Friday, January 20, 2017

Well, It Finally Happened!

               I finally lost a friend over the election. The first that I know of. The first to tell me I'm dead to him. In person and not on social media. And I can't even blame him--it was I who lost my temper and said things that shouldn't be said. (You know how emotional we females can get--I blame it all on menopause and drinking too many Diet Pepsis .)

               And I'm the one who said I would respect each person's individual vote. After all, we all have our own issues, prejudices, and hot buttons. And they drive our votes. As for me, I'm a card-carrying bleeding-heart liberal. I don't mind paying more taxes so others can get the services they need, even if they don't always deserve them. I'll fight to the death to have a competent Secretary of Education of our public schools so the children of the trump voters can have a better education.

               But it's tough. My friend called me a poor sport. Like I just lost at marbles. Actually, where important things like the Washington Redskins are concerned, I admit I'm a pretty poor sport.  But, with lots of practice, over the years I've honed my ability to pretend I'm okay with the Dallas Cowboys claiming they are "America's Team" while the Redskins stay home again from the Big Game.

               But I digress. I tried to explain that, more important than being a good sport, I have real concerns about the competence and experience of trump and his cabinet members.  He waved that off as having less importance than that the Republican party had vanquished Hillary and Obama. Oh, good. The black guy and the woman are gone.

               He's also a bottom-line guy who hates the idea that a business, like the one we work for, would be forced to pay for employees to have basic healthcare due to the Affordable Care Act. Or the idea that the federal government would force its opinion or any type of regimen on anyone. God knows we wouldn't want anyone telling us we had to be a Christian or a heterosexual or eschew birth control or guard ourselves from grizzlies in our public schools.

               But I'm pleading temporary insanity. When he told me that (a) there is no evidence that Congress wants to repeal healthcare coverage for under-26's or for those with preexisting conditions and (b) there is no evidence that Russia was involved in the recent debacle, I felt my precarious hold on mental health starting to fail.  I asked where he was getting his news. When he told me "that's Hillary stuff," I heard a snapping sound from inside my head. Something vital had broken loose.

               When our coworker, sitting with us, naively asked what Congress intended to replace the ACA with, since obviously so many people needed it, he told her not to worry about it, that Congress would handle it. At this point, I flew over the edge of the cuckoo's nest.

               This was not going to work. I had gone into a gunfight armed with a spitball. And it didn't end well. The top of my head blew off and blood and brains spewed out. Metaphorically speaking. When he told me I was dead to him, I think I remember telling him to send it to me in a 140-character Tweet so I'd know it was official.

               The important thing here is that it was my fault. I didn't set out to lose a friend I've worked with for 15 years. I had no intention of making an enemy out of a coworker that I work with daily.  And friends, long-time or new, are nothing to scoff at. I value my friends. I take full blame for what happened.

               But the more I think about it, we really weren't friends. We were coworkers who disagreed violently but politely on most aspects of daily life and culture. We were generally cordial as long as we stuck to topics with no possible religious or political significance. Pictures of cute puppies and grumpy kittycats were possible but only if none of the puppies was sitting too close to another puppy of the same sex.

               My friends and I don't always agree on everything but we agree on the important things--the value of other people, the importance of the environment, the need to be able to trust those to whom we've entrusted the leadership of our country. So I guess he and I weren't really friends. Just work acquaintances.  And I guess that's over.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

I'm Back--and it took This Guy to get me back

To my conservative friend(s):

               Someone commented to me the other day that I seem to be "really bothered" by This Guy. And I answered that I was "worried," not bothered. That wasn't the truth.

               I'm not "bothered" by him. He is who he is. He has changed his public persona over the years, has claimed a multitude of beliefs and positions, and has been a chameleon depending on who he needed to be, who he was with, what he thought someone wanted to hear. Like the old joke about the snake, we knew he was a snake when we picked him up. The fact is, it's not his fault that he's in a job that he's uniquely unqualified for. It's the fault of the American voters.

