Friday, August 31, 2007

Emotional Roller Coaster

Well, it's no wonder I haven't posted in ten days...I'm a blithering idiot right now. It's been a busy, emotional, sad, happy, frustrating, successful ten days. Let's take it in order. And by the way, no photos today--the camera has been replaced but now the USB drive I use to port photos is missing--see what I mean about this past couple of weeks?


My friend Ruth passed away on August 17. Ruth was one of my oldest friends, in terms of relationship length, not age. Ruth was 57 when she died, still tiny, cute, redheaded, and feisty. I met her in early 1986 and over time, she became a very strong influence in my life. I knew she had cancer but believed she would beat it--unfortunately, it beat her. Her husband Richard called me the following Tuesday to say that the service, in Virginia, was the following day, Wednesday. Because of work challenges at The Big Corporation (more later), I couldn't jump on a plane, which was my first inclination. But the reality is, Ruth is gone. It wouldn't have made any difference to her at that point--the only person who would have felt better was me.

Ruth was always there for me and with me, no matter where "there" was. She walked me through a separation, divorce, relationship ups and downs, kid crap, changing careers, selling my house and leaving Virginia, relocating to Georgia. I walked her through love affairs, deaths and adoptions of her beloved dogs, remarriage, giving up her dream business and changing careers, taking on stepchildren and learning to be a parent at 40-something. We held each other up and cheered each other on. We even loved the same mystery writers (Elizabeth George, James Lee Burke!). I will never forget her. I sent some thoughts to Richard that night and he later told me he had read part of my letter at the service. Here's the part he read:

Life Lessons From Ruth:
(1) Husbands come and husbands go … none of them are worth drinking over. (With apologies to Richard, Bill, Malcolm, Ken, and all the others, hers and mine, too numerous to name.)
(2) You just can’t have enough dogs.
(3) The right house always has two separate master bathrooms.
(4) If you’re little and cute and redheaded, you can say something mean about someone and they’ll forgive you. If you’re not, you may have to run for your life.
(5) Integrity is key.
(6) Sometimes you just have to live through crappy situations.
(7) Grammar counts. People who don’t use proper grammar really ARE scum-sucking trailer trash.
(8) Most people don’t want to hear your whining, but a true friend will always listen politely (at least for awhile).


My baby sister was in Norfolk last week, visiting her son and daughter-in-law. Of course, I planned to go there to see her. I wasn't about to miss being with her on one of her rare trips east, and I planned to drive to Charlotte on Thursday (the day after the funeral I couldn't attend), then drive to Norfolk with my daughter Kelly for a day or so. My other sister and her daughter were going to be there, too. Stop me if this is repetitive, but I couldn't get leave approved to go because of those same issues at The Big Corporation. Anyway, I'm flexible, I swear I am, I really am, so I drove up there Friday night after work.

The trip was miserable, at least the driving part. It rained torrentially. I knew I couldn't drive 9 hours that night so I had planned to get about half way and stop at a motel, but I only got about 200 miles before I had to stop. Got up the next morning, drove through more rain, got a speeding ticket, got lost, and finally got there about 4 hours after I wanted to.

But I had almost 24 hours with my sister. I love my sisters, and this time was really precious to me. I left there in tears. So, mixed blessing. Two of Deirdre's friends were there at the same time (my sister, my niece, and my daughter and grandchildren had left before I got there) and I hadn't seen them in years. It was a wonderful opportunity to get to know them again, to spend time with Deirdre and to see Andrew and Sarah's house. (And, of course, to play with their pugs, Rudy and Sugarplum. They are step-siblings of my Lightning and Bluto, so it was family time.) We even went yarn shopping in Virginia Beach. Deirdre picked out yarn for felted clogs for Andrew and Sarah, with Andrew's help. I came home with some beautiful chocolate brown Regia sock yarn, because I don't have enough sock yarn.

