Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas as an adult

This comic made me laugh and think. Hover your mouse over the picture for a hidden comment bubble from the author.

Adults tend to have this view of Christmas. Every year we wish for the magic and joy of Christmases from our childhood. Instead, we get grouchy and bah humbug after cleaning the house, baking treats, buying presents for people who send wish lists after you've finished shopping, etc. There are a lot of negatives to this season, and adults usually end up concentrating on most of them. Yet, we keep doing the same "traditions" every year. It's like the definition of insanity: we keep doing the same things and hope for a different result. Maybe this year I'll get the X I always wanted. Maybe this year I'll get that old Christmas joy feeling back. The older I get, the harder it seems to be to recreate that pure joy I used to get as a kid. Given that my mother isn't going to come over and do everything for me, I don't expect that back. But some other parts would be nice. Gone are the times where I'd sit near the tree and read. I'm too busy now.

So why do we keep doing it? Why not throw everything aside and head to Hawaii? Are you afraid you'll miss that one year where it becomes magical again? I guess we hang on to these things because the glimmer of hope is still there for the Best Christmas Ever.

In the end, I think the secular part of Christmas is for the kids. They get the most joy and long-lasting memories. Since I don't have any kids, I can't share in that joy. If I were around my nephews more often, I would probably be more into it.

But no matter how much it makes logical sense to do so, I can't let go of my own traditions.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Since my grandparents passed away, my mother's side of the family makes a point of having a family get-together for Christmas. This year, the usual host has been busy with health issues on her husband's side of the family, and understandably can't host. No one else can or will step up to the plate, so it looks like there won't be a party this year. I think this will be the first year ever that I won't see them before Christmas.

When my grandparents were still alive, there was a lot of activity on that side of the family. We did a LOT together. Since they passed, events have been few and far between, not having the Grammy & Grampy glue to hold us together. That makes this Christmas party even more significant: it's one of the few times we do get together now.

I wish I could step up to the plate and host, but I have two problems: my house is small, and we're talking about 40 people. Second, my aunts do not like cats, and I have Romy. Had the usual host notified us sooner that she would be unable to host this year, we could have suggested an alternate venue. There are also some family politics involved that included people not wanting to suggest they take over the party this year for fear of angering the usual host.

My family, for many years, was the host of the party. My other grandparents, who lived behind us, were always included as well. Those were the "golden years": the happiest times burned in my brain. An incredible amount of work for my mother, who cooked until her arms fell off, but enjoyed hosting her family.

This is a tradition that I will really miss this year. I am very disappointed, but am making an effort to not be too whiny about it. I have family, friends, health, food, shelter. I'm lucky where many others are not. I will try to keep that in mind, and make plans to visit everyone on Boxing Day.

UPDATE 12/18: the party has been rescheduled for Boxing Day. Not ideal as others now have plans that can't be broken, but at least some of us can spend some time together. A few aunts and uncles came down for mass this morning and then we went to lunch, so I was able to exchange gifts and spend a short time with them before the big day.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Even if it is partially my fault,

I'm tired of dealing with you, asshole, and your asshole way of doing things. Wish I could punch you in the face.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

20 years in

20 years ago today, Mum, younger brother ("A"), and I went to Calais for the day. A started getting incredibly thirsty, and kept drinking and drinking and drinking. It was out of character for him, and when we got home, Mum took him to the hospital. A was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic.

As an 11 year old kid, being diagnosed a diabetic 2 days after Halloween is the highest level of Morissette irony, and my brother loved his candy. It was a bumpy road to get adjusted to that lifestyle at such a young age. He's gone through many trials and tribulations, added some extra diseases along the way, and has had numerous hospital stays, though none directly related to diabetes.

He's had some very positive experiences though. Joslin Diabetes Center is a world-class facility in Boston. They have done more for him than anyone around here, and A is probably at the level where he could teach others. We were so fortunate to have the money to send him there and get the testing and training to better manage his conditions. I wish that could be an option for everyone.

