Thursday, February 28, 2008

Waiting Room Revelations

There are any number of reasons for me to find a new doctor.  Oodles.  If I really put my mind to it, I could go on for days and days...

Just off the top of my head, there's the fact that she runs a small practice and really has more patients than the office hours can accommodate.  She's usually triple-booked and the wait time can be lengthy.

She has a family of her own and is committed to being a mom.  It's first and foremost.  This means that she may decide to cancel appointments during school vacation week and reschedule them for the following week.  Not only does this mean I have to take a sick day in order to take care of my regular appointment, but that she will be even more over-booked and that the wait time will increase exponentially.

The parking lot is small and, with all the stupid (and still falling) snow we've had this year, finding a place to put even a smallish SUV is tricky.  I found myself having to use the handicapped spot this morning, then having to watch the lot like a parking stalker for a new spot to open up so I could race out to move my vehicle.  I don't like using handicapped parking.  I'm not handicapped.  

The drug reps are everywhere and their sharp suits make me feel frumpish.  Especially on days when I don't feel well and have pretty much just rolled out of bed to make the appointment and am looking not so sharp.  

There is also the humiliation factor that is born out of responding truthfully to the New Nurse Who Doesn't Know Me All That Well when she asks, "How are you?"  I may have said something along the lines of:

I am sickly...miserably so, in fact.  I feel like tiny elves have insinuated themselves into my joints and are currently pounding away with their wee, little hammers.  My sinuses are throbbing and my ears are popping.  I hate my life and everyone who crosses my path.  And, since all those path-crossing people are sicker than me these days and have fevers to prove it, I am not getting the sympathy I feel is due me.  They're all, "wah-wah, I'm so sick and my temperature is over 100 so I don't have time to coddle your non-feverish, whiny self so go away.  This means is that no one is telling me I should go home and eat popsicles which is really all I want to do but I can't if no one tells me this is the best course of action so here I am without a fever but with lots of hammering elves and I am not happy...not happy at all.  How are you?

I'm supposed to be able to go back and face her again after that?  Really?

And then there's the whole thing where the New Nurse Who Doesn't Really Know Me All That Well And Was Unprepared For How I Be told me that she'd send the doctor in right away.  She didn't.  Or if she did, the doctor was busy attending to one of The Fever Folk and I wasn't really a priority.  Although you'd think that my crazy rant might have moved me up the list a bit.  Even if it was only to perform some sort of mental status check...

But, for all that, there are more reasons to stay.  The receptionist is amazing and knows each patient like a best friend.  She'll ask after the cat and admire your Waiting Room Sock.  That New Nurse has a pretty darned good sense of humor and was smart enough to not weigh my whining and just coming off vacation self.  That was a pretty good call.  The chairs are comfortable enough to allow for lounging and wielding knitting needles of varying lengths.  There is no Muzak pumped in and the clocks aren't hidden from sight.  We all know where we are and how long it's been since we got there.  We are considered responsible enough to handle the wait like adults and without distractions.

And my doctor, once she is finally able to make her way to my little corner of the Waiting World, knows me.  She knows me well.  When I launch back into my rant, she hears what she needs to hear.  She does not argue with me when I say that I want my "preemptive cocktail."   She also knows exactly what that means and will be writing the prescription for Zithromax and a codeine-based cough medicine before the words are even out of my mouth.  She and I both know that waiting for the fever to manifest is just asking for trouble.  The doc is on top of her game.  I don't even bother using yoga breathing to hide my chest wheezing anymore when she's listening to my lungs.  She know my game.  She's willing to play along, though.  And I appreciate that.  

But the main reason for staying on the patient roster of the doctor with limited time and parking is this:  She tells me to stay home, take my soothing yellow goo as needed and to rest.  Fever or not.  Then she places the final piece in the prescription puzzle...

She orders me to, "Relax on the couch and knit something."


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

WNBP: The Risky Business Version

Well, hello there!  Welcome to another weekly edition of The Wednesday Night Bullet Post.  'Tis a time to celebrate the random tendencies in all of us.  And for The Sheep to justify her inability to come up with a topic on a regular basis.

*It has come to my attention that, during winters such as this one, children start to think of all snow events as being something which will shorten their school day.  Even if their teacher tries to tell them that this isn't going to happen.  Even if she shows them a weather report which confirms that there will not be enough snow to justify a snow day or even a delayed start, they will be very grumpy when this does not come to pass.

*One or two of the adults in the building also seemed to be under the same impression yesterday.  And with similar emotional results this morning.

*I am still feeling all achy, snuffly and thick-headed.  And I still can't seem to raise a fever.  I managed to crank the internal thermostat up to about 99 degrees this afternoon.  But that's not enough to really start cashing in on the sympathy.  

*This is irritating to me.  I told my Cheerful Teaching Assistant today that I don't care if I get really sick.  I just want a change in status.  Something, anything, different.  This "hovering on the edge of really being sick" is just getting annoying.

*Rest assured that I take Baby Brother Sheep's comments on yesterday's post about his new Grandpa Status in stride and with great sibling-laced humor.  We go way back.  He's a good egg.

*He also is new at this and does not know that Grandpas are kindly gentlemen who always have peppermints in their pockets and wish to share tales from their youth.  Like the time they caught the dickens for chasing the milk cart or when they saw the first dirigible.  He also might not be getting enough fiber.

*His birthday is coming up in a couple of months.  I'm gonna get him one of those snazzy sweaters with the leather patches on the elbows and maybe a nice pair of pants that come up to his armpits.  He'll cheer right up!

*It's sort of nice to know that you can shop for your little brother's birthday gifts right at the drugstore.  That'll be handy...

*I'm dead.  I know this.  Any day now.  He'll come for me and it will be the brother/sister war to end all wars.  And he'll be perfectly justified.  I really should be ashamed.  

*But, God help me, I can't seem to stop.

*'Cuz it's funny when it happens to your brother.