Anyway, back on the road, weeping. Rain, more rain, rain. The 9 hour trip took around 12 and I got home around 1 am on Monday. Of course, I had to be back in the office on Monday because of crap at The Big Corporation. But at least I reasoned, I was home safe, and what more could happen that would be worse than that drive?

The Big Corporation - Part A

Laid off, 10 am Monday. I suppose I should feel honored that the CFO himself took the time to lay me off, that I didn't have to wait for the axe with my fellow employees, but that seems rather weak to me. After all, he needed me to have my head together for the following day when the other 899 employees who were being let go would be told. My boss was also laid off. Our last day will be December 21, after we've helped to clean up after all the other layoffs and site closings. Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

The Big Corporation - Part B

Tuesday was another hell day. I felt like I was living in the movie "Groundhog Day." You know the one where Bill Murray has to relive the same day over and over and over? Well, since my position is security-related, I had to sit through as many of the "break the news" sessions as I could--the others were monitored by my team. So I sat there 5 or 6 times over the course of 6 hours, watching an executive and an HR person tell the same story to yet another group of shell-shocked employees. There was little anger displayed at that point, except in a couple of isolated cases. In the last day or so, that anger has blossomed and bloomed, and I hope we can get through the next few months with no incidents.

TBC gave a generous severance package, and notice ranging from 2 weeks to 4 months prior to last day worked. Ironically, my former manager at The Small Corporation, which was swallowed up by The Big Corporation in 2001, was the person who initiated the package they're still using and it demonstrates her empathy for the impacted employees. So, it's not about money, as much as it is about sadness for what our company has become, and seems likely to become in the future. If it has a future. If my bleak predictions for TBC are correct, I'll be much better off separated from the company, but it's still sad. And I'm definitely nervous about looking for a job at my, er, advanced age.

Positive News

So, I took today off from work, because, after all, what's the worst they can do? Fire me? Nah. And I've got leave. I stayed home and finished MS3. It's finally complete and, unblocked, looks like what Claudia would call Boiled A*&. Maybe it will look better when it's blocked. I mean it's beautiful but it doesn't have much structure in its current state. I'm SO glad I lengthened it--I think it would be WAY short on me otherwise. In any case, I'm VERY proud of it--just proud of completing it, and if I never wear it, it will make a great wall hanging.

And Much More Positive News

Deirdre called me last night to say I'm going to be a Great Aunt. Andrew and Sarah are pregnant. I guess they suspected it when we were there, but they wanted to be sure before they told us. (Well, me...they told Deirdre before she left.) She is over the moon and I'm very excited for them all.

Good news: I'll have time this spring to knit for them. No more excuses about not having time because of work. No one will be telling me I can't drive to Norfolk to see my new niece or nephew. The silver lining.

And you know what Ruth would say: "Jobs come and jobs go -- none of them are worth drinking over."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


This should be the post where I smugly post about the terrific progress I'm making on MS3. And I was, really I was.

I had a goal to complete Clue 6 by the end of the weekend. And, boy howdy, it was just moving briskly along...row after row of perfection. Began Clue 7 last night...late, of course, by the lights of some of the MS3 experts (this incredible knitter, for instance), but still well ahead of the Slow-Bees.

Now, here I should say, that I have learned that MS3 is NOT a project that can bear any distraction at all. It takes all of the power of my 14 remaining brain cells to work on this project and all 14 better be fully concentrating. So, what in the world could distract me, so close to the finish line?

Can you say RAVELRY? Say it again, RAV-EL-RY. Accent on the RAV. It might as well be called DISTRACTION, accent on the TRAC because it got me seriously off-TRAC.

Oh, I've had fun with it, rather the way an elicit lover is fun. Those cozy dinners tucked away with your new love, while the old one stays at home mopping the floor, those clandestine meetings in the No-Tell Motel, those sweet forbidden kisses in the shadows ... not that I would know anything about those things, of course.

Ravelry is one of those lovers who pulls you away from your responsible, boring life of knitting row after row of swan feathers and says, "come on ... you know you want to do it ... just enter two more of your projects ... what about that lace yarn, you know you want to take a picture of it ... there are messages to read, groups to join, shops to add to the database ... come on, your knitting will never even notice you're gone."