Mum has been instrumental in keeping A on track, her medical background helping immensely. Even now, he and she still discuss his various issues. Mum has spent years helping him learn to take his insulin, regulate his diet, keep records of his blood sugar, tend to him during his hospital stays... I can't possibly total all of the things she's done to help him along the way, but she's an integral part in why he's as healthy as he is today. I hope he fully realizes that.

I hope he can keep up-to-date on the islet transplant trials, and that eventually he may qualify. He was so disappointed when he was told he wasn't going to be part of the trial, but I have hope that they will expand over time.

I'm glad he's still around, and I love him.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's probably me that's the problem

Tonight was the pumpkin carving party -- my 9th. Every year I seem to push myself to make it as "perfect" as I can. I bake more, I decorate more, I clean more. This year I put in a crap-ton of effort: 2 straight out days of cleaning, baking, and setup, on top of the shopping, preparing, and decorating I've been doing all month. I enjoy it, but I wouldn't go to all this effort for just myself.

Based on the replies to my invitation, I figured I had about 20 people coming this year. Seemingly more than usual. That made me very happy, as well as concerned that I'd have enough snacks for everyone. I'm of the belief that if you throw a party where you tell people you're providing food, you do more than just chips in a bowl. So, I shopped and baked accordingly.

How many people actually showed up? 9. Those 9 people were quite happy to be here, but I couldn't help but be disappointed about the other 11 who were sick, had to back out for stated reasons, or just plain didn't show up or notify me. To top that off, the weather was particularly bad today, and that likely encouraged people to stay home.

I will grant you that I am a bit too focused on the people who weren't here vs the happy people who did come and enjoyed themselves. I'm not angry at anyone: shit happens, I get that. Maybe I just try to do too much, try to make it too special. Or maybe people just don't get how much work and effort I put into making this a fun event. Maybe if they knew that, they wouldn't just not show up.

The question is: do I put in less effort next time, knowing that I expect too much of people?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Materialism, School, Traffic, Reading, and Being in Pathetic physical condition

I wish I could stop comparing my material wealth with those around me. All it serves is to make me feel bad; it's not like the others know or care. I need to learn to be happy with what I have and thankful that I am as fortunate as I am. This is one of those life-long lessons that I may never master, but I need to keep trying. Material wealth is not important, and I need to get that through my head.

I really don't give a shit about kids going to school. If they actually learned grammar and how to read, and graduated as intelligent individuals, then maybe I'd give a crap. But most of them will grow up to be entitled-feeling drains on society. Hard to get excited when education is a farce; misguided goals and no money.

[My comment above was supposed to mean that it's a farce to think the same standard of education can be delivered with fewer & fewer resources, and the misguided goals meaning spelling, grammar, and literacy falling by the wayside. It was not supposed to imply that teachers suck.]

I do care that school will add traffic to an already congested roadway and will force me to get up before dawn to eventually get to work on time. Construction continues on the bridge I take daily, with huge inefficiencies in traffic management. "Let's close an exit and then not change the traffic light pattern at the 2nd exit to account for an increase in the number of cars!" "Let's force cars to line up for over a mile in single-file rather than use both lanes to the merge point!" "While the bridge is under construction, let's also fix this overpass and add to the congestion, but make sure you don't work past 4pm!" "Let's ignore the fact that the speed limit is reduced to 70 near the overpass construction even when no one is there working, how's that for efficiency!" The city and province are horrible at traffic management. I guess they figure we "don't have much traffic" so why would we need to make alterations? They end up making things worse. There are still few traffic lights in our city with sensors. "Too expensive." I'm sure things are looking really nice in our new Police Palace though.

My reading tastes are changing. Probably a result of being in a couple of book clubs. I'm enjoying historical fiction more lately. I'm fascinated by the past and what it was like to live in those times. I often wish I could just step into the past for a visit, to see in-person what things looked like. I wouldn't want that to be my daily reality, but it would be very interesting to see.