*I know...I just won't tell the one about how you can get the Reader's Digest in the large print now.  If I just stop before I tell that one, then everything will be fine.  And that whole bit about wearing slippers to the grocery store?  Best not to mention it.

*I feel a joke about driving ten miles with the blinker on bubbling just under the surface.  But, I'm not going there.  Not at all.  Instead, I'll offer to help him practice the "Got your nose!" game.  I hear that's a big one with the Grandpa set.

*I sneezed on The Big, Fluffy Kitty last night while I was talking to my sister-in-law about the new baby.  Right in her face.  I tried to stop...but I couldn't.

*I've never seen her look at me like that.  It was sort of chilling.

*She didn't even look at me like that back in December when I had to take off all her matted butt fur and she was bald and silly-looking.  She took that in stride.  

*If my brother doesn't get me, the cat will.  

*My doctor cancelled my appointment last week.  This was sort of inconvenient as it was timed during vacation and would have meant not having to take a sick day.  But, since I'm feeling all sickly without a fever, I suppose it worked out kind of well.  I'm going in tomorrow for the routine once-over and I'm gonna get me a preemptive antibiotic.  Just in case I happen to be really sick and not grossly overreacting.  

*I do that sometimes.

*Happily, I have a nice, plain sock upon which to knit while I wait in the reception area. I'm also going to use the time to try and work up a good cough so that the doctor knows I'm really sick.  I've already got the whining down so she should be properly convinced of my infirmity even if I can't get a fever cranked up by then.

Happy Wednesday to all and I hope that your journey towards the weekend is a smooth one.  If I fail to check in by tomorrow, it is safe to assume that I have been taken out by either feline or sibling.

Or perhaps both if they decide to work together on this.  There's a scary thought...


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Never There When You Need It

I awoke this morning fever-free and ready to face the day, the next snowstorm and whatever else the universe saw fit to hurl at me.  This disturbingly perky attitude lasted as long as it took for me to arrive at school and be faced with any number of student-related issues but I like to think that I gave it the old college try.  Hey, if nothing else I was feeling better!

By 8:00, though, things were starting to go south in the "sense of well-being" department.  The aches 'n pains settled back in and it was apparently high tide in my right sinus cavity.  Certain that the fever was back and that I could maybe scarf up a little of that sweet, sweet school nurse sympathy, I headed down to the office to get myself checked out.

It's a little tricky trying to get sympathy from the nurse when she is suffering from pneumonia, but she did her best.  She gave me the thermometer and even let me put it under my tongue all by myself like a big girl.  We waited the requisite three minutes and checked it, all breathless with anticipation.  

97.4  Or, as I like to call it: normal.

I felt a little ripped off, if you want the truth.  What's the point in feeling all achy and having your sinuses popping if you can't claim a fever?  It's like getting that new Prada bag on sale because the label came off.  It's still a Prada...but no one else knows that.  And feeling yucky without a fever is just a waste of a trip to the nurse's office.  I did manage to score some ibuprofen for my trouble and got her thoughts on how this might be the flu kicking in.  But it was all pretty half-hearted and perfunctory.  I didn't get the cooing and coddling I'd been seeking.

Plus, she looked way worse than I did what with the pneumonia and all.  I sort of felt badly whimpering when she was suffering and having that nasty reaction to the antibiotic.  It seemed rather self-centered...

Meanwhile, with no fever to fall back on as an excuse, I had little choice but to carry on with my day and keep teaching the children who are probably the ones who gave me this feverless misery in the first place.  I even had to do the Tuesday-I-Couldn't-Hate-This-More-If-It-Came-With-A-Side-Of-Broccoli Workout.  I felt resentful all through it.  And my right sinus area was still popping conveniently in time with each sit-up.

However, the hour spent on the bike was good for the sock knitting so I suppose it wasn't a total wash.  If it weren't for the exercise bike/sock knitting, I honestly don't think I could find anything good to say about the process, popping sinuses or no.

Hopefully, tomorrow will bring clear roads and even clearer sinuses.  The snows are falling mightily tonight, but it is looking good for a changeover to rain.  And if this Winter To End All Winters can find it in its heart to stop burying us in the white stuff, then I see no reason why my Sinus-Popping, Joint-Throbbing, Head-Pounding, But Fever-Free So It Doesn't Count illness shouldn't also cut me some slack.

Oh, and lest I forget to inject a happier note into a somewhat whiny post, I should tell you that we have all had a few title changes around here.  The roster is now as follows:

Sister-In-Law Sheep is now playing the role of "Memere Sheep."

Niece Sheep has assumed the role of "Mama Sheep."

 Jarrid will be known as the new Cute Little Lambie in the Sheep family.

Oh...and Baby Brother Sheep?  He's now going by "Papa Sheep."  Cuz he's a grandpa.  That's funny.  Really, really funny...'cuz he's a GRANDPA!!!!!!!   Hee-hee!!!!!!

Those of you tempted to point out that I am now a Great Aunt should maybe reconsider that urge.  That is not so funny.  Not like my brother being a Grandpa which is hysterical because...well, it just is when it happens to your brother.  And I am sickly (but not feverish) so I can't be held responsible for anything I may do to emphasize the lack of funny with the Great Aunt thing.

I'm working on a better title.  Something with the words, "Royal Highness," and "Magnificent" in it...


Monday, February 25, 2008

Don't Think

Every once in a while, the universe takes time out of its busy day to look down and say, "Hey, Sheepie!  We don't pay you to think!"

Sometimes I need the reminder.  I have a tendency to believe that I have a clue and the universe is justified in stepping in every now and again.  

For example, I thought that I was grumpy and out of sorts today because it was the first day back at school after a week's vacation.  I know I'm supposed to be all grateful for the ample vacation time I get.  And I am.  I really, really am.  But the first Monday back is always kind of a slap in the face.

I thought that I was running late today because it was the first Monday and that I was having trouble remembering my routine.  Sometimes I can't even get out of my own way.  I swear to you, there are days, I can't believe they let me own property or vote...