               I'm not even bothered by the so-called deplorables (what a crappy word to call someone!), those voters who are uneducated or poorly educated, underemployed or unemployed, who have no hope for their present or future, who are racists or misogynists, or who are still fighting in bars rather than engaging in debates. Nope, I'm bothered by voters like you.

               I know you to be honorable. You're a good person, a patriot, a loyal employee, a loving husband and father. You are someone I've spent hours with, debating  history, football, and politics, always with the underlying idea that, although we fundamentally disagree on many aspects of today's culture, we share basic positions that we both hold dear: love of country, love of family, love of work, respect for the foundations of our country and those who seek to keep us safe, a complex spiritual life, and concern for those among us who have less than we do, either materially, emotionally, or health-wise.

               I'm bothered that you have endorsed This Guy with your vote. We've all met people like him. He's the boss who pinched my butt and tried to touch my breasts in the office (when I was 17 and in my first job), waving a soggy cigar when I pulled away. He's the guy who brags about how much he does for others but you have to dun for the entry fee for the charity golf tournament. He's the guy who stiffs the waitstaff because of some imaginary slight in the service. The guy who sneers behind your back that your (first) wife isn't as hot as his (third or fourth) wife, that your kid went into the military instead of a fancy university because the military is for "losers," that he's too smart to pay taxes when you just made your quarterly payment, that he's too smart to believe in God when you're seeking prayers for your sick child. He's the guy you don't let hold your toddler daughter. Ever. The business owner who overlooks your years of service to give the job you've earned to his nephew who has no experience. The guy who makes rude jokes at others' expense and doesn't understand why his peers aren't laughing.

               So, tell me. Would you hire This Guy? Would you ask him to join you and your wife for dinner? Have a drink with him in the bar? Introduce him to your daughter? Play poker with him? Ask him to mentor your son? Nominate him for an office in your professional organization? Suggest him to lead an important fundraising drive? Ask him to babysit your precious grandchild or dog for a weekend, a day, an hour?

               If the answers are no, he's not fit to be the leader of one of the leaders of the free world. We need a leader with experience, a willingness to learn the complexities of the world we live in, and an ability to work with others. (Harry Truman did it with little or no experience in national politics, but he was a selfless guy with a deep love of his country and a willingness to listen to a bi-partisan group of advisors.) Someone who will be honest with the American people (we all know those coal-country jobs aren't coming back--they don't exist any more and the jobs that do exist require a different set of educational and experiential qualifications--we need to be concentrating on education, not standing around waiting for a miracle). Someone who engenders respect, and maybe trust, from our allies and enemies alike.  Someone who can't be bought or influenced. Someone who puts the country's needs ahead of his own. This Guy isn't it. I'm not certain the other candidate was the best the Democrats could have come up with either, but at least I'm not worried she would get us blown up by North Korea because of an ego trip.

               Finally, my friend said, "hey, we've survived worse than this." Really? Is that now the qualification for president, that he's not the worst? Seriously?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pax? Really?

Who the heck names a snow event Pax? Note that I'm loathe to call Pax a "snowstorm" since even in the hinterlands of Chez Pug 3-4" over three days isn't exactly a blizzard. Yet, here I am, trapped at home waiting for the streets to be clear enough to go to work. Ice, you see, and even with our fine governator's admittedly better efforts, the highways are still largely impassable.

Also note that the Pax namers, The Weather Channel, also called the last snow/ice event, the one I call Clusterstuck, Leon. I don't know which one is dumber, Pax or Leon.

Oh, well, what do you do when you're at home and shamelessly avoiding all the productive things you could do, like housework? You knit and read and watch movies on Amazon Prime. Sometimes all at once. And in between you go on Facebook to see how your friends and relatives are managing their own personal and weather crises.

And, of course, you surf Ravelry. And you find a new Total Time Suck, Goodreads.

In between, you log into work and actually complete some items on the "to do" list, but don't tell the bosses. They prefer to think you're squandering valuable work opportunities and who are we to disabuse them of this fantasy?

Once in awhile, you even complete something. So, in knitting, one project off the needles: Cameo.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

What's On The Needles?