So, I've been knitting a pattern row, then entering, photographing, responding, etc., then purling back, then documenting, digging yarns out of hidden baskets, knitting a pattern row. Uh, counting stitches? Uh, no. And not reading my knitting either. Nope, not me, but I've sure been Raveling up a storm!

And, all the while, checking out other Ravelers' projects and stashes and planning my next project(s) because (a) I have all that yarn (!!!!) and (b) I'm so darned good that I'm clearly ready to move on to the next thing. Herbert Niebling, here I come!

And you know where I'm going with this, right? We've been found out, caught! Last night I found a glitch* about 12 rows back. Yes, back somewhere at the end of Clue 6. So did I have a lifeline? Nah, I've been too good for those things for quite awhile, since Clue 4, probably ... no lifeline. So I'm tinking. And tinking.

Ravelry ... I love you, but I'm going back to my spouse for a few days, just to pull things together a bit. Tink our relationship and see if I can get it back on TRAC.

*The cardiologist in the Charlotte hospital who recently examined my EKG proclaimed that I have a "blip." "Blip?" I said. "What does that mean?" His reply: "Well, er, hard to say ... it's a blip, an irregularity, maybe it's a big deal, maybe not. No worries!" I guess a "glitch" is the same sort of thing ... maybe a big deal, maybe not. When you're tearing out multiple rows, it feels like a big deal.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I'm In!

I am a Ravelry member.

This could be the greatest timewaster ever... or it might turn out to be a huge boon to civilization. Right now, it just makes clear how unready I am for this.

Why haven't I spent the last two months photographing my yarn and my projects? Why am I trying to do it all today?

This cannot be good--I need to be writing my resume.

52...can you say, 52?

Found you!
You signed up on June 14, 2007
You are #9168 on the list.
52 people are ahead of you in line.
17023 people are behind you in line.
34% of the list has been invited so far

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Clue 5 Complete!

Wow, I'm only one clue behind, or I will be tomorrow morning when Clue 7 comes out. That may seem like a long way behind (50 rows or so), but today it feels like a major victory over the Dark Lord to be so close, especially after those 11 inches of cats paws.

I can see where this is going, I think, and I'm fascinated. Clue 6 takes us to the edge of the 21 stitch side border and we'll have about 150 stitches on the needle. I'm guessing we'll be doing a border along the wing, picking up 1 stitch on every other row (or would we have to pick up 2?) Hmmm....that's why Melanie's the designer and I'm the knitter, I guess.

I'm still wavering on the question of the wing, but I'm so in awe of Melanie's skills at designing this pattern at all, and I'm so excited to be so much farther ahead with my lace knitting skills as a result of knitting this pattern, that none of that matters. I have a huge collection of patterns and (since this KAL) a growing supply of lace yarn. Now I feel I might actually be competent to knit some of those patterns.

It's funny how I never even knew how incompetent I was. I knew I was inexperienced and I knew I wasn't comfortable with the chart reading and I'd never attempted such a big project. But I didn't realize what a complete ninny I was until I started MS3. I'm so grateful to have had the group to work alongside on this project. It's always nice to have someone else ask the really dumb (you think) question that you're too embarrassed to ask!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ravelry Update .... Can't Wait!

Found you!
You signed up on June 14, 2007
You are #9168 on the list.
422 people are ahead of you in line.
16256 people are behind you in line.
34% of the list has been invited so far

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Wildlife Update and MS3

I can't believe it's been 10 days since I posted, but I can only say in my defense that it's been a very busy 10 days, and not a little stressful.

First, positive wildlife news. There's a new pug on the block, at least temporarily. Buddy, a pug/Boston terrier mix who belongs to a friend of mine from work, has been staying with us while said friend gets settled into a new home. Buddy is gangly and excitable and I wasn't sure how this would work out, but we've come to love him in only a couple of weeks, and now we can't believe Tony will be taking Buddy back on Saturday. Wonder how difficult a custody fight over a dog would be....hmmmm.