I thought that the pain I felt in my ear the other day was due to my traipsing around the beach Friday morning in the below-freezing breezes.  Sometimes the cold gives me an earache.  

I thought that my not being particularly interested in much of anything that was going on at my teaching job was due to that whole Monday thing I mentioned before and because I was forced to deal with the some of the fallout from the unfortunate student incident which occurred the day before we all scattered for vacation.

I thought that the aching in my fingers yesterday was due to my having started and ripped umpty-gajillion different sock patterns for the better part of a Sunday.

I finally settled on the Lacy Mock Cable Socks.  I rather like them...

I thought that my utter dread of the next snow storm, bearing down upon us for a Tuesday afternoon arrival, was due to the sinus pain all the changes in pressure is causing me.  

I thought that maybe I was just all Seasonally Affected and that I needed a dose of spring.  But, the warm temperatures today didn't seem to be making me feel any better about anything.

I thought a lot of things.  I do that sometimes.  But, you know...there is another possibility here. It could be (and I'm just tossing this one out there) that my inability to focus, the pain in my noggin area, my aching joints and my utter disregard for the employment which pays the bills is due to the slight fever I am currently sporting.  

It's just a thought.  I don't generally run high fevers.  In fact, my usual body temperature is somewhere between "Hugging An Iceberg" and "Dead."  Even a low fever tends to make its presence known.  It could be that I was over-thinking all that other stuff.  The universe might just have a point.

However, I certainly hope the universe also has some sort of plan for me to recover quickly.  Not to get too caught up in the logistics of it all, but I think I may have little to no time for sickness right now.  I think that the timing is bad.  I think the universe needs to send me some chicken soup and a decongestant and that it needs to be quick about it.

It's just a thought.  (Stupid universe...)


Sunday, February 24, 2008


The theme for this weekend seems to have been: It's not me.  It can't just be me.

Last night, I reached a rather frustrating conclusion.  It may be a little radical, but I'm sticking with it.  I think I may even compose a theme song or something, a little ditty to rally the troops around me...a call to arms, if you will.  I have decided that there is no excuse for poorly skeined yarn.  Further, there is no excuse for stupidly skeined yarn.  

There.  I said it.  I have no problem laying out cash for good yarn, especially if it is something I covet, something that will make me happy.  Sure, the non-knitting world may shake their heads at the very idea of a $25.00 pair of socks.  But everyone has their little weaknesses and I've come to love a good sock yarn.  Sometimes I even love it enough to buy two skeins of the stuff.

Fresh from my Monkey victory and a-tingle with the possibilities for new and exciting sock knitting, I delved back into the stash last night and came up with a rather lovely example of such yarn.  It is soft, beautifully dyed and has rather pleasant associations.  The day I purchased it was a fun one.  I'd picked up two skeins, thinking it might work as well for a scarf as for socks, but it really seemed to want to become the latter.  

However, one skein was a bit raggedy.  It looked like it was escaping from the twisted state in which I purchased it.  But, having had a little experience with winding yarn, I figured I'd be fine.  I wasn't.  Within minutes, the $25.00 hank of yarn had exploded into a tangled mass and thwarted my attempts to corral it back into something that resembled order.  

No problem.  I had another skein.  Flukes happen.  Thankfully, I was prepared.  I may have even chuckled just a little bit at the mess I'd created.  The second skein was brought forth from the stash and happy winding was anticipated.  

However, when I began to untwist the skein, I saw (to my horror) that the inner workings resembled ramen noodles.  It may have looked good on the outside.  But the inside...not so much.

I tried.  I really did.  But it was to no avail.  In the interest of cutting to the chase and making a long story short (er), I shall simply say that there is now $50.00 worth of very lovely and very tangled sock yarn unceremoniously tossed back into the stash room awaiting the day when my rage has gone down a degree or two.  

This is not the first time I've had a problem winding some of the pricier yarns.  I used to think I simply lacked the skill or an understanding of how certain companies make skeins happen.  But, I'm starting to think that maybe, just's not me.

I have the technology.  I own a swift.  I even own a skein-winder.  I have a ball-winder.  The tools are at my disposal.  I know how to use them.  And, as a spinner, I've twisted up a skein or two myself.  I think it might just be that I am a victim of badly wound yarn, fiber so convoluted that no one save a navigator of some sort could work their way around it.

There is no excuse.  The Yarn Company Who Shall Not Be Named should be ashamed.  I only hope that when I finally rediscover the yarn dumped in the stash room I remember how much I paid for it and don't just toss it thinking that it was some cheap yarn I'd considered unworthy of winding.

Meanwhile, with the clock on school vacation week running down, I really wanted to get something on the needles.  Something of a kinder and gentler nature.  Something that wouldn't explode.  Stash diving recommenced and I surfaced with a skein of The Flock Bransonas that I won in a comment contest from Jane last summer.  It was bright, festive and, best of all, eager to go from swift to ball-winder to needles, unlike its cranky cousins.  

See?  I do too know how to wind yarn!

Of course, nothing is ever simple.  Getting the yarn into a center-pull ball is really only the first step.  Then you have to knit it.  And that has not gone quite as well.  I've been through three different patterns thus far today and am hoping that the fourth will be the one that sticks.  The time for fiddling around is over.  Tomorrow I'll be back at school and all consumed with educating America's future.  I won't see uninterrupted knitting time in any real way until April.  
Maybe by then I will have forgiven the ramen noodle yarn.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Coping Skills

I have to admit that I wondered if I was the only one around here who was utterly flummoxed by the plethora of letters that have been taped to our doors recently.  This year's rather excessive snowfall has resulted in the need for a great deal of plowing in my condo complex and the directions for how to handle locating our vehicles during this trying time have been less than clear.  