I've started back on a goal of 10000 steps a day. Haven't managed 100% of days, but on the days where I've made an effort, I'm succeeding. Walking doesn't do a whole lot for weight loss, but I am at least getting some form of exercise and not sitting on the couch all the time. Not that you'd know it after my 2-day muscle burn from Saturday night candlepin bowling. It's pretty sad when I bowl for a couple of hours and then it takes at least 2 days before my thighs feel like they're not screaming every time I go up or down stairs.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Flight stress, perfectionism, and other ideas

I spent roughly 12h this week deciphering, planning, choosing options, and finally booking flights for an upcoming trip to the US. I had a 15% off coupon which expired Monday. Though part of this trip is work-related, I thought I'd save both me and work some money and perhaps earn some brownie points. Given the expiry date, I spent most of those hours on Monday trying to get a combination of flights that would work for us.

Problem #1: Coupon was no good on a multi-city flight. We need to leave home, fly to Eastern US, then to the West coast, then home. Air Canada doesn't fly between points in the US, so that meant I had to use the multi-city option, or book two one-way flights. Either way, I would have only been able to use the coupon once.

Problem #2: After deciding to split it into two one-way flights in order to use the coupon, and applying the coupon to my order, Air Canada removed the option to purchase a lounge pass for our 3h stopover in Toronto. If I removed the coupon, the lounge pass option came back. I picked up the phone and called to ask why, again, they won't take my money. After being on hold for a while I gave up. The coupon was only going to save me $100 total and by 11pm Monday night I had had enough and it wasn't worth it anymore.

Problem #3: Between Monday and Wednesday, one of the flight legs went up $150 per person. I not only gave up the $100 coupon savings, but also increase the overall cost by $300. At this point, I was ready to smash something. The pre-dawn flight was still at the lesser rate, as was the late-night flight, but I wanted to go in the middle of the day, at a reasonable hour, on a Sunday. Waiting two days to plan appropriately and determine other options equaled punishment by having to pay a lot more than anticipated.

Problem #4: Air Canada seems to force me into making snap decisions if I want to save money. "Grab it when you see it" is not something I can usually do. My husband thinks I take too much time and effort into getting the perfect/right answer, and there is some truth to that, but read the fine print. Ticket change fees have now doubled and are $150 per person. If I hadn't taken the time to make sure we got the exact flights we needed, I ran the risk of paying another $300 to make changes. $300 was the cost of flying from SoCal to home, so that's a pretty significant chunk.

Air travel has become a stress-inducing activity. It's difficult to book what you want, when you want, for a reasonable price. It has gotten to the point where Aeroplan (Air Canada's flight reward program) has become so limited that it's not worth my time to check for a points flight if I have any kind of schedule to adhere to. Since I'm not retired nor do I own my own business, I have a limited amount of vacation time and have to fly after work/on weekends.

We have a wedding to attend in mid-January. I thought this would be an easy time to fly, points should be available since it's after Christmas and a quiet time. My plan was to leave Friday night after work, and return home Sunday afternoon. Checking Aeroplan yielded some of the worst options I've ever seen. The only option for the times I specified was from SJ->Halifax (4h drive from home)->Moncton (1.5h drive from home)->overnight Moncton-Montreal. There was obviously no human logic component to these flight choices. Why would anyone want to fly to Halifax, back to NB, stay overnight 1.5h away, and then get up before dawn the next morning to go to Montreal? If I thought it would do any good, I'd call Aeroplan and complain that that should not be an available option. So in the end, for a short-haul flight, normally 15000 points per ticket, the only decent options available cost 50000 points per ticket. I only have 41000 points right now.

It's hard to get a deal when you have a set schedule, and yet I keep trying. I guess I should value my time and stress levels more. I'm also not sure why I bust my ass trying to get Aeroplan points when I can never use them for actual travel.

