Friday, September 29, 2006

Hanging by a thread

It galls me no end to see the awful state of the sale racks at Old N*avy. Really it does. First, it is an abomination of clothing. How insulting for those articles of cotton, cotton/linen/spandex, cotton/polyester to be subjected to in the name of some careless soul looking for a deal in her size. How hard is it, I ask you, to put things back where you found them, to scoop a fallen shoulder back up to the supportive arm of a hanger? Is your time more precious than that flimsy, cotton sleeveless peasant blouse in off white? I think not.

Next up is where are all the sale people who wander aimlessly and cannot be bothered to help you. Perhaps they could better serve you, and spill forth less contempt when you ask for a size 14 if they actually straightened those damn racks.

However the most amazing thing is the lack of respect by the customers of the clothing, of the staff, of the luxury of shopping at all. Now I realize I am one of those shoppers but in my defense I will explain how I came to find myself at the Old N*vy in the Bay Shops of Emeryville. Compliments of a friend (the amazing Lisa G who is blogless) TGF has developed an addiction to slickd* While browsing the site, as she is wont to do for hours at a time of late, she found that the N*vy was having an additional 50% off their clearance merchandise. Well, even nickel scrapping but fashion conscious consumers such as ourselves could not blithely ignore such potential deals. No it was not possible for us to deny the call from the sirens of sales.

Quickly moving past the incoming fall clothing (mostly browns and grays, what is that about anyway?) but not so quickly as to miss any outstanding items of clothing to drape upon ourselves we moved swiftly to the sale section. And that my dear readers where I found myself shocked, just shocked at the state of those racks, it was horrendous. I did find some cute little things in the sales racks, though I tried on many more things than I bought. Next up, as we were on a bit of a mission as well since we were going to be going to Broadway to see A Chorus Line the third cute butt from right is my cousin!) which while still officially in previews is still going to the theatre nonetheless and TGF was looking for appropriate garb. (She did find a pair of pants at the N*vy which looked fantabulous in the rear, but she was looking for something to wear on top.)

We trudged on through some other stores, finally settling at AnnTaylor’s Loft. Now this is a distinctly more upscale environment that where we were but again the sale racks where a sight to behold, albeit not as atrocious. While dismayed at the state of affair at the N*vy I wasn’t surprised and have in fact noticed this before, but I was slightly appalled at ATL given the nature of the store. Items seemed a bit tumbled together without a lot of thought or care being given to have the same pair of pants all in one area. Very frustrating. Despite all of this I did find some delicious pants at 50% off. In black of course.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunny would be pleased

You Should Be A Poet

You craft words well, in creative and unexpected ways.
And you have a great talent for evoking beautiful imagery...
Or describing the most intense heartbreak ever.
You're already naturally a poet, even if you've never written a poem.

I'm less evil than Louisana Swamp Rat?

You Are 38% Evil

A bit of evil lurks in your heart, but you hide it well.
In some ways, you are the most dangerous kind of evil.

I'm not sure how that could be? LSR seems to me to be one of the best people I know, and surely I am more evil than her.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Pictorial Entry

Finally, after way too long The Girl Friend and I went to a farmers' market, specifically the Jack London version, on Sunday, where she finally fulfilled her longing (and mine) for fried green tomatoes. Once home I went to place them in a bowl and on the buffet was a vintage fiestaware bowl - the same colour. It begged for a photograph. I actually took about a dozen, which I have edited down to about four. Be grateful I am only posting one.

The twins (as opposed to the triplets -who are not actually related - Gemma, Atticus, & Elliott) have grown so much.

Marcel starts to purr if you just look at him. He is getting healthy, he still had the runs when we got home and a second run on meds seems to have cleared it up, finally. Marcel is playful and lately Gemma has taken a liking to him exhibited by grooming behaviors. Really who could resist a face like that, I ask you?

Saana is a fiesty and affectionate little spitfire. When told no, she has a habit of looking you in the face, lifting a little paw and patting your mouth. Okay, actually she only does this to TGF. She like to cuddle up to all the cats, so far Gemma is refusing, Elliott allows her to lean into him.

I haven't posted too many photo
s of Elliott because, well, he's usually missing in action. Since we came home he has been hanging out a lot more, which is really nice. I love the sunlight on his fur in this one.

Wyatt and his best friend, Piccolo have resumed their activities playing in the fields and water ways of the two
parks we take them to daily. So I will leave you a photo of them having fun.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Putting one foot in front of the other

That is how I am proceeding with school. Actually there has been progress. No really.

I turned in a lousy (IMNSHO) draft of the last paper for the research course (I will not say how long this has been lingering) just the other day. Again, no really. I tried a new approach and wrote to some colleagues who had actually finished this course to ask their opinion on my paper. "You are overwriting this thing" was the common reply. No really? Hm, never would have suspected that, now would you? With any luck I will only have to rewrite the blessed thing 3 more times to finish the course.