Anyone who know me knows that I am incapable of knitting on one project at a time.

I always have several things going at once, probably accounting for the fact that it takes me forever to complete a project. This really makes sense if you think about it.

My knitting projects are specifically for certain places and situations:

First, I always have a relatively complex project, lace or something that requires close attention to a chart or something filled with seemingly (but not really) random short rows. This is for times that I'm not too tired, completely alone, and have both patience and no other distractions.

Then there's the project that is large and/or just complicated enough that I have to think about it. Maybe a sweater with complex shaping or stitch patterns or cables or some such. Or it has too many balls of yarn hanging off it.

Finally, there's mindless knitting. The shawl above, Cameo by Paulina Popiolek. It's miles of garter stitch in two yarns from my stash, some Miss Babs sock yarn in Frogbelly and some turquoise Araucania fingering. Ellen made this shawl (with a lot more imagination, I might say) and I knew I had to make it. It would be my sitting in the snow that some people in Atlanta are currently calling "Clusterstuck," or watching TV with a dog or two on my lap.

Socks, of course, fall into this category, in the subcategory Purse Knitting. I usually have a sock in my purse for line waiting and always at least one in the car for red lights.

but that's for another day.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Wow...a Year?

If asked, and I have been but chose to ignore the questions, I'd have estimated my last post here was a few months ago, October maybe. A year is sort of shocking. But that's about the time a wheel or two fell off the bus here at Chez Pug--personally and definitely technologically. Basically it's been a tough year but no tougher than anyone else's, so no excuses.

I hope the technology is a little more under control, and the rest of it is what it will be. Anyway, here I am again. 

So, Snow-mageddon 2014. What we would have called in the north "a light dusting" has thus far closed down Atlanta for two and a half days. Before I moved here in 2001 I might have chuckled. Now I know this crap is no joke! This city really isn't prepared for any weather at all. Interesting in a city whose news weather branch is called "Severe Weather Center." Seriously, most of us wake up to Channel 2's intrepid weather woman, Karen Minton, saying, "Here in Atlanta the weather is beautiful, 75 degrees and clear. Stay tuned to Severe Weather Center for updates." Really?

Love ya, Karen, but seriously? But that jacket you were wearing this morning? Killer! And that's apparently all that matters, because the governor and mayor don't listen to you anyway. Just a pretty blonde woman with great clothes.

Anyway, this week "weather" was predicted. "Winter weather," to be exact. All the local and national outlets said it was coming and Severe Weather Center said it was coming at 1 pm. About noon flakes started to fall, delicately and without malice at all. Beautiful. No problem. At work we'd planned for such an eventuality and we were as ready as we could be. Some of my co-workers went home. Others, like myself, gave them time to get off the roads and then left later. 5 pm in my case. Snow count? About an inch or less.

Hours later I was sitting about three miles from the office (only 39 to go!) and I checked my traffic app. Yes, I have a traffic app, put out by the same Severe Weather Center TV station. It's a fabulous app--a lovely graphic map with little camera icons that show you where all the traffic cameras are along the route home, and a glowing blue bubble that represented where my car was at the moment (are you kidding me??) and little accident icons that showed trouble spots. The route is also color-coded--green for "no problem," yellow for "whoa, slow down a little, honey, there's something up ahead," and red for "go back, don't even think about it."

Red everywhere. Shit!

This picture was taken when we still thought it was an anomaly that would be cleared up soon. At this point, I still thought I might get home that night. Not so much.

By midnight the traffic was almost completely stopped. Oh, every so often we moved ahead by a car length. I think that was just the Goddesses teasing us. That movement made me think we were making progress. But every time Mr. Pug called, getting increasingly frantic and angry--not at me, but at Georgia's Governator and the Mayor of Atlanta for not having salted and cindered the roads in a timely fashion--I checked my odometer, and my progress could be measured in tenths of a mile. About 3 am, I pulled over to the side of the road, along with 10 or 15% of my fellow travelers, and tried to sleep. 