I have Air Miles, which is a different loyalty program, and almost enough to get two flights to Montreal in January. I would have to pay a small fee to top up, but can probably get us two tickets for $400. I think I need to start putting more effort into Air Miles and less into Aeroplan.

Thursday, August 04, 2011


I've been staring at this list of 130+ software issues for 3 days now. In some cases, literally just staring. Most of these have been outstanding for over 2 years. We've been promised changes, but yet here I still am with pretty much the same list. It's been a very lethargic week for me, I barely feel like typing keys. It's no wonder given that we continue to have the same problems and never see any real resolutions.

I've decided it's time to stop being Ms. Nice Girl and to make sure the writing is on the wall. If we decide to quit this software, we have to give a year's notice that we're leaving. I think I'd like to make sure the Big Cheese states that next week during the software company visit.

I'm tired. This software is draining me mentally and physically, and if significant changes aren't going to be made, then I don't want to devote my energy to it anymore. If I could see that good things were coming, that a couple of upgrades would solve the majority of our problems, then maybe I'd be excited and optimistic. I passed that point a while ago.

I still don't have the upgrade I was promised last September. I only recently got over some very large problems with a seemingly minor upgrade. This doesn't make me excited to move forward, even though the changes in the new version do look positive.

I thought the management changes would help the software become better. It seems this company has continued to employ the wrong people. Despite laying off quality long-tenured staff, they managed to keep the primary development and programming people who continue to keep the product mired in "why would we change that" land. I guess no one else complains, or complains enough, but I know we can't be the only company experiencing certain problems.

If you sell a physical product, inventory is one of, if not the most, important aspect of point-of-sale software. You simply must know how much of something you have so you know what you can sell. No sales = no money. Simple concept. Yet I have continued to express how unreliable the inventory system is, how much better their other software is/was at inventory, and have suggested they look to that to solve what I think is the most important issue. I keep talking to a brick wall, because the development staff are too close to the product to admit that it was crap, and it's based on a product that has been crap for over 20 years.

I'm really feeling lost this week. I feel like I have no hope. Since I don't have children and not much in the way of extracurricular activities, work is a large part of my life. So this is dragging me down a lot more than it would other people. I just want to curl up in a ball and escape from it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

No celebrating here, apparently

I've been working very hard on trying to fix a software issue. It's been 2.5 months and I'm exhausted and very close to being burnt out. I had a conference call today with the right person at the right time, and the small changes that were made fixed the problem. I asked my users to log out and back in, and tell me how it was. Out of approximately 200 users, I've had one phone call and 3 email replies. So 4 people cared about it enough to tell me it was better.

IT is a thankless job. I wasn't expecting praise; it technically wasn't me who fixed it. I did expect those who constantly complained about how slow it was to at least take a minute to tell me it was better. Guess I overestimated them.

I feel like I'm celebrating alone, and that puts a damper on what I feel is a major accomplishment. If no one cares enough to tell me, then why have I been busting my ass for the past 2 months trying to get it fixed?

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


I'm headed to a luncheon today for our hospital's Auxiliary association. Last year I felt underdressed in my usual casual pants and tops. Having not worked uptown in years, I ditched my suits for clothes more suitable to crawling around on the floor fixing PCs. My old suits were donated, either being outdated or too small. This left me with no suits, and after my grandfather's death, scrambling to find something to wear. Jenn helped me find a suit then, at a great price, on very short notice. In Florida this spring, she again found me a great deal on a gray suit for me to add to my navy suit. So gray-suited I went to work today, along with my new hooded trenchcoat -- a purchase I made after standing in freezing cold wet weather at the top of a hill for my uncle's funeral. My husband found that coat for me, a good blend of stylish but practical. Not quite as dressy as my old coat, but I will get more use out of it.

The only problem I'm having today is my usual problem: shoes.