Yet another long lingering class will be finished soon as well. Yesterday I wrote to the professor, who no doubt does not remember me at all because it's been so long, suggesting that I had just these three assignments still due. I did imply that perhaps there were others. No, really! He seemed fine with my assessment. I have already half written one of them.

Once those are done, I will write the last paper for Developmental Psychology. Thanks to my dear sweet buddy Scott (yes, like most "mysp@ce" pages it's painful to read, go to his blog entries. Yes he's odd but that's why I love him so bad) have a lead for a primary source to read and quote liberally from. He and I have struck a deal to cajole, nuture, and harp on each other to get the hell out of Saybrook.
This is what he wrote me:

Proposal: You and I work together to keep ourselves engaged, productive, focused.

Because: More than anyone else, it seems that you and I will be humans in the way that an MFT program could only hope to evolve us with or without an education. We are poster children for humanistic/transpersonal ways of being present.

However: this awareness and presence doesn't keep us connected to the relative mindless drudgery of some of the classes.

(I think my hit the fan moment was when I realized that all the love and effort I was putting into the work wasn't going to budge the world. Not budge it. I can have a bigger impact in the Walmart check out line.)

How can one refuse or ignore such an offer. I do think knowing he is in this with me has helped me move a bit through the sludge of this work. I am not sure if he will graduate in January or June but even if it is January, I know I can count on his support through the spring semester to get me out the other side.

In speaking with Sunny today, she assured me that she could have been done with her Ph.D (remember I am only doing a Masters with no thesis, only a project or an oral exam) "so much sooner, if I hadn't had dissertation block". Yeah, I'm so sure. Remember folks she got pregnant with me during her undergrad work, had a second pregnancy that resulted in a neonatal death but still graduated phi beta kappa, went on to finish a masters and doctoral degree before I was 9 (not sure of the exact timing but I'm sure I was no older than 9 at the most). 9 frigging years old. Block my ass. However, she was incredibly supportive, told me how lucky I was to have a supportive partner who understood what I was doing, that people loved me, how great (not that she really knows but she's a mom) I did with my client, etc. etc. Oh, and she got a post-doc Woodrow Wilson Fellowship or something like that - she got to go the England for like six weeks one summer. Yeah, no pressure. Oh, yes, nothing like a role model for academic excellence you can never achieve.

Where was I? Oh yes, so I have this killer, as in kill me now, plan, to finish two years of work in one. Okay maybe a little less than that since within three weeks or so I should have four completed classes. Yes four because I actually received credit for a class in the semester I took it! No really. Okay so three semesters of coursework in two. So totally doable, right? Work with me people, lie if you have to.

Okay, need to finish the "Appreciative Inquiry" paper tonight! Then I need to borrow a cassette player (Jennie, do you have one?) to work on the second. After that I need to interview someone from a different cultural background to really try to inhabit their experience, their point of view. I really need to think about who to interview. Even in casually pondering this right now, I feel as though I mostly surround myself with folks who are like me, but that's not really true. I suppose it is true in some ways, so it's easy to make a list of who not to interview. Ruth is no for sure. Hm, maybe Roger the Neighbor? Maybe my former client's mother? Okay, that's a task for another day, clearly. First things first finish the damn Inquiry Paper.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Girl Friend (TGF) would SO not agree

You Are 36% Control Freak

You have achieved the perfect balance of control and letting go.
You tend to roll with whatever life brings, but you never get complacent.

Yeah, it's true

You Communicate With Your Body

This isn't as bad as it sounds, it just means that you're a "touchy-feely" person.
You need a lot of affection in your life. And for you, this means both giving and receiving little touches.
Warm hearted, you bond with people easily. In fact, you often feel a little sad when you're not in the company of others.
A little moody, you tend to be controlled by your emotions. But a bit hug always comforts you!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Web that Has Many Weavers * (and Knitter and Spinners)

Yes, that WEBS. On the Monday that we were driving up to Maine, we stopped there. Briefly. How can one possibly be brief there? To say I was overwhelmed, is, well, an understatement. My head swirled as I went up and down aisles and criss-crossed the store. Oh my! I realized that there was no way I could make anything resembling a decision in the 15-20 minutes I had. Before leaving I stopped at the counter to ask about using the restroom. Well the restroom is through these doors marked "Warehouse". OMG! On the way I out, I asked as casually as possible if the "warehouse" was open to customers. I think I needed to grab at the counter to keep standing when the woman said yes. In summary, I walked away empty handed but determined to spend more time when I returned to Northampton after camp.