First, I went with the old rules which stated that we were to move our cars after the plows had cleared the general areas.  They would return later to do parking spots.  Then we were chastised for not moving our vehicles with enough enthusiasm and we all started relocating at the first hint of snow in the air.  Next, the management company told us that the plow people were complaining about all the cars scattered hither 'n thither while they were trying to clear the roadways and suggested that we move/not move our cars.  (I had a minor stroke trying to figure that one out.)  Lastly, we received a copy of the minutes from the last board meeting in which the records seem to indicate the the plow guys love us more than chocolate and professional baseball for all our efforts at making the cars disappear.

My head hurt.  It hurt a lot.  My knee also hurt because the plows haven't really been coming with any regularity and I've been struggling through snow and ice to get to my truck which has been obediently parked in The Land Of Far And Away.  

But, I wondered if it was really just my own inability to understand the directions.  Perhaps everyone else "got it."  I didn't dare say anything for fear that I might become known as the Parking Impaired Lady amongst my fellow residents.  Today, though, I think I may have gotten some reassurances on this matter.

It snowed last night.  About five inches fell on our happy little community.  And no one, not one person, moved their cars.  All were left right where they were parked in happier, sunnier times.   I went out this morning to run errands and opted to leave the truck over in The Land Of Far And Away just in case the plows came through to clear the parking spaces.  But, I was one of the few who bothered.  Much to my surprise, the plows did return and my space was scraped.  No one raced out to accommodate this process, though.  Cars were all left stubbornly in their snow-covered spaces.  Now, this could just mean that everyone was napping, in the shower or knitting complicated lace at that precise time and unable to go out to move their vehicles.  But, I don't think so.

I just went out to put the truck back in its space and happened to glance at the bulletin board in the common hallway, the one where the sign was tacked up to remind us to move our cars during snow events.  And it was then I knew I wasn't the only one with Parking Confusion.

Someone had removed the sign and flipped it to the wrong side, the blank side.  It's not just me...

The whole parking conundrum served to distract me from my decision to not attend SPA this year, though.  That's a useful function, I suppose.  It was a tough call in some respects, an easy one in others.  Ultimately, it was the right one, but there were a few moments of regret.  I decided to fill the hours spent at home instead of frolicking with the other fiber enthusiasts with activities that were at least in the genre.  Once the whole "where the heck am I supposed to put my truck???" issues were past, I had a clear mind with which to work.

At the Dollar Store, I satisfied my shopping needs with the purchase of a new clock.  A dollar is far less than I would have spent at the vendor's tables and the clock tickles me almost as much as new yarn.

It's a sheep clock!  And it works...which isn't always the case with dollar clocks.

I finished spinning up the first bobbin of merino/silk that has been on my to-do list for the school vacation week:

Toy-Doo, briefly freed from the loving but painful clutches of The Big, Fluffy Kitty, seemed impressed.

Most importantly, though, I made it possible to state clearly and for the record that I have conquered the pattern which so confounded me last summer.  With the gracious assistance of Anne and her kind donation of the perfect yarn, I can now join the ranks of the cool kids.

I have knit the Monkey.

Yes, I now have Monkey socks!  I'm all giddy and glowing from the pride!  The Monkey is off my back and on my feet.  When this yarn arrived as part of an extremely generous package, I saw Monkeys almost immediately.  I waited, though.  I distinctly recalled how much trouble the pattern gave me last summer.  But you can't argue with yarn.  The slightly shiny blend of merino and tencel, together with the very subtle shading was exactly what was needed to let the lace pattern pop.  It had to be done.  And I did it in less than a week...which is sort of stunning.  It is also due to the fact that the cuff on these socks is considerably shorter than my usual preference.  But, I'm not going to quibble.  They knit up fast even if you take into consideration the whole cuff thing.  

And I love them.  Deeply.  Passionately.  Perhaps even to the point of inappropriateness.  Thanks, Anne!  You have great taste in yarn!

So, with Monkeys, responsible shopping decisions and the school vacation behind me, I must look forward to the next project.  The winter isn't over yet and I suspect that the Parking Wars are also far from over.  If the weather reports are true, then there may be another storm headed our way next week.  I'll need a distraction.  

But, I do find that I cope better in Monkey Socks...


Friday, February 22, 2008

Rare And Picture-Heavy Post

I know, I's Friday.  And I don't usually post on Friday, having given myself permission to take a day off on a weekly basis.  I kind of run out of things to say by Friday and I'm usually all tuckered out by then.  You deserve better than a tired, brain dead Sheepie.

But, as this has been a school vacation week, I'm a little more perky.  So, I'm posting.  With great perk.

About a million years ago, Bells (one of my favorite "other side of the planet" type bloggers) shared some pictures she'd taken on a stroll about the neighborhood and suggested that others consider doing the same.  After all, she pointed out, what is a daily view for you might not be for others.  I thought that was a brilliant idea and planned to head out to share the view from my perspective as soon as possible.

But, I never did.  Other stuff came up.  That, or I was fully engaged in my Summer Of Driving Amongst The Tourists Fueled Rage and couldn't face going out there to take pictures.  It was one of those things...

Today, though, I remembered this mission and thought that winter pix of my little corner of the world might be interesting.  I live in a resort town, one that has no pretensions towards glamour.  We cater to the family vacationing on a budget.  Every few years, someone gets the bright idea to try and fancy the place up a bit.  But it never really works out.  We are what we are: a place on the beach where you can get fries, cheap t-shirts and a sunburn.  And that's not such a bad thing to be, really.

In winter, the whole place gets pretty quiet and has its own sort of beauty, especially on a day like today with a storm getting ready to commence.  The parking is better, too.  You can't get cotton candy.  That's something of a drawback.  But, it is still a pretty unique place to call home.  So, for your viewing pleasure, I give you a tour of the sights a couple of miles from my house.  You will have to imagine the below-freezing temperatures.  There is little I will not do for you.  I'll even risk getting a chill.  I'm a giver.

Looking towards the ocean, you can see the gulls at play:

Hi, gulls!!