Quite a while ago, I bought a pair of black leather pumps with a patterned patent toe, simple but not plain, and not too likely to be dated. At the time of trying them on, I thought my usual size seemed too short, so I went up a 1/2 size. I now know that was a poor choice. As a result, these shoes are just a bit loose because the leather has stretched, and they always hurt my feet. I keep them and use them because I haven't been able to find anything better, and when I do wear them, it's usually for such a limited time that I can deal with the discomfort.

I've been on a quest to find a replacement for these shoes. The only pair of basic black pumps I've found recently are Stuart Weitzman pumps, which although they come in my size, are often too high, too expensive, or both. "Chicpump" is a nice shoe, not as appealing to me as my current shoe, but would do as a replacement. At this point, I'd probably pay the exorbitant $300, but the only choice is suede, which is utterly useless when you live in a wet climate. I've ordered and tried other pairs, so far no luck. My choices are limited and if I have to spend $200-300 on shoes, I'd better damn well like them enough to keep them for years.

My dilemma this morning, as I was getting ready to leave for work, is that I don't have a comfortable shoe that goes with a suit to wear for the rest of the workday. I don't like driving in heels, and I do not have any flat black leather shoes: another quest I have been on for a while. There are fewer choices in flats, being not as popular as heels. Any flats I find seem to always have a damn bow on them. I don't want bows. What's the deal with bows? Others aren't dressy, have an open-toe so aren't all-season, or some other ugly attribute. And this is after expanding my search to sizes that aren't really going to fit me. I ended up wearing shoes that aren't really meant to be worn with a skirt, but I can't torture my feet all day.

The quest for shoes is a difficult one when you don't have normal feet.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


You don't fully realize how pathetically annoying you were after a big break-up until you start seeing the tweets of someone who obviously just broke up with their significant other. You're 19, it's not the end of the world, give it a rest.

To make up for being hypocritical, I would now like to apologize for 2004. :D

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Getting older and not more valuable

Today is my husband's 40th birthday. (Happy birthday, honey.) My mother, upon learning this, commented that we [her children & their spouses] are all getting old.

My husband was watching a cartoon TV show where there was a flashback to the '60s and I asked if the '60s characters were the main characters' parents. He said, "grandparents". I did the math, and yeah, I guess that's right.

Not sure why, but I seem to be having a hard time remembering that I'm not the youngest adult generation out there anymore. I have relatively little responsibilities compared to my peers with kids, so maybe that is partly why. I am in good health, and have had some minor physical changes, but overall I'm pretty much the same.

In a culture that promotes youth and treats age like a disease, it's hard to get excited about getting older. It seems the greater your age, the less relevant you are in the eyes of today's North American society. So while I don't care that my age is x, and shouldn't care what anyone else thinks either, I know the irrelevancy train is going to slam into me sooner or later.

There are a lot of birthday cards with "getting older" jokes, but not a lot of "young & stupid". How about more of those, because there are some truly stupid young people out there today. I was careful not to get "over the hill" messages included in John's birthday party tonight. I think that is a negative and mean-spirited message that promotes our youth-based culture.

I wish we could trade in this part of our society for one which values its elders. Maybe then getting older wouldn't be a joke.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Life: boring & "real"

So far this year I've read 3 biographies: one of Cleopatra, an autobiography of Agatha Christie, and am in the middle of an autobiography of Tim Rice. Reading biographies isn't a usual choice for me, but as I grow older, I find that my literary choices are changing*.

Reading biographies is an interesting view into someone's life, but also an easy way to see how dull your life can be in comparison, and how bad your memory is for past events (provided you don't keep a diary or journal). I could pretty much sum up my life thus far into a few bullet points:

Did well in school academically
Got a university degree
Failed CA
Had a couple of serious relationships
Had 2 jobs: one in accounting and one in IT
Got married
Adopted a cat

That's pretty much it. I can flesh out some of those topics some more, but it wouldn't be the subject of a book that anyone would care to read.

