m also going to try working out a cabled scarflet in an light ecru knitting worsted where the cable goes over the top of the loop you pull the scarf through.

IMG_2006I have 30+ rows to go on the baby afghan.  I   going to finish it this week, hopefully Monday.  I think I’m going to wash and dry it once before I send it to get all the cat dander off it.  The photograph does not do the color justice.  The color of the yarn has more brown in it than what the photograph shows.

I’m turning into my mom.  I’ve started falling asleep in the chair, particularly after I’ve eaten.  I just glunk out.  My mom has a long history of falling asleep in the chair after supper.  She gets put out with herself because half the time she’ll be watching something on TV she’s really interested in, and glunks out and misses half of it.  I did it the other day sitting at the computer.  I had lunch, and about half an hour later, out like a light.  I might nap for half an hour, or a couple of hours.  I think it’s a factor of trying to cram too much into a day combined with my wonky schedule because of working second shift (3 p.m. to midnight) on the weekends.

Ballard Street © 2015 Jerry Van Amerongen


Cold Cases, Cold Scheduling, and an Ear Dud

At knitting group last Tuesday, one of the Library Ladies (our meeting is held in one of the branch libraries, which building also contains a meeting room that is available for community use) came in to tell us, very apologetically, that we would not be able to use the room this coming week because apparently unbeknownst to the right hand, the left hand had very rudely scheduled our meeting room out from under us.  We were offered the option of skipping a week, or having our meeting at the south end of the library area.  She also made mention that at the north end of the library area, a man was going to speak about cold cases he had worked on, which means he is or was involved in solving homicides at some level of law enforcement.

LK, one of the knitting ladies, said she knows the man, and that she was very interested in hearing him speak.  As I pointed out, we do not knit with our ears, so we could bring a mindless knitting project (AKA “TV Knitting”), which is one that does not require too much attention be paid to it, and kill two birds with the proverbial stone.  (My mind leapt to the baby afghan.)  (Yes, I know.)   She and I, and possibly SD of the consolation hat plan to come hear the man speak, although LK said that SD has a sinus infection and that she also has company*.  The company is supposed to leave before our next knitting group, but it remains to be seen whether the sinus infection will have left as well and whether SD will feel like getting out.  However, LK and I will be there, doing the Madame Defarge bit.  One would think that a homicide detective of whatever stripe would not be put too far out of countenance by knitters in the audience.   I emailed my mom and asked her if she wanted to go, too.  Now that the car I’m driving is one that was made in this decade (which now has over 1300 miles on it, BTW), I could go pick her up. . . .

In other news, the earbuds I was using with my computer have malfunctioned.  The “war**” to one of the buds has broken so I only get sound out of one bud.  The other bud is a dud.  I have earbuds all over the place — one with my Kindle, one on each of my MP3 players (did I mention I found the MP3 player I thought I’d lost or had been stolen in the fracas of the move? — I’d put it somewhere safe where I would remember where I’d put it and find it again . . . which I did, by accident, four months later, after I’d bought another MP3 player, and another 32-GB chip to replace it!), as well as a spare set I had tucked away.  The problem is, they all have shorter cords than the Skullcandy ones I was using.  I’ve ordered a pair and a spare from Amazon just now.

*guests.  “Company” applies to anyone who comes to your house to visit you, whether they stay for minutes, hours, overnight, or days at a time. This is a regional usage, but I’m not sure how big the region is — Texas, Southern US or larger portion of the US, or US vs other English speaking countries. . .
**Texan for “wire.”

Mozart of Kennebec , Literary Cat

mozart-Sep-20-2005-300x225Mozart of Kennebec

March 1, 1998 to February 9, 2015

Two of my favorite authors, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller had to make that hard choice Monday to say goodbye to their Maine Coon companion Mozart, who they adopted into their household 11 years ago.  He was less than a month shy of his 18th birthday.  He came to his vocation, literary cat, later in life, but as Sharon said, “He was a good friend, gentle, and interested in all things, even That Reading Thing, which he had to learn to care about.”

I am sitting here crying as I write this, although I never met the little guy, because I’ve had to make that hard choice myself and I know what a difficult and painful decision it is.  I have no patience for those “it was only a …” people.  They miss the point so completely.  The point is that we make a deliberate choice to include in our lives and in our homes a species of animal different from our own.  We accommodate their different needs and adapt our homes to make room for them.  We make their welfare and comfort important to us.  Even so, it’s not about what we do for them, it’s about what they do for us.  Caring for those “it was only a ….” shifts the center of our lives to a place outside of ourselves.  It exercises the muscles of our spirits that make us more human and better humans. It enriches us, makes us more thoughtful, more compassionate, more empathetic.  That’s what love is about.  It doesn’t matter who or what we love.  What matters is that we love.  Even when loving brings us to that hard and painful decision that it is time to say goodbye, it is still far better to love than not to love.

Mozart was loved, and he will be missed, not just by Sharon and Steve, and Scrabble, Trooper and Sprite, who knew him personally and whose lives he shared, but by those of us who knew him vicariously through Sharon’s blog.

Too Much Information!

Squirreling away at work tonight, trying to keep things within turn around time limits on two platforms (dictation that needs to be typed and dictation that the speech recognition engine typed that needs to be proofread and corrected) — Not unlike juggling plates on poles.   Could not remember if EMLA cream was all capitals or not, and while I was googling to make sure, I found this which is essentially EMLA cream rebranded and aimed at a specific target market.  When I stopped laughing at the name, I realized that there isn’t an equivalent product targeted at women since obviously women are long inured to Suffering for Beauty, have higher pain thresholds (as is well known), and can pull out large areas of body hair without batting an eye so there is apparently no demand for such a product and, yes, because men are basically big wusses when it comes to bikini waxes — or any kind of waxing, come to that

The cosmetics industry has already convinced women that having hairy legs and armpits is nasty, hair in the “bikini area” is suboptimal and that having hair anywhere except on your scalp, eyebrows and eyelashes is not desirable.  They’ve succeeded in convincing men that nose and ear hair is yucky (finally!), that smooth shaven is best, that beard stubble is OK but you need to buy a special razor to “groom” it, and a hairy back and chest is suboptimal.  Now they’re targeted the “bikini area.”  Somebody must have gotten a huge bonus for coming up with this product name.

*Those whose job it is to invent “needs” in order to sell you products to satisfy them have already convinced women to spend a lot of money on products they didn’t know they needed to ensure that they are as bald as escapees from an Ottoman harem, and now the concept of the metrosexual has been foisted off on men in order to mine a new treasure trove of untapped dollars by convincing men to spend money on products that they didn’t know they needed — and, brilliantly, these are essentially the same products they sell to women, only rebranded and marketed specifically to convince men that using them will get them laid.  

There’s something basically sick about a trillion-dollar industry predicated on making you insecure enough that you will believe there is something wrong with the way you look, but that you can fix it by spending a lot of money buying their products.

O, tempora! O, mores! O, nuts!


* The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series of books by Douglas Adams.  If you like Terry Pratchett, you’ll love Douglas Adams.