And, some sad news. Remember Knit? of Knit and Purl? For about three days we had two Koi in our pond. Then Knit, the beautiful orange Koi I showed a picture of a few weeks ago, died. We were devastated. Our first fish...and one of them was dead. It hardly seemed fair. Then Purl ... well, she completely disappeared. I mean, Gone! She is simply not there. I have no idea how that could happen, but we've had to come to terms with the fact that our pond has killed off two fish. Amazingly, we've also somehow gained a frog. Again, I have no idea where he came from...he just appeared one day, sitting on a lily pad like he'd been there all along. (Who knew that frogs really do sit on lily pads? Not me!)

Two things about the frog. First, I'm not naming him. I'm a little superstitious that I named Knit and Purl and three days later they were dead. Coincidence? Maybe...but the frog will be Anonymous. And he's not hanging around to have his photo taken either. Every time I get close to him, he disappears into the mass of plants.

And, speaking of plants, we're up to our antlers in plant life, to keep up the animal metaphor. Pretty soon, this stuff will be climbing out of the pond and taking over the back yard.

Finally, speaking of the back yard, Mr. Pug has made a valiant start at building our screened porch. Today the decking went into place, which has made the pug family very happy. It was a little hairy stepping in and around those boards for a couple of days.

MS3 Update

After a few days at the beach, followed by another trip to Charlotte for Emma's 6th birthday (yes, these are busy birthday times in the Pug family), I'm finally back to MS3. It took forever to add the extra 11 inches of length and now, of course, I'm wondering why I bothered. Because it's ... surprise, surprise ... REALLY long. (If you look closely at the photo, you'll see two pinkish stitch markers at the bottom. They mark the beginning and the end of the extra 11 inches.) Maybe too long. But now I'm not taking any of it out. Not a stitch.

And the theme has been unveiled--Swan Lake. Well, that explains why Melanie recommended black or white. Odette or Odile. Needless to say, the Pug stole looks like a swan caught in an environmental hazard area, all oil slicked up.

I'm not quite sure about the wing. Yes, it's a wing. So, definitely an asymmetrical stole, and I'm knitting it according to the design. And I think I like it ... I'm almost sure ... mostly. But I signed up for this stole, not for a stole designed by the knitters, so I'm persevering. I'll let you know how it all works out.

Finally, there's a little stress at The Big Corporation where I work. There's something coming, and I don't think it's good, at least not for me. Maybe I'm overreacting, but it doesn't feel good at all. More later.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

In which we speak of cabbages and kings...

...and a variety of things.

First, A News Flash! (but with no photo...I'm sorry, my camera is among the missing). I think I mentioned before that Main Street Yarns in Watkinsville, GA has been running a Six Weeks of Socks contest to benefit Annie Modesitt and her family with some of the unexpected costs related to her husband Gerry's illness. Well, I won last week--amazingly. I never win anything! The prize was a gorgeous skein of Trekking Pro Natura in my colors (how did they know?)--blues and greens--and a 40" Addi Turbo needle (size 1, perfect for magic looping socks). Main Street's owner, the lovely and generous Ruth, also sent me a copy of Annie's book "The Knitting Heretic." (Again, how did she know I hadn't read it?) Thank you, Ruth, and all the very generous folks at Main Street--I salute your compassion and lovely spirits.

There are two more weeks of the Six Weeks of Socks, with the charitable effort moving to another store in New Jersey after that. Better hurry!

Next, MS3.
Question: How is MS3 like Harry Potter?
Answer: Muggles are involved and they keep behaving in such Mugglish ways. Predictable but, oh my! Here's what I mean. Let's take HP.

What the Muggles Say: No Spoilers! We love the stories and we want to find out on our own what happens.

What They Mean: OMG! What's going to happen? Is Snape good or bad? Is Dumbledore coming back? Is Harry going to die? OMG!