Turn around and you can see a place for the people to play:

Finding a seat is a little tricky this time of year, though...

"The Pier" is something of a local landmark.  However, this one is not the pier of my childhood.  That was destroyed during a particularly nasty storm back in 1978.  A new one was built in 1980.


All new 'n shiny!!!

In my town, they raise the Jolly Roger: 

Doesn't yours?

The rides are all locked up and patiently waiting for a new round of visitors seeking a thrill:

"Euro Slide?"  Best not to ask...

This one drew me in for some reason.

Driving School

The best part of being on vacation is allowing yourself to be someone else for a little while:

...maybe even someone who sports a tattoo.

And, of course, there is the food.  What's a beach vacation without some of that deep fried goodness from the sea?

And fried dough.  Not from the sea, but pretty darned good!

This one is handily located next to the arcade just in case the kids have had a little too much sun 'n sugar.  A few quarters can buy a lot of peace for Mom and Dad.

 I stepped over the railroad tracks on the way back to my nice, warm truck.  Seconds later, the warning bells went off.  The train was a-comin'!

So I risked potential frostbite and waited in order that I might snap one last picture.  Like I said...I'm a giver.

I do hope you enjoyed our walk through the beach-side area of my little town during its hibernation period.  In a few short months, it will look very different.  The rides, shops and concessions will all be unchained, dusted off and opened up to the vacationing public.  Things are very cool-looking in that condition, too.  Just in a different sort of way.  Now, let's all go get a nice cup of cocoa, warm up just a bit and enjoy the snows that have begun to fall.  Tomorrow, when my fingers thaw out, I may even be able to resume regular knitting-type blogging.

Unless, of course, I am still trying to figure out what the condo association wants me to do about parking my truck during snow removal.  I have yet to work out that particular issue.

Maybe I just should have left it down at the pier...


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Breaking News

I fully expect the ASPCA, PETA and some random dude in a poncho who just likes the excitement generated by a protest even if he doesn't really know what all the shouting is about to show up at my door any minute now.  There will probably also be any number of news agencies involved so keep an eye on the papers and television.  You'll see me.  The headlines will read:

Sheep Mean To Monkey.  Primate Supporters Gather In Protest. 

You can't really blame the animal rights people.  They are fully justified in their concern.  As one who is highly committed to the ethical treatment of our furry friends, I probably would be joining them if I wasn't so busy being the target of their outrage.

Anyone reading the daily adventures of The Sheep last summer will, perhaps, remember the Monkey Sock debacle.  The pattern had just come out in Knitty and all the cool kids were knittin' 'em.  I just wanted to be a part of the "in" crowd.  I was swept up in the excitement of it all and just had to make a Monkey.  

It didn't go well.  Not well at all.

This had nothing to do with the pattern.  It was purely my own inability to follow the directions.  I'm not sure just what the problem was...but I couldn't get the rhythm of it.  I ripped and ripped again, then let it go.  No Monkeys for Sheepie.

Fast forward a few months, and here I am back in Monkey Land.  I had this yarn that kept calling to me.  It was so soft and desperately wanted me to knit with it this week.  And it really, really, really wanted to be Monkeys.  I tried to reason with it.  I explained how I couldn't seem to get the hang of this pattern.  I pleaded with it to consider being something else and extolled the virtues of the plain, functional, stockinette sock that has served me so well over the years.  But, the yarn would not be moved.  It wanted to be Monkey Socks.  And so I cast on.

Things have gone better this time.  Markedly better, if you want the truth.  There have even been times where I was able to knit merrily on without even referring to the pattern.  And, my goodness gracious, don't these things knit up fast!  But there have been one or two issues, mostly due to my missing yarnovers.  These mind wandering moments have resulted in many hours lost to painstaking tinking.  And some not-very-nice language for a Sheep of my standing in the community.

However, I thought that this would be behind me once I finished the first sock.  I like to think that I learn from my mistakes.  Besides, even with a massive error that lead to the loss of an entire repeat's worth of knitting, I still managed to finish the first one in two and a half days.  With this important piece of self-actualization behind me, I figured I could knit the second in mere hours, if not minutes.

So...I just finished tinking back a row or two on sock the second.  The cursing and name-calling was even worse this time around as I was now convinced of my super-hero status.  I felt betrayed.  I was really only angry at myself...but I took it out on the Monkey.  I know I hurt the Monkey's feelings.  I could tell by the way the yarn sort of slithered out of the loops and forced me to chase it down row after row in order to rescue the dropped stitch.  I suppose I deserved that.  It wasn't really fair to blame the Monkey.  The Monkey didn't really do anything wrong.  I'm pretty sure I heard it yelling, "Hey, Stupid!  Don't forget that yarnover!!!" at one point.  But, I was watching Charmed reruns and just told it to shush.  I regret that.

Everything is fine now, though.  Knitting according to the stated pattern has resumed and all seems to be well.  I've even apologized profusely to the Monkey in the hopes it will forgive me and let bygones be bygones.  This will surely go a long way towards helping my case with the animal rights advocates who are, no doubt, beating a path to my door even as we speak.  I just hope that they can hear my protestations of innocence over all the chanting and sign waving...

Meanwhile, I shall continue to look to sock the first as inspiration.  I can, in fact, knit these socks.  I now have proof.  It's just a matter of staying the course, keeping the eyes on the prize and thinking happy thoughts.  For anyone who had difficulty viewing the sock pictures last night during the blog hiccup, here it is again:

See?  That's my foot.  That's my carpet.  That's my Monkey.  Proof positive!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go see to my Monkey.  I'm going to speak to it soothingly and maybe offer it a banana or two.  A Sheep needs to keep her Monkey happy.

Once all those protesters get here, I'm going to need all the support I can get...


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Therapy Bullets

Another mid-week moment is upon us and it is time for a Wednesday Night Bullet Post.  24 hours in shorthand...I do love the day I can be all over the map. Especially when my mind needs to recover just a little bit. Here we go:

*My internet went out last night. Apparently this occurred shortly after I put up yesterday's post. Timing is everything, I suppose.

