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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Saying Goodbye

When I was up in Minnesota in April, my dad put his house on the market. This is the house I grew up in, the one my parents had lived in since before I was born. As I blogged earlier, the house was mostly empty when we arrived (although not as empty as it should have been!) and it was strange.

My dad had a very hard time with it, especially as it came closer to the day we were leaving to return to Georgia. In fact, he got pissed off in the grocery store because the clerks in the deli were too young. Emotion looking for an outlet, and since men from his generation don't show sadness or grief, it came out as anger. I had to send him off to another part of the store, apologize to the clerk, and take over buying lunch meat.

It wasn't hard to guess what was going on with him, so on the ride home, I told him that home wasn't a place, home was family and that he was living with me and we'd be together even without the house.

But it was difficult for me, too, to say goodbye to this house. It (and my parents) had always been there for me my entire life. Now it isn't.

In a way, though, it stopped being home after my mom died. When we went up in April 2016, just a few months after she passed away, the emptiness was resounding. I spent a lot of time up there crying and trying not to, but everything reminded me of her.

Now the house is sold. We closed on June 6th. It belongs to someone else. Our Realtor thought he was an investor who'd remodel the house and resell it, which makes sense because it hasn't been updated since it was built. (Although my parents did put in new windows, new insulation, new roofing, and had the entire electrical system redone.)

I'm super curious to see what this guy is going to do to the interior of the house. Part of me, I think, will be excited to see it looking new and happy again. Part of me will be sad to see all the changes because it won't be the home I remember. Of course, I could be completely wrong and feel none of these things. I'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Why, Designers, Why?

Knitting and crochet designers--unless they're affiliated with some of the really big yarn brands--have this super annoying habit of choosing really expensive yarn that isn't necessarily easy to find. This makes me insane.

Never mind that the stuff is usually expensive. That irks me, too, but is a separate problem. It's the fact that I can't even find the flipping yarn they're using. Yes, I know about, but a lot of times (for real!) they call out substitutions that are every bit as hard to find as what the designer used to begin with. That's even more frustrating.

So I have this pattern for a gorgeous shawl made with bright colors. I love bright colors. It calls out for Azula Nebula and can I find all four colors in one online yarn store? No, of course I can't. I can get two at one store with a third sold out and the fourth not available at all. I can get two at another store with the other two colors not carried at all. A lot of stores don't have the colors I need or they'll carry like four shades and nothing more. These four shades are usually boring colors.

Seriously, this yarn is expensive enough without having to add shipping from multiple stores into the equation!

I headed over to Yarn Sub, hoping I could find a less expensive substitute that was widely available. Instead there was only one replacement yarn that really matched the Nebula. It's a yarn that costs about $10 more a hank (yes, really!) and is just as hard to find as the first yarn and then I have to worry about color substitution to get the same color look.

Do these yarn makers sell their own yarn on their website? No, of course they don't. That would be too easy.

I wanted to pick up some Wonderland Yarns for a project and on their website they have a huge selection of awesome colors. I wanted to buy from them because they have it all right there with pictures. Instead, I have to start the yarn store odyssey and guess what? I can't find one store that carries the colors I planned to use in the pattern.

These are just two examples and I just started crocheting in January and Knitting in April. Either there's some tricks more experienced knitters/crocheters know on how to find yarn in the colors they want or I'm in for years of frustration.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Project Update

I finished my first knitted scarf. Mostly. I still have to block it, but that's it. My seaming didn't go real well and I couldn't undo it and redo without wrecking stuff, so I decided to call it a learning experience. There's a few other imperfections, but overall, I'm pleased with it.

And I participated in a Marly Bird Knit-A-Long that started at the beginning of May. The reason I decided to join is that Marly did videos for each section of the shawl walking people through how to do everything that the pattern called for. As someone brand new to knitting, this was a huge help. I learned so much from doing this and I'm so glad I participated.