What They Say: We love JK Rowling and we respect her as a great writer and we're just happy to have been able to be a part of this incredible phenomenon.

What They Mean: OMG! She killed off [fill in the blanks]? I didn't want him/her/it killed off! Who does she think she is?

What They Say: I've got to know what happens next! I'll just die if I don't know what happens next!

What They Mean: OMG! I hate the epilogue! Who does she think she is?

Bottom line: Muggles are never satisfied. They want to read the books AND write them.

So, how does this relate to MS3?

What the Muggles Say: The fun thing about a mystery knitalong is that ... it's a mystery! We don't know what Melanie has in mind for us and we're having fun knitting something that is a ... well, let's face it, a mystery.

What They Mean: OMG! I don't know what's happening! I don't trust her...maybe she's going to have us steek it along that dumb lifeline that she asked us to put in. I hate short rows/double decreases/wings. Who does she think she is?

What They Say: Now that I'm almost halfway through this thing, I just can't face the thought of knitting the other end. I really hope I don't have to turn around and knit the same thing but going backwards.

What They Mean: OMG! This thing is asymmetrical! We don't knit it exactly the same way as we did it before--we have to do something new! That we weren't expecting! OMG! Who does she think she is?

What I Say: It's a mystery, folks. And Melanie is a designer...that means she's going to design something unique that we wouldn't or couldn't design ourselves and we're going to learn something new and challenge ourselves. Get a grip, put on your big girl panties, and just knit the darned thing...or put a sock in it and stop knitting this thing that isn't going the way you wanted, and quit yer whining.

Rant over...back to our regularly scheduled program.

Next, Ravelry update. Well, two people that I know are now on Ravelry, and I'm struggling with extreme jealousy. Not that I need one more distraction from life, mind you. I got involved with some professional networking sites (LinkedIn and Pownce) last week and, given that I think I could need a new job in the near future, this is a good thing, but what a Time Eater. And Ravelry looks like the same deal...hours spent inventorying and detailing and listing and networking with other knitters....well, you get the point. Is Ravelry good for me or will it ensure that I just sit like a hermit in my home office, entering things into Ravelry?


Found you!
You signed up on June 14, 2007
You are #9168 on the list.
1444 people are ahead of you in line.
13520 people are behind you in line.
33% of the list has been invited so far

(Don't get me started on how it's ALWAYS 33% of the folks that have been invited--no matter what the other numbers are....I'm just trying to be non-Mugglish and trust in the process.)

Which brings me to my final comment. This whole community of knitters is killing my "knitting as hermit" personna. For years I've been a solitary knitter, happily ensconced in my little world and knitting by myself, feeling a little lonesome but really not wanting to make the effort to change things. Now, knitting as part of a community has become my life. Here in Atlanta, there's a group to knit with EVERY day. Monday, it's the Square Knitters. Tuesday, Starbucks in West Cobb. Wednesday, take your choice: Barnes & Noble or Needlenook. Thursday, it's Knitch or Chocolate. Friday, back to Knitch. Saturday and Sunday, well, those are the days you get together with friends to shop hop or knit at someone's home.

So, you'd think I'd be getting a lot of knitting done. Well, uh, no. First off, I can't knit MS3 in a crowd. I can barely knit it locked in my office with no interruptions. So I carry my omnipresent car knitting with me, a multidirectional scarf, which grows imperceptibly as I schmooze and touch other people's yarn and check out their knitting and gossip about what's going on in the knitting world or knit on The Big Sock (more later on that).

Then I drive home, exhausted, and sit up late into the night knitting on MS3, trying to get to the next clue. (I'm lengthening so I'm still on Clue 4.) And the next day, I go knit somewhere else with friends. The days of the hermit are gone.

Finally, the Big Sock. Debra is schlepping the Big Sock around with her. It's a project from UK by some folks trying to knit the biggest sock ever, and it's here in Atlanta for 3 or 4 weeks. It's got 1500 stitches in a round and 11 people knit on each row simultaneously. Photos if I ever find my camera.