This is, in part, why I can't understand the viability of the Real Housewives TV series, Jersey Shore, The Hills, or any other slice-of-life "reality" TV show. It's obvious that the "events" which happen to these people are fictional, because otherwise they'd be as boring as me. Who watches these shows? Is life so bad for you that you have to live vicariously through fictional characters? I don't feel the need to supplement my life by watching fake life pretending to be real. I'm growing increasingly tired of seeing episode recaps of these shows on websites, I skip past them as fast as possible.

The truth is that most of us aren't all that special. When today's parents attempt to brag about their child reading at an earlier-than-average age, or walking sooner than most, etc., I can't help but chuckle a bit. Your kid probably isn't anything special, and lots of kids learned to do those things early (my mother says I read her the obits when I was 4). I will admit, I am not a parent, and if I was, I'd probably brag right along with the rest of them.

I was a fan of reality TV when it began. It was fun at first, but I grew out of it. I wish the rest of America would do the same.

*Not that I intend to make a habit out of reading biographies, as I can't say I've loved what I've read to date. Jury is still out on the third, but it's the best so far.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Letting the past come back to haunt me

There was a bright, shining moment where I thought I had a shot.

“It’s an IT job. In L.A. At Warner Brothers,” he said. “They’re looking for someone with 10 years of IT experience and accounting background, preferably a CPA.” I said, “Hunh. Interesting. Though I am not a CPA, and only mostly a CA,” and chewed it around in my head some more. “It’s in L.A.,” he repeated as I was about to leave. “At Warner Brothers. It may be worth putting in a resume, at least.” “Send me the link to my home IM and I’ll look at it tonight,” I said. I’m not actively in the market to move us back to SoCal, but it may be worth dusting off the resume and seeing how far I could get. If nothing else, it could be a small ego boost, something I could use right now in my career life. I left for work, starting to feel like maybe there was something else out there for me. Something at the home of Looney Tunes AND I’d be qualified to do. That I might be desirable to a company like that seemed a bit hard to fathom, but exciting and full of possibilities.

I came home that night and read the job posting, realizing that I should have left the casual conversation at the casual level. The posting was not for an IT manager with accounting background, but for an IT auditor. As I read through the qualifications, it hit me like a ton of bricks: they want the person I thought I was going to be. The girl who passed her CA and had been planning to go forward and get a CISA and be an IT auditor. Had things gone as I’d hoped back then, I’d be well established in that vein by now, and would likely have an excellent shot at attaining this job. Reading through this posting was like being in an alternate universe and going back in time all at once. My hopes fell, and I crashed back down to the ground. All the old feelings of hurt, failure, plans gone awry came rushing back like it was yesterday. “They want an IT Auditor,” I said. “And I am not an IT Auditor.”

I still have the same emotions surrounding it. Anger over not being able to pass the finals, twice, seemingly no matter what I do. Frustration over having put so much personal time into a 100% pass-fail career. Embarrassment over the realization that after spending 3+ years after university studying the subject, I still had no idea what I was talking about: a realization that came when I re-read my exam answers. How can a person who spent 16 years at or near the top of her class suddenly fail repeatedly? Aren’t you supposed to get what you want if you work hard enough? What that experience taught me is that no matter how hard you work, it does not guarantee success. I also learned that you can’t do whatever you want; some people are just not cut out for certain things. I saw many unworthy people pass, and many worthy people struggle.

I still have no regrets over quitting after 2 attempts. It was the right decision. I really didn’t belong there, I wasn’t good at it, and it was time to stop spinning my wheels. What I haven’t been able to overcome are the emotions attached to the process. The nerve is still very raw, as evidenced by my reaction to reading that job posting. I’m left with the reminder of failure, and of feeling dumb for the first time in my life. Simultaneously, I am also dealing with auditors at work. As I type this, one auditor emailed to request a conference call, and another is waiting on me to produce reports. These are the last people I really want to talk with right now.

There are comments I'd like to make about my current job/career, which is where I ran to when I escaped public accounting. I'm reluctant to post them here, though, because I suspect there may be people reading this who could use the information to their advantage and my disadvantage. I won't give them that satisfaction, nor myself the hassle.