This is section one. I think I ripped it out and started over at least a dozen times. Maybe more than that. It was frustrating, but I learned how to do the garter tab start to the shawl by the time I got the entire thing right.

This is part two of the shawl. The lace was so hard for me and I must have ripped this section out half a dozen times until I put lifelines between every section of lace so I wouldn't have to start all the way over if I messed up.

This is the third section. The color in the picture is off. The most accurate color is the second picture because the yarn is an aqua/turquoise and very pretty. I had trouble with the lace again and the row after it. Those two rows were ripped out many times, but I only had to start section three itself over once.

And here is the finished shawl! It still needs to be blocked, which in this case means spraying it with water and pinning it on a foam mat, but otherwise it's done. Yea!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

My Time in PT Purgatory

I mentioned the week before last that I had a needle stuck into my knee--that's how I roll on vacation. Along with the steroid injection, I was referred to physical therapy. Have you been to PT? OMG, they make you hurt. One of the guys at work said his father-in-law called them physical terrorists instead of physical therapists! After the way I felt the day after my second session, I have to admit that the nickname is dead-on accurate.

Session one wasn't that bad. Four exercises and I was supposed to do them at home twice a day. And I did. They took about half an hour, and while they left my leg muscles fatigued, the only real soreness I had was in my butt. Yes, you read that right. One of my exercises was to tighten my glutes and hold for 5 seconds. Three sets of ten.

Session two was the one that left me walking funny. My physical therapist added a few new exercises to my set. The two quad stretches were okay. What killed me (I think) was the one where I had to lift my leg all the way up, knee straight, and hold.

Then it got worse.

Same leg lift, but then cant the leg to the side. He had me stop when I made a grimace. He said, "That's the spot! I know when patients are in the right position when they make that face. Everyone makes that face."

There were a couple of other easy leg exercises done standing, but by then I was so fatigued I had to hang on to the bar.

I felt okay when I walked out of the building, but the next day, it hurt to sit, it hurt to stand, it hurt to walk. My program manager said that I looked like I was walking pretty gingerly. True that. Everything below my waist hurt and I learned I have muscles that I didn't know I had.

To close on a more serious note, I felt lucky when I left the area. I could do all the exercises and stretches even though I paid the price later. There were people in there struggling to do their exercises. There were people using canes and walkers and wearing splints. These people were all a lot worse off than I was/am. So yeah, my knee pain sucks, but I do know how fortunate I am.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy


Yes, I'm reviewing the original Guardians of the Galaxy movie. :-) And just in case it's necessary, I paid to rent this movie and received no compensation for this post.

I'm not much for superhero movies. About the only one I can remember liking is The Incredibles. I know people had been raving about how good Guardians was, but they were also telling me how awesome Captain America: Civil War was and I didn't like that movie at all. But the premise of Guardians intrigued me. I mean, alien abduction? Space adventure? I love that stuff!

Basically, a young boy watches his mother die from cancer in the hospital, runs outside and is abducted by aliens. That's the prologue part of the story. The main plot revolves around our earth-boy all grown up. Chris Pratt is Peter Quill who is now all grown up and totally hot. ;-) He's after an orb, but so are others, including a raccoon who has a tree for a sidekick, a green woman (Zoe Saldana as Gamora), and others.

All these people end up arrested and tossed into prison and they have to work together to escape, get the orb back, and ensure it doesn't fall into the hands of the bad guy. In prison, they pick up another member of their ragtag crew and become The Guardians of the Galaxy.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. The dialogue was snarky and fun, the adventure came fast and furious, and I loved how they used the music Peter had from Earth as a soundtrack for the film. With so many people after the same object, it was a bit like that old movie, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World where everyone was chasing after (I think) a bag of money.

I did have some problems with it. I know, huge shock. The characters could have been more fleshed out, especially Gamora. It seemed like she was just there to be the woman in the movie and wasn't as fully formed as Peter Quill or even the raccoon for heaven's sake! There was also the idea that some kind of relationship had formed/was forming between Gamora and Peter yet none of this was shown on screen and I found it difficult to believe it was anything real when it's just like, oh, yeah, I have feelings for you now.