*It wasn't a problem, really. I was going out anyway. I decided to go visit The Yarn Sellar and join Noolie and Patti for a Chicks With Sticks knitting night.

*It's good to knit someplace other than the couch every once in a while.

*My Big, Fluffy Kitty really likes Greenies. She loves them a great deal. She now annoys me every time I go into the kitchen, hoping that I will succumb to her cute face and endless bleating and just give her a treat. This can get annoying, but is really good when you need to bribe the kitty into allowing you to go out for the evening.

*When a group of women get together, it is generally pretty likely that at least some of them will be mothers. These Givers Of Life need to get out every now and again. You can't blame them really. It is also pretty likely that you will hear conversations like this when you join a group of them for a knitting night:

Giver Of Life: I can't even let my older son use the other bathroom because his little brother likes to flush his toys and sometimes they don't go down. On the next flush, I have to clean everything up.

Sheepish Annie: I think I may just stop by the hospital on the way home and see about getting a hysterectomy...

*The lady next to me (who I don't really know but who almost had to fend off my inappropriate advances because she has those new, cool Harmony Needles from Knitpicks and I really wanted to pet them) thought that was pretty funny.

*I may not have children, but I know the direction in which these conversations will tend to travel. Noolie and Patti did a rather magnificent job of fleeing the scene to go finalize a yarn-buying transaction. I was not fast enough...

*And, predictably, the conversation turned to all things delivery-related. The Giver Of Life moved on to a description of her journey to the hospital in order that she might give birth to one of these children who would later create such plumbing issues. I didn't really understand most of it, but there did seem to be a rather inordinate use of words like, "crowning," and "sac." I think there was some water involved as well, but I can't really be sure.

*There was this weird buzzing sound in my head and I wasn't breathing all that well.

*Everyone else seemed pretty jazzed about this conversation and all had their own contributions to make as certified Givers Of Life.

*My input consisted of the following:

Maybe I should call ahead. You know. Just to make sure that the hospital has a room available in the Hysterectomy Department...

*The Lady With The Harmony Needles Who Honestly Had No Idea Just How Close I Was To Stealing Them really seemed to like that one.

*By now, things had spiraled completely out of control and we were fully enmeshed in Baby War Stories. The Giver Of Life began describing how she had to explain (in what I can only assume was a less than patient tone at that point) to her husband that she would need a wheelchair once they arrived at the hospital. Or, as she put it, "I can't walk! I've got your kid's head hangin' outta me!!!!!"

*My response: OK. I don't even care if they have an anesthesiologist on call tonight. I'll just bite down on a leather belt or something...

*Harmony Needle Lady, who struck me as being really a rather classy sort of woman, actually made a snorting sound.

*Then things kind of went just a little bit grey. I remember something about the use of some horrifically invasive sort of procedure that involved the manipulation of metallic objects and which was geared towards forcibly removing a baby from a human body...but I can't be sure. All I remember clearly was announcing that I'd like an epidural and the Harmony Needle Lady kind of doubling over.

*The next clear impression I had was of Patti's kindly hand on my shoulder and her asking me if I'd been able to contribute to this conversation in any way.

*The Harmony Needle Lady said I did pretty well...

*It seems that trauma to one's delicate and non-childbearing psyche is rather good for knitting, though.

You can knit, like, a whole sock cuff! It's like you go into a self-protective knitting bubble...

*I still had to stop on the way home and buy an unhealthy amount of half-priced Valentine's Day Candy.

For medicinal purposes only.

*It helped.

*Look, I knit a sock!

Different one from last night, though.  That's still in the knitting bag while I recover from its unpleasant associations.

*I had something of a candy hangover today so it's not like I could be a social butterfly or anything. This left me with a great deal of knitting time.

*And seclusion is good for Childbirth Induced Trauma recovery.

*Knit Night is not for the faint of heart. You gotta be tough to go knit in a group. It's like a gang initiation or something.

Happy Wednesday, everyone. And to all you Givers Of Life out there, as much as I don't care for the group sharing, I gotta say I'm impressed. You're like warriors!!!


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fiber Is Good For You

The fibery sorts of hijinks continue unabated here at Sheep Central.  I continue to shop from the spare bedroom where eighty billion pounds of yarn, fleece and roving have been sitting for quite a while and I am still resisting the urge to buy new stuff just because it's there and I don't have it yet.  Because, let's face it:  routine vehicle maintenance, even if it costs more than you'd hoped, still needs to take precedence.  It's also kind of good for clearing space.

Very responsible.  Probably also a very short-lived sort of thing...but still very responsible.

More of the merino went into the NASCAR crock pot this morning, this time accompanied by sapphire blue dye.  In the interest of sharing new knowledge and eventually being thought of as some sort of fiber guru, I beg you to please make sure of the directions in which your faucets turn before adding more hot water to the dye stock.  In case anyone was wondering what might occur if you happen to turn it the wrong way and send a full-force jet of water into the little paper cup you are using and are considering some sort of experiment, let me save you the trouble.  Dye will splash.  It will splash with great enthusiasm.  It will cascade into the air as if it had always aspired to one day become a geyser.  

You will have to wash the cat's water bowl.

Eventually, though, you will be able to get it washed off your hands.  But you won't have fingerprints anymore...

Yesterday's dyeing experiments are almost dry and I include the picture only to show just how wonky colors can get in photographs.  There is no blue in this fiber.  None whatsoever.  It's a sort of greyish shade of brown.  In fact, brown was the only color in the pot.  But, sometimes a girl has to shove way more fiber in the pot than is good for her.

And she gets yellow...

It looks really cool, though.  I'm keeping it.  Half the fun of doing your own dyeing is seeing what comes out of the pot at day's end.  The other half of the fun is the assurance that any of your professional dyer-type friends will sleep easier knowing that their careers are safe.  There will never be a Sheepish Annie colorway on the market.  Even if there was one, there would only be one, because I couldn't do the same thing twice if you brandished a niddy noddy near my noggin.

