Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Month? How Can That Be?

How is it possible that I haven't posted in a month? Well, cut me some slack. A lot's gone on in that last month. Let's see ...

Well, first, I have a J-O-B. That's right, gainful employment. Well, "gainful" might be pushing it--let's just say there's a paycheck that will be forthcoming in regular intervals. I'm working for a non-profit and those guys like to spread the love around--we'll all pretty much be non-profit together.

But it's a job. The work is challenging in that it's not in my core area of expertise but that challenge is also an opportunity for me to learn some new things. Stop! That last sentence sounded like performance appraisal-speak. You know what I'm talking about, right? When you do a performance appraisal in one of those touchy-feely companies like the one I worked for most recently, we used terms like "opportunity" to mean "he ain't gettin' the job done!" For instance, "Godfrey's failure to come to work on time, or at all, represents an opportunity for him to improve his work commitment." What we meant was, "Godfrey needs to have the opportunity to try unemployment and see how that works for him."

Of course, ultimately, The Big Corporation gave me the opportunity to try out unemployment myself, though it was presented a little differently. "Woofgang, we have nothing but good things to say about you, and your performance has always been exemplary, we've raised your salary to a level that can never be matched by another employer, and we've continued to ask you to work more hours and do more things, some of which you know nothing about, but now we've decided we don't need your function at all. So, good luck with finding the next opportunity. Love you!"

So, anyway, I have a new job and I'm working hard to learn it. The environment couldn't be more different than TBC in some ways--small, intimate, working for the good of others rather than for the enrichment of the stockholders and the executives. In other ways, it feels familiar--it's in the Midtown area where I'm used to working, so I know how to make the commute and find sushi when I start to twitch for it. I'm working with two friends from TBC, so I don't have that new-job disconnect of knowing no one and feeling friendless. I'm even within a very short drive of three or four lovely yarn stores, which isn't necessarily a good thing (see note above about pay status). It will be fine. I'm just in a heavy learning curve mode right now, which is performance appraisal-speak for "she don't have a clue what the heck she's doin'."

More later, once I figure out what the heck is happening.

In other news, we have a new baby in the family--one without fur, thank you. Grandniece Ruby was born on April 22 and photos will be forthcoming in time. In the meantime, let's just say she's gorgeous!

By the way, a final word (somewhat tongue in cheek). It makes me laugh when my friends say, semi-accusingly but mostly seriously, "why haven't you written anything in your blog? I checked your blog, and there's nothing new. I know you have a new job and are going to school and just came back from a trip and haven't slept in about a month and are suffering periodic anxiety attacks, but where's the update?"

Now, mind you, most of these folks never even heard the word "blog" until about a year ago, and now they want to know why it's not up to the minute. Next, they'll be wondering why I didn't text them with updates or post my antics on YouTube! But, thanks guys, for caring. I appreciate you being there. Really, I do. And get ready for those text messages.

Maryland Sheep & Wool

This news needs a post of its own. (And I apologize ahead of time for the odd spacing--this whole Blogger WYSIWYG* thing has a mind of its own.)

Two weeks ago, I went with four friends to Maryland Sheep & Wool. MSW is always held the first week in May, which is the exact weekend that I used to walk the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Walk when I lived in the DC area, assuming the weather wasn't too windy to keep walkers from blowing off into the bay. This year (and next year) it was cancelled so I feel less guilty about missing it. And I've got no guilt about MSW, which was wonderful. How could you look at this face and feel guilty about anything? (Well, maybe those lamb kabobs ....)

Speaking of food, can I just say: Maryland Blue Crabs! Yes, we had some on Friday. Yes, they're a pain to eat, since you get about a tablespoon of crab out of one smallish crab (graded as Large, for purposes of charging $58/dozen), yes, they're messy, and OMG, were they good!!!!!!! Enough said. Back to fiber.

So, let's see, what can I tell you? Well, there was that Ravelry gathering, for one thing. Yup, the photo is in the Rabbit Barn, full of ... not bunnies, Ravelers.

I don't know what the final count was, but it felt like a bunch (that's a technical quantifier term) of Ravelers. (I'm guessing that the MSW folks are wondering, right now, what hit them. Who in the world were all those folks stuffed into one smallish barn wearing buttons with odd names?) (Note: No, the buttons don't have names--the people who wear the buttons have odd names, and yes I can write correct English, thank you. I just don't always choose to do so.)