So it was definitely better than most superhero movies for me, but not as good as The Incredibles. I'm giving it 3.25 stars out of 5 and calling it a pleasant enough way to spend a couple of hours.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


When I was in junior high school, I fell in love with the Beatles music. I have no clue why. They hadn't been a band in about forever by that point and my parents didn't listen to their songs. I don't remember seeing any of their movies, but somehow, somewhere I must have heard them.

I went to a Beatles conference in Minneapolis. I went to see a tribute band with Beatles lookalikes. I bought lots and lots of their albums. Maybe all of them--I can't remember at this point. And I listened to their music endlessly.

And then somewhere along the way, I drifted away from their music. I bought an album or two to stream, but other than that? I hadn't been listening much.

Fast forward to a week or so ago. I've been working to catch up on my podcasts--I got backed up when I was on vacation and still have a backlog--and I noticed an episode in my Slate Plus podcast feed about the band. It was called: Hit Parade: The Fab Four Sweep Edition. I'd listened to an earlier episode of Hit Parade and I'd really enjoyed it, so I queued this one up and loved it!

The episode talks about how the Beatles had the top 5 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 list--a feat that hasn't been repeated since then. How the only reason why it happened was because Capital records refused to distribute the band's music and other, smaller labels were doing it.

It was enough to get me to stream Beatles music again on my phone and I headed over to Audible to buy Dreaming the Beatles by Rob Sheffield. I'm not very far on this yet, but I'm finding this interesting as well. Enough so that I plan to use my next credit to pick up his Duran Duran audio book which has been sitting on my wish list for a while now.

Between the podcast and the audio book, I sort of wish I had been born in time to see the Beatles come to America and be part of the hysteria. On the other hand, I'm very happy to have missed the turbulent stretch of time that came later. And of course, things are always better looking backward than they actually were at the time. That's why nostalgia is such a big thing--we've forgotten all the negatives and only remember the positive. :-)

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Vacation Plans Go Awry

With a week off from work, I had a list of projects I wanted to get done around the house. Things that had been on the list for years, but had been neglected because I'd spent so much time in Minnesota helping my parents try to clean out their house. But that's another story. Anyway, we started on the office that first weekend. Then, on Monday, I had a doctor and dentist appointments, but that was one day. We'd pick up again on Tuesday.

Well, not quite. I've had knee issues all my life--okay, not quite, but I did see a doctor about my right knee for the first time when I was around 13, so most of my life. Since I've moved to Georgia, though, my knee issues have been getting worse and worse, and since December, my knee hasn't felt good at all.

I mentioned this to my doctor. She referred me to an orthopedist. Okay, one more appointment for the week. I was able to get in on Wednesday. And I was given an injection of steroids in my knee! And also referred to physical therapy for four weeks, twice a week. Sigh.

Then there was my dentist appointment where the hygienist discovered a cracked tooth. I knew what this meant because I'd had this happen before. Crown. And when the dentist came in, she agreed that it was a good idea to take care of this before the tooth broke. I've had a broken tooth and didn't want to go through that again, so it was decided.

I was lucky and they had an opening on Thursday. At 8am. Gah! But I took it because I didn't want to have to take more time off work.

So my vacation--which wasn't going to be fun to begin with--became a lot worse than expected. First, a needle in my knee, which didn't feel good for more than 24 hours after receiving it. And second, nearly two hours in the dentist's chair getting most of the crown work done. All that's left on that is the permanent crown.

My office remains a disaster.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

The One Where She Says, "Let's Try Knitting"

With crochet being a reasonable success, I said to myself, "Why don't you try knitting?"

First, let me remind you (or inform sporadic readers who might have missed my original confession) that I am probably the least crafty person you'll ever meet. My mom didn't knit or crochet or do needlepoint or anything like that and all my grandparents were dead before I was six, so there was no on in my family to show me how to do any of these things.