Spinning the ridiculously skinny strings of the Louet fiber also took up a bit of the day.  I have moved my spinning chair back by a few inches and am adopting a "devil-may-care" sort of posture while I treadle.  I look all casual and cool.  This keeps the neck from tensing up somewhat and I've been able to spin for longer periods.  

Truth be told, though, I didn't really spin for all that long.  I knit for most of the least for the part that wasn't spent scrubbing blue dye from my nails and counter tops.  Because if there was anyone out there who thought for a minute that I'd merely wound up the pretty, pretty yarn yesterday just for the sake of looking at it, I thank you for your high opinion of me.  It's nice to know that there are folks who think I really do have the strength of character to finish the current project before starting another, no matter how tempting the yarn.

You are so sweet.

The rest of you, the ones who figured I'd just do what I felt like doing and to heck with the consequences...

Good call.  


Monday, February 18, 2008

Postcards From The Stash

There are a couple of bright spots to be found on car-maintenance day.  You just have to look for them.  Otherwise, all you can see are the dollar signs sprouting wings and fluttering out the window like a very not-funny cartoon.  I like to think that I have mastered the art of ignoring the flappy dollars in order than I might find my happy place when this most depressing time of the year rolls around.  It is a time for not only seeking out pleasurable ways to pass the time, but to also give serious thought to working with what you have.  Since the dollars seemed to be flying away in the direction of the mechanic's pockets, it was clearly time to shop from the stash.

This was my mission.  Find the happy.  There were ample opportunities; all I had to do was look, darn it!

For example, my corner of the world is pretty heavily populated by Franco-Americans.  Not quite like it used to be...but there are still many older people in my town who speak with this wonderful French-Canadian accent that is so very comforting to me.  The shuttle driver who ferries those of us who have to leave our cars at the dealership for service is just such a fellow.  I adore my travels with him.  I love hearing of his grandchildren, the exotic locales he has visited whilst driving his magical shuttle that day and how he would never, ever move to Florida because the humidity is just too much for him.  I like how he moves the shuttle when he realizes that he has parked us in a puddle instead of making me do a seated long jump from the passenger's seat.  He is a gentleman of the olde school.

Also, without a car, I am stuck at home.  It is the perfect sort of day to drag out the NASCAR crockpot, the one people think I am kidding about owning, and dye up a pot of merino.  It looks like soup.

But it's not...

This is but a small portion of the fleece Cathy sent me last summer.  I made some headway on it back in July and August, but it was set aside once the school year started.  It's rather nice to rediscover it during the dark days of winter and remember what it was like to have open windows for venting the smell of vinegar.  

But dyeing only takes up a small amount of actual have-to-pay-attention time, especially if you use a crockpot and there is no way it is going to boil over or anything.  As I was still trapped without a car and almost maniacally committed to finding pleasant ways to spend a car-fixin' day, I sought out new entertainment.

Spinning comes to mind.  Louet from Lorrie!  Yeah...that'll do it!

At least it did until I got a stiff neck.  That seems to be happening more and more during spinning time these days.  I think I need a new chair.  But this is not in keeping with my "working with what I have" theory and I didn't really feel like dragging furniture around to find something more comfortable.  So I had to come up with another plan.  Nothing big.  Just something to get me out of the uncomfortable spinning chair for a little bit so the neck could rest.  Hmmm....whatever could I do???

I thunk and I thunk.  And then I got it!  There's this yarn.  It's sort of haunted me since it came to live here.  Wait.  That's not quite right.  "Haunted" implies that it moans a lot and is scary.  And that it's maybe sort of transparent.  It's none of those things.  It is soft and has a sort of shimmery quality to it that is kind of ethereal, but not like a ghost or anything.  I've thought about this yarn a great deal.  

Now, I knew that I couldn't be starting a new project.  That would be wrong.  I have a second sock on the needles right now and really want to get that finished before the week is out.  No.  I can't be knitting anything with this magical yarn.

But there was no law that said I couldn't wind it.  

Yup.  Winding the pretty Mind's Eye Yarn that Anne sent me was a perfectly lovely way to bring on a little of the Stash Happy.  And doing so was a wonderful distraction from the stiff neck.  It even filled up a little bit of the time spent waiting for the truck to finish healing.  Even after it was wound into the pretty, little yarn cake, I could still spend a few blissful minutes thinking of what it wanted to be when it grew up. 
See?  It is possible to work with what you have.  It is even possible to use what you have to distract yourself from the sound of cash register bells clanging away from the direction of the mechanic's garage.  By the time the charming shuttle driver came to pick me up, I was in quite the fine mood, I must say.

Spinning was spun, wool was dyed and a yarn cake was born.  But the yarn was not for knitting, only for looking.  I resisted the urge to cast on with the pretty, shiny, oh-so-soft yarn...

Or did I?


Sunday, February 17, 2008

I Repeat: Really?

I started off pretty well this morning.  I got out of bed and that is always a good first step towards having a productive sort of day.  I had to crawl my way out of 800 pounds of happy, purring fur to do to it, but I succeeded.  The Big, Fluffy Kitty is rather pleased when I fight my way back to consciousness each morning and is rather "enthusiastic" in her celebration of my reanimation.  

Everything was going pretty well.  I had some coffee.  I watched a little TV.  I fed the savage, furry beast who was so intent upon killing me with affection.  I was dressed and ready to head out for a few quick errands before returning home to begin my weekly housekeeping in earnest.

Note:  "Weekly Housekeeping" might be a little misleading.  I pretty much just scape a layer off the top of the mess in which I live and call it good.  But it's better than nothing...

If I had just stayed home today, I probably would have a working brain right now.  I wouldn't have opened the door.  I wouldn't have had that piece of paper catch my eye as it fluttered to the floor.  I would still be living in blissful ignorance of the stupidity in which I currently exist.  And I wouldn't have broken six brain vessels trying to understand it.