This is the Saturday gathering, where we were all standing around waiting to meet Jess and Casey. (In the interests of honesty let me say that I actually did perch my rather large behind on a very un-sturdy and sort of teetery pile of boards for a few minutes until it became clear that I was going to end up knitting on the, dirt. Then I stood with the rest of the Ravelers, grateful to have a place to do it.)

Eventually Jess and Casey showed up and we all crowded in to get our teeny-tiny little-bitty stick-on-your-Ravelry-button Ravatars. We pushed each other and shoved in a mostly-but-not-entirely polite way (my own personal thanks to the lady in the scooter who ran over my foot and then glared at me because, I guess, I was in her barn and her personal space--that would be the Howard County Fairgrounds, I suppose). Finally, I got to the front and learned ... they apparently brought all the Ravatars except the W-page. That meant that Woofgang Pug was at home somewhere in Ravelry-ville, on the office floor.

Oh, well, that didn't stop WP. I, along with all the other Ravelers, had my Ravelry button and I wasn't afraid to display it. That alone was enough to get smiles all across the fairgrounds. I'd be standing in a line, or knitting on a bench, or just walking, and someone would say, "Oh, you're Woofgang Pug--I recognize your name!" or "Oh, hey, I'm Lady Red, who are you?" It's impossible to underestimate the impact Ravelry is making in the knitting community and it's wonderful. Thanks, Jess and Casey. That little sticker would probably have just muddled up my button anyway.

Anyway, missed the Saturday night party and the Sunday gathering. Saturday night we were wayyyyyy too busy piling our loot on the bed in the hotel room and alternately wondering "what was I thinking" and "oh my god, I missed that booth with the [fill in the blank]."

No, that's not all mine. That's the combined treasure of all five dedicated fiber-shoppers. And yes, I know that's last year's bag in the front--one of our shoppers liked last year's logo better than this year's. Each to her own!

And Sunday ... well, Sunday was spent following our lists of all the places we had somehow missed on Saturday. This method has its advantages and disadvantages. For instance, you don't blow your entire fiber wad on Brooks Farm on Saturday, but the yarn selection is a little dicey on Sunday. Oh, well. It's not like I didn't come home with BF yarn anyway!

The newest member of our MSW tribe, Sandy, was heard whining on Sunday that we hadn't fully warned her about how dangerous Sundays were...the need to buy everything we'd either missed or resisted on Saturday was irresistible! Of course, in light of the smallishness of the paycheck in my new job, and the fact that I have absolutely NO time to knit at all, I am now seriously reconsidering all those purchases, but that's another story.

So, back to the animals. There were alpacas. (And, thank goodness, no Alpacaburgers!)

And more sheep. (How in the heck did I miss all the dogs? I saw a grundle of sheepdogs but somehow missed taking their photos...or has Buddy put a hex on my camera? Nothing about that dog would surprise me!)

And llamas. They spit but at least they don't run over you with their motorized scooters. And they have spinnable fiber--guess who I'd rather hang out with?

And more alpacas.

And, of course, the Society for Creative Headgear, er, Anachronism, which really deserves some explanation but this picture just says it all:

Let's just say that there were these very oddly dressed people (think middle-aged people in Middle Ages clothing like robes and wimples and funny hats and haircuts) wandering around and, because we live in an incredibly politically correct society and because we like to think of ourselves as being open-minded sorts of folks here in the fiber commmunity, we heard lots of comments like "up there, near the booth where the ... er, uh ... monks are sitting" or "are those people Amish or what?" (Uh, no!) or, sometimes, "why is that guy wearing that hat, for god's sake?" (Okay, that last comment was only heard inside my own head, but you get the idea.) These folks were demonstrating crafts of the middle ages and doing a good job of it, and were very friendly and pleasant, but they were so darned odd that it made me understand why the plague might not necessarily have been altogether a bad thing.

And let's not even talk about why people stuck in the 1500's have a website and email. That's just too odd.

Finally, speaking of funny looking people with odd head gear, here's our group in the airport on the way home. Odd? Nah...just happy sheep lovers. With ears.

*WYSIWYG=What you see is what you get.