It is a common statement that life is what happens while you're making plans. Things don't always turn out the way you hope or dream they will. I've come to the point where I'm ok with giving up that career path, not really being convinced it was truly "my" path. But that doesn't mean I'm over the feelings attached to my attempt. It may not be a constructive use of my time, but that's my prerogative. I don't focus on it very often anymore, but it does creep up now & then, as with this job posting. The longer time goes on, the more I'm able to let it go. As of right now, I still need more time.


I realized from a friend's comment that I had left a few things hanging on here, so I thought I'd better update.

My brother was declined for the trial islet treatment. Unfortunately, they strung him along. They should have been up-front in stating what they were looking for (consistently low blood sugar) instead of allowing him to start tracking his status and get his hopes up. He received the news that he was declined just before Christmas, so that didn't make for the greatest of holidays for him.

A couple of weeks ago, he started having pain in his abdomen. He then went to the ER the next morning, was admitted to the hospital, and they eventually figured out he had appendicitis. Given his other medical conditions, it wasn't the easy diagnosis it is with most people. He had surgery and is now recovering, having gone back to work this week and got the staples removed from the incision. The appendix was indeed rotten, so thankfully they got it out before it ruptured. Still hoping there are no post-op complications, or that something in one of his other health issues doesn't get stirred up by this.

We've managed to put some money aside from John's work for our upcoming vacation as well as various projects. I think we are finally able to go toilet shopping. The toilet I purchased in 2008, just prior to John moving in, has proved to be a piece of crap (no pun intended). It's defective, but I didn't really click in that there was a warranty on it until after it expired. The defective aspect is a larger-than-normal hole where the toilet water enters the bowl, leading to water spitting out of the bowl and hitting the seat and sometimes the wall. We have to raise the toilet seat, flush it, and then lower the seat in order for the seat not to be wet. In addition, the toilet is just sluggish and never seems to flush everything down without holding the button, which I don't think should be necessary. Last time I went to Home Depot. This time we plan on going to an actual plumbing supply store, and talking to someone who knows the products they sell. We'll pay more, but that's fine as long as I get a good toilet that will last and work properly.

I haven't talked much about Romy on this blog, more out of lack of time. I wasn't sure how I would like having a cat, but I think overall I'm very glad he's around. I wish he would learn not to put holes in my clothing by hooking his claws in and then tearing the clothes as he tries to extract himself, but I try to remember not to pick him up while wearing work clothes. This week I was unsuccessful at that, and he left a hole in my sweater. I salvaged it, but I wish he'd learn to retract his claws before trying to get away. I have been disappointed lately at how often Romy is curling up with John on the couch. I would like him to do that with me as well, but it happens much less frequently. I'm the person who isn't around all the time, and John is a cat person, so Romy goes to him more than me. Romy isn't the cuddly lap cat I'd hoped he'd be, and people keep telling me he will grow more like that as he gets older, but I'm impatient. Thankfully tonight he did decide that he wanted to come up on the couch with me for 10 minutes. I've been looking at the pictures of a couple of cats at the shelter, wondering if they'd be more cuddly with me, but I'm just not sure that's fair to Romy. It's his house, and I'm not sure he really wants a cat buddy invading his territory. What I may do instead is donate a spaying to the two cats I've been looking at, and perhaps that will help them get adopted. In all likelihood, those cats wouldn't want me anyway. Romy is the only cat so far who seemed to indicate he liked me for more than a reason to get out of his cage.

We've been having some bad recipe failures lately, so I started a photo collection of dinner failures on Facebook. I'm a decent cook, and a better baker. John is a good cook. But it seems that whenever we go outside our comfort zone and try a new recipe, it doesn't end up tasting very good, or looking very good, or both. It's a way of dealing with the disappointment.