But, I did.  And there is no getting around it.  Maybe when my brain heals, I will have learned a lesson of some sort and will never again read the stuff that the condo association sticks to my door.

For anyone who is new here, let me do a quick rundown of the story.  Everyone else just twiddle your thumbs, chat quietly or write letters to your favorite elected official.  Or you could knit.  That would be good, too.

Incident The First:  Letters were taped to the doors of all residents here in this little slice of paradise informing us that we were bad people who did not move our cars in order that the plows might come through on stormy days.  In fairness, the plows rarely come through on stormy days and there is really no reason to move our cars.  But we were all too scared of the Mighty Parking Powers and began moving our cars with great gusto.

Incident The Second:  Letters were taped to the doors of all residents praising our car-moving efforts.  We preened.  We began moving our cars for no reason whatsoever just so we could win the prize for Best Car Mover.

Incident The Third:  On Valentine's Day, residents were treated to a third round of note-taping, this time from the management company.  They had some concerns with regard to all the car moving as the plows couldn't maneuver around the plethora vehicles that had been moved to the roadways.  Their directions for solving this problem seemed to be that we should continue moving our cars while simultaneously not moving our cars.  Certain residents experienced minor brain trauma trying to figure out just what the heck they were supposed to do during the next storm and sleep was lost.

OK.  I need everyone back now.  This is the new stuff.  Thanks for your patience.

Incident The Fourth:  On Saturday, February the 17th, mere days after Incident The Third, yet another note appeared on the doors of the now permanently brain damaged residents who are all considering taking the bus to work and selling off their cars for scrap metal.  This innocent looking slip of paper contained the minutes from the last annual budget meeting. This meeting took place in late January and well before Incident The Third.  The fourth item addressed the snow removal process and the feedback from the company hired to perform said removal...

It says they are pleased with the support the residents have given them and encouraged us to all continue the effort.

That's it.  I'm out.  I done all I can do.  I can't do no more.  To spend any more precious time trying to puzzle through this logic loop is going to leave me in a vegetative state.  

I finished a sock.

And then I took a nap.  


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Fixing Stuff

Friday was a bad day.  It started early, before the first class even began.  And those early events pretty much cast a shadow over the rest of the day.  In the interest of respecting kids' rights to make mistakes and have bad judgement because they are really still learning how the world works, we shall dub these events "Non-Bloggable." (even if they end up affecting their teacher who wasn't even there when the bad judgement was implemented and did nothing to deserve the resulting yucky day) We will all just acknowledge that some days were meant to be Yucky.  

But, Yucky days don't have to be irreparable.  Especially if they happen on a Friday because, if nothing else, you don't have to deal with The Yuck for a while.  You can avoid The Yuck.  The Yuck will stay at work and you get to go home, maybe even stick your tongue out at The Yuck and make neener-neener noises while you do it.  If you are of the less mature variety of folks anyway...

Friday is the day I get to leave work a little earlier than usual per my agreement with various administrative types, so I decided to do a little errand-running on the way home.  These errands were designed to fix things.  Some were of a practical variety.  I decided a while ago to purchase a litter disposal system from the local pet store as I have lost all patience with scooping the offending substance into those stupid new grocery store bags that are cheap and always seem to rip on me.  I fixed that little problem with a Litter Locker and can now lock my litter for up to two weeks without having to see it, smell it or sweep it up from the floor after it leaks out of the grocery store bag that did not wish to receive it.

Other errands were more along the lines of fixing my bad mood.  The bookstore next to the pet shop just happened to be having a little sale so I did a little Local Shopping to support the small business owners and all.

The Big, Fluffy Kitty was really more interested in the knitting books than the Litter Locker.  But then, she doesn't have to do the scooping, now does she?

After stopping at the store on the last leg of the trip home for frozen pizza and snacks, I felt I had gone a long way towards fixing The Yuck.  But, there was still something amiss, I fear.
Yucky days make for bad hair.  Very Yucky Days are also stressful and make gray hair grow on one's head.  I despaired for a moment.  And then happened to glance at the calendar.  Huzzah!!  Saturday morning's calendar square just happened to feature a penciled-in appointment with The World's Greatest Stylist And Life Coach!  Again I say, "Huzzah!!!"  

The tresses were scheduled to be put in The Way Back Machine and youthful vigor restored!  And this very morning, that appointment was kept.  The World's Greatest Stylist did the polite thing and asked for my thoughts on color and style, knowing full well that this was merely for form's sake.  In the end, we always go with the standard Do What You Want approach since that is pretty much what is going to happen anyway.  Apparently, The Yuck had really done a number on my hair yesterday as she determined that more of the blonde was needed than is usual.  But, I went with it because I am not a fool and I know my place in this relationship.  And, I have to admit, more of the blonde really does make a girl feel less overpowered by The Yuck.

I took my refreshed locks on a field trip to the used bookstore next to the Happy Hair Place and more reading material was procured.  I even bought those two cross stitch books from the super-duper discount shelf because, as I said to the book guy, "they've just been there forever and that makes me sad..."  I like to think that even used cross stitch books deserve rescuing from their own version of The Yuck.  I fixed their day, too!

And now there is naught but knitting and frozen pepperoni pizza for a while.  The cupboards are stocked with comfort foods, the hair is looking stunning and reading material is available on any number of subjects when things get dull.  I've even got another movie downloading just in case I haven't fully fixed The Yuck and require more happy stuff to make it go away for good.  I'm The Fixer.  I make The Yuck go away.  I'm riding high on my own ability to make it all better.

Which is good.  Because Monday I have to take the truck in to the garage for a look-see.  Let's hope The Yuck is feeling particularly submissive at this point.  In the past, I've had some rather bad luck with motor vehicle sorts of issues.

And I don't think my Fixin' abilities extend to engine repair...