Lesson Learned: It's almost impossible to sleep with other cars slipping on the icy roads and skimming past your vehicle space with spinning tires and blowing horns. Okay, that was not going to work.

By 4 am I had extracted myself from my shoulder spot and inched far enough forward to see an upcoming exit where I knew there was a fast food joint. I tried to exit but it was completely clogged with broken down cars. Damn! The next exit was a little more passable and I slunk past the abandoned cars on the ramp and into a McDonald's. Good thing because my bladder was about to burst! (I cannot tell you how many men and women I saw standing and squatting by the side of I-75, relieving themselves. I swear if I hadn't been wearing jeans, it might have been an option. I also saw the guys in the car in front of me pour what was left from a carton of orange juice out onto the pavement. Then I saw it re-emptied again a minute or two later. Well, you gotta do what you gotta do.)

Lesson Learned: Just because the sign says "Open 24 Hours" doesn't mean it is. Everything, including the shopping center across the street, assuming I could have gotten across the street,  was completely clogged with cars. I wedged mine into an illegal spot in the McDonald's lot, locked the door, crossed my legs tightly, and tried to sleep. First I woke Mr. Pug one last time to tell him I was safe and hear more diatribes against Governor Dumbass. Around 6, I fell asleep. At 6:30, the parking lot around me began to wake up.

So, to make a hideously long story even longer, I finally strolled into Chez Pug at 2:30 pm the day after I left the office. And here's what I got from the experience:

  1. Thank Dog for knitting. I knit off and on the whole time.
  2. Thank Dog twice for mindless knitting projects. Mine had lots of yarn and garter stitch. Doesn't get any more mindless than that. (Cameo Shawl if you're interested.)
  3. The snow around the parked cars in the McD's lot was splotched with lots of yellow. Good thing I slept through all of it.
  4. My night was pretty tame compared to others. My friend Sandy's car ran off the road and she was (luckily) rescued by a friend of her sister's. Otherwise her story could have been much uglier.
  5. When the 24 hour McDonald's opens, at 7:30 am, the only person there will be the manager who mostly doesn't speak English. He does know how to make coffee and is happy to sell it for a dollar a cup. plus tax for the governor.
  6. The bathroom will be mostly clean but at that point, who really cares?
  7. No other food will be available until a worker shows up an hour later and finally grasps that what the manager is saying is "sausage, please cook the sausage."
  8. Apparently when they hired him for his facility with languages, they didn't take into account the fact that someone who speaks Croatian fluently may not be able to communicate with a largely Hispanic staff or customers.
  9. But Croatians can apparently make great coffee.
  10. Oatmeal doesn't require food, just hot water. I set off a trend by mentioning that to the manager and he fixed me a cup.
  11. Hundreds of people who slept in their cars all along the block will be happy to pay a dollar a cup. Most will be friendly and just happy not to be on I-75.
  12. The road will still not be clear when you're ready to go home, which is right after drinking your coffee and eating your oatmeal.
  13. Which is fine because the guy who's got you blocked in with his car isn't in a hurry to leave anyway.
  14. When you get out, around 10 am (more knitting with some news and audiobook listening thrown in), traffic won't be able to get up the hill. It will be full of more 18-wheelers as if we haven't seen enough in the last 12 hours.
  15. All the gas stations will be simultaneously raising their prices and running out of gas.
  16. The parking lot across the street will have one tiny space left, just big enough for your car. The guy in the car next to you will get out of his car to greet you, saying "Welcome! You must be our new neighbor!"
  17. He'll fill you in on the neighborhood gossip: the 24 hour cafe is closed (of course!), the Publix is open but filled with people sheltering in place (big shoutout to Publix!), the Starbucks is open but their restroom is suspiciously "out of order." And I  bet their coffee was more than a dollar.
  18. Apparently the big convention in town this week is the National Egg and Poultry show. (Not a joke! You cannot make this stuff up!) This explains the large truck parked about three cars away with hundreds of empty chicken boxes in the back. I don't want to know what happened to the chickens.
  19. People are mostly very decent. I did not meet one person who wasn't gracious and friendly and we all chuckled about how we'll be telling these stories for years. No one called the Governator Dumbass, with the possible exception of me.
  20. We were about a mile from the Governator's mansion. I'm betting there was no one sheltering in place in his house that night. Again, thanks to all the businesses who let folks hang out for the night.
Postscript: When I finally got to my subdivision, there were cars parked all along the entrance. There were also several people shoveling the street. I stopped to thank them and realized their leader was Mr. Pug. One of the young guys told me that Mr. Pug told them his wife was on her way home and he wanted her to be able to get up and down the hills in the subdivision. They all jumped in to help.