After some unsuccessful trips to Michaels, I went online and purchased the yarn I needed for John's scarf. I have yet to start it, but I hope to cast on this weekend. It would be nice if I actually finished it before the end of winter. No luck yet with yarn for a scarf of my own, but that's not as important.

Our trip to Florida is coming sooner than I anticipate. It didn't strike me until a short time ago that this vacation will actually be 2 weeks out of the office. I intended to take a week, but with the flights we got and needing to be there before and after our friends, it resulted in 2 weeks away. It will be nice, but I'm afraid I won't get enough done before I leave, and I'm afraid I'll like vacation too much and won't want to go back. The dangers of time off. It's almost better not to bother with it. Almost.

I've started using sites like Groupon to see what deals I can get online, and look for deals in places we may be headed to on vacation. So far I've purchased a $20 Amazon gift card for $10, a $20 voucher for Bath & Body Works for $10, and a $40 manicure for $20. I used the Amazon gift card toward the purchase of a Kindle for myself (stole John's too many times since Christmas). The Bath & Body Works voucher was combined with a 7 for $20 sale on soap which I ordered my favorite scents no longer available in-store. The manicure was a great surprise because I had just booked an appointment for a week prior to our vacation. As we get closer to a trip home to SoCal, I'll pay more attention to the getaways there. I've seen a couple of great deals, but that's something we'd need to plan ahead for.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Return to knitting

Winter is back in full-force, and after a 10 month hiatus, I decided to pick up the needles again. My husband and I both want specific types of scarves, so why not make them? I seem to be having some difficulty getting started, and not from lack of trying.

My husband has been commenting for a while that he wants a specific design of scarf, and I keep saying that I need him to accompany me to the store and pick the yarn. On Sunday, we managed to be in the right place at the right time to get that done. Unfortunately, for the pattern he wants, we didn't pick up enough yarn. We discovered the pattern after visting the store; I had been intending to wing it. Coincidentally, the yarn company's free patterns included one that is almost exactly what he wants. I thought this was a good sign that I was on the right track to knitting something that might work out for a change.

Back to Michaels I went today on my lunch hour. I'm not sure where the problem lies with yarn labels: do the manufacturers not make them strong enough, or do people just manhandle them in the store? Either way, I couldn't find a matching dye lot, and had to return the ball I previously purchased. I got a rain check to come back and get the two balls, but who knows when that will be in stock. I finally have some motivation to start knitting again and am stymied by this.

Obstacle #2: I like some needles and dislike others. My local yarn store carries a few different brands of needles, but last year I noticed they seemed to be ordering less of the kind I liked, and more of the kind I didn't. I thought perhaps they were phasing out that brand. Today I called the store, before trudging uptown to waste my time, to see if they still had them. A very unhelpful person answered the phone and didn't understand my clear statement of "Do you carry SRK bamboo needles" and proceeded to tell me, in an annoyed tone, "We carry Clover". Well, I can get Clover at Michaels for 40% off with coupon, and I don't like Clover to begin with, so I guess I'll have to source the SRK elsewhere. I emailed the company and asked if they had any online vendors since my local store stopped carrying them. The manufacturer told me the flagship store had placed a large needle order just last week. Well. Thanks for nothing. So I guess I have a couple of options: trudge uptown and talk to someone in person, or just drive out of town to the flagship store and speak to people who actually want to help me.

I seem to have an aversion to knitting with expensive yarn, I tend to screw up and get frustrated about "wasting money", so I generally try to stick with Michaels because I can either catch a sale or use a coupon. I picked out a silk bamboo for my own scarf, and am going to do a simple rib pattern. I want it to be basic black and uncomplicated, but a smaller knit, not chunky. I will need probably 6 balls for this project, and reg price is $6. Luckily there is a 25% off sale Saturday morning at Michaels, so perhaps I can get out there in time to find 6 matching dye lots.

I want to make some progress on something, but by the time I get the materials, I may lose my motivation. I guess I'll start another dish cloth in the meantime.