Second, I'll mention my previous attempts at craft-type things were all dismal failures. Knitting was particularly a memorable failure when I was in either junior high or high school. I can't remember which one, just that it didn't go well. The only thing I was worse at--we're talking complete failure here--was sewing.

So when I had the brainstorm to learn to crochet, I didn't expect it to be more than a lark. I chose crochet because I wanted to crochet the tops for kitchen towels so I could have the towel, color, and length I wanted, but I didn't expect to go much farther than that.

Needless to say, I was shocked with how much I enjoyed crochet. The chief benefit was that it helped me tremendously with my anxiety issues and my stress levels were off the charts by January when I took my first crochet lesson. Once I realized this wasn't one of my projects I was going to start and drop, I replaced my cheap hooks with good ones, bought a yarn valet and an yarn bowl, and started creating a stash of yarn.

But Patti, you're saying, what about knitting? This post is supposed to be knitting.

Two things happened that kind of got me going with knitting. The first was that as I was looking for crochet patterns, I'd find super cool patterns that were for knitting. If I couldn't bear to lose them, I'd save them, but I still didn't plan to ever knit myself. Sure, crochet was going well, but that's manipulating one stick. I was pretty sure I wasn't coordinated enough to do two sticks at the same time.

The second thing that happened was that I started a Facebook group for authors, editors, and other publishing-related people who knit or crochet. The group is overwhelmingly knitters and as they shared their work, the desire to try knitting again grew stronger.

I finally decided to give it a shot. After all, if I could crochet now--something I also failed at as a teen--maybe knitting would go better too. And I already had the yarn and assorted yarn things, so it would only be a matter of finding a class and buying a set or two of needles. The straight, metal 10" needles were under $5 so why not?

As it turns out, I enjoy knitting, too, and while I'm a failure at continental knitting--I was like a seal (the aquatic kind) trying to knit with two flippers--I stopped feeling lost when I switched to English style knitting.

I'm still a rank beginner, and I haven't finished my first scarf yet, but I decided to invest in interchangeable needles. I didn't get the real expensive ones, but good, solid, middle of the road needles. So far I've knitted, purled, and made lace. Oh, and when I started the Marly Bird Knit ALong, I learned to do garter tab. At first, it was hard, but after ripping my work out probably six times and starting over, I finally got that, too.

Here is the first half of my first scarf. I'm still working on the second half.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Office Rehab

My office has literally been a disaster since my stuff was moved to Georgia. I kept meaning to take care of that room, but meh. Talk about no fun at all. It's continued to get worse and worse because it's just too easy to dump more crap in there when it's already a mess. And then there comes the day where you absolutely have to tackle it.

Today was that day. (I'm writing this on a Saturday.) At least it was day one of what will be a multi-day project.

I was right--it wasn't fun. One of the things I had to do that I didn't like was get rid of my Smithsonian Magazines. I love Smithsonian Magazine! I literally read it cover to cover...when I had time to read it. That was part of the problem. Because I did read everything in it, it took me forever to get through an issue and then they started backing up. I moved at least two years worth of the magazine from Minnesota to Georgia. And never read them. It seemed sad to get rid of them, but what were the odds I was going to read magazines that were more than five years old? Exactly.

The other thing that cropped up was power cords for electronics. Which electronics? Well, that was the million dollar question. (And it still is a question.) Why the heck don't these companies put the name of the product on the damn power cord? I honestly have a ton of power cords that I don't dare get rid of, but have no idea what item they're for. Gah!

There were many little things I didn't want to get rid of: pins for winning writing contests, pins for my milestone company anniversaries; and ear buds. I kept buying ear buds because I thought I needed them, but no, I didn't. I have a million pairs of the things. Sigh.

And I didn't get rid of nearly enough stuff. I know this, but it's hard. The worst part is that there's still so much left to do in there. I was hoping to get it done in one day, but just couldn't. I guess this project rolls to tomorrow.