Lesson learned: Gotta love people! They're pretty okay. And Mr. Pug's no slouch either.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Finally -- a Finished Object!

Actually, two finished objects. Here's the first pair, Seaweed Socks from a pattern by Wendy Johnson.  This pair came off the needles last Friday, after a mere two years in the making. (One of my lovely friends gave me this yarn on the occasion of my wedding--only a true friend would know to give sock yarn as a wedding gift!)

Love this sock even though I'm a little iffy about the heel. Actually, it's probably the gusset and heel you've been knitting ever since you learned how to knit socks--it's that slip one, knit one that makes a padded back-of-the-heel. This sock is knit toe up but it's done in much the same way, after you knit a sort of Fleegle-ish gusset increase on the bottom of the sock.

The reason I stopped doing this heel is that most of my shoes don't want a big, padded heel in the back--it makes them uncomfortable. I took a chance on this one because I love, love, love everything Wendy Johnson does and I trust her.

This pair of Opal socks, finished just this morning, are my old familiar, Ann Budd-ish socks with a short row heel (also toe up, of course). There's nothing better than Opal, ever, and if I had another skein of Opal at hand, I'd cast on today. Just the best all-around sock yarn ever!

Oh, who am I kidding? There's got to be more Opal in the stash somewhere--I just have to dig around and find it!

Finally, here's a hint of What's On The Needles: I started these on Saturday after finishing the Regia socks. It's a toe-up pattern called Socks on a Plane, with one cable going up the side of each foot. The yarn is Mini Mochi from my stash. Fabulous colors, and I do love my MM socks. The original MM yarn was more splitty and more fragile (it's a single) but the newly formulated yarn is more durable.

And, of course, it's got a weird heel variation, too--somewhere in between the Fleegle heel and a short row heel. I don't like it at all but I'm trying to give it a chance.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Knitting Forward

So, I've been knitting since I was in elementary school, blogging since about 2004, and on Ravelry since 2007. That means I should know better, because my track record of being able to predict what I'll actually knit in a given year isn't that great. I get distracted easily.

But every year I prognosticate about the coming year so it's in the nature of a tradition at this point.

So let's make it easier this year:

  • I will start the year promising to finish a bunch of UFO's but will end the year with more than I started with.
  • I'll have really good intentions about organizing my stash but will end the year in the same state of chaos that exists right now. Maybe worse.
  • Ditto my intentions to knit strictly from stash. Let's face it--I'm like a crow with yarn. If it's pretty, I'll dive on it from a mile in the sky to grab it. 
  • Six months after I dive on something pretty, I'll look at it in wonderment and try to remember what I thought I was going to do with it.
  • I'd like to make Christmas gifts and ornaments all year but... Well, do I even need to say I probably won't?
  • We're not even going to talk about my abysmal record of updating this puppy. Doesn't seem that likely, does it?
On a positive note, I'm trying really hard to finish Fifty Shades of Red within the next two weeks. I'm down to four half blocks, then need to connect the shoulders, and then knit several miles of I-cord. Sounds do-able, right?

After that, I'll either get back to Smitten (yuk!) or do the crab stitch edging on the patchwork jacket. 

I'd like to knit Canyonlands as a Rav KAL. Dream in Color Smooshy.

I'd like to do a Goddess Knits shawl as a KAL.

I'd like to knit one of the sweaters I have yarn set aside for--Three Sisters or Carter Cardigan or Simona. 

Is that too much planning? Or not enough?