After the debacle that was returning the car in Portland, we then had another travel farce trying to find the HelMart in Auburn, which we had been to the year before. Driving up and down that damn Hotel Road, including through Auburn into Lewiston (FFS!), we headed back to the camp, stopping at a dinky Chinese restaurant. This proved most successful because it was now roughly 2pm and all we had consumed was coffee through this misadventure and because the hostess gave us more excellent directions to the place we sought. However since I hadn't bought any yarn the day before and I was thoroughly fried I searched out cheap yarn. Hey, it's better for my heart and hips that candy! I left HelMart with L*on's Brand Homespun in Grape & Colonial (a very delicious blue), Bernat Boa in Emu colourway, and Bernat Eye Lash in Glam colourway. I don't usually buy "novelty" yarn but they were really cheap and rather fun for what they were. I have no idea what I will do with them. Already the Grape has made hat and I am working on my first mittens - this set will get shipped to Adrienne, who adores purple unreasonably so, and who puts me (and now TGF) up every summer on the bookend times of camp.

Finally the day before "The Incredible True Adventures of Two Women Trying to Get Home" I returned to Webs. A primary mission was to spend Jennie's $20 on some yarn, ideally yarn that she didn't get to see in real life often. This meant no Cascade, Plymouth, Lorna's Laces, Rowans, Berroco, Debbie Bliss, Elsebeth Lavold, Jo Sharp, Karabella (isn't the top on the opening page beautiful?) and Southwest Trading Company, to name but a few of the fairly easy access yarns in our area. Plus I wanted to get her enough that she could actually make something with it. After much debate, touching, and even smelling many skeins, balls, and hanks a decision was finally reached! 5 skeins Valley Yarns Stockbridge in Dark Green! 50% superfine alpaca and 50% wool - very soft. In addition I got each of us a WPI Tool Kit and Ann Budd's Handy Yarn Requirement cheat sheet (actually it's a leaflet).

So what did I get for myself? A shameful lack of yarn, but it's so hard to decide and though I was there for over an hour, it twasn't long enough and my budget was small and without a number of specific projects and and and. Yeah I know, at least I was able to be in the actual mecca of yarn.

Inox size 6, 16 inch, circulars. I think I have a pair of these in bamboo by Crystal Palace, in fact I'm sure I do. Shoot. But I wanted to try Inox.
Valley Fibers size 4, 18 inch, circular. Just to try another brand and I don't have that size.
Valley Fibers size 5 DPNs bamboo, that now I can't find anywhere. Double shoot.

2 balls of Classic Elite Bazic superwash wool in colour 2932, boysenberry. I am thinking about making Odessa, without beads with this.
1 ball of Classic Elite Bazic superwash wool in colour 2904, beautiful blue with a touch of teal to it, though apparently they call it "navy"
1 ball of Adrienne Vittadini Fiora in colour 33 for only $2!!!
The above two blues might make another nice hat with the Fiora as the "brim" to show of the sequins.
1 skein of Trekking XXL #76, which was only $11.16 because it's a discontinued colour, which is a shame because it is beautiful! I really think I would wear socks made with these colours, or almost anything. Here it is as an actual sock using the yarn and colour.

For Inspiration:
Interweave Spring 2005 Tempting ideas: A Good Bias, Cable-Eight top, Bi-Color Brioche (omg what a knitter!) and Heads Up Hats.

Interweave Summer 2006 Tempting ideas: Looking Glass Top, Bias Corset (of course this photo give further evidence that this is not meant for women who have curves, though TGF begs to differ), Brioche Bodice, and Eyelet Chemise (who's eyelet patterning I just used on Adrienne's hat, not that you can really see it on that yarn, but just stockinette was gonna bore me). This guy thinks it's Worst of the Worst. He likes the Lotus tank, which I do as well. I just think it would look even worse on me than the Chemise.

Vogue Knitting International Spring/Summer 2005 More tempting ideas: Lace Tunic - though I would make it shorter (ie. not a tunic) and maybe delete the bottom patterning altogether and simply extend the top's design. Like I write that as if I know how to do that? Twinkle is a simple bolero type sweater that is a "very easy, very vogue" pattern which translates as something I can actually make. I think. The Lace Trim Bolero is cute as well. The Short Jacket in a better yarn choice could be nice to have around. I am not sure about the Short Sleeve Top, I can't tell if I like it. There are some nice scarves as well in this issue. The Ruffle Trim Top, I just don't know. I think it's too fussy for me.

But wait there's more! I also stopped in on Northampton Wools (the site's not up yet) as we were strolling around Noho (or 'Hamp to the true natives) on the last day, before beginning our TITATWTH. A really exciting note about that stop was finding their book, no not because it was a must have (though it is decent) but because I know one the models - Tanya Rapinchuk! She's a homebirth midwife that I did two births with back in the day. Being budget conscious, I looked in their basket of $3 specials and found:
1 ball of Rowan Calmer in 472
1 ball of Takhi Bunny in 016, otherwise known as black
1 ball of Jo Sharp Rare Comfort kid mohair in 615, aka Earl Grey.
Best of all? No tax on yarn in Massachusetts! Isn't that awesome news? Okay not to most of my readers, nor really of much import to me since I live in California but still. Imagine, no tax.
I found A Garden Stroll for $7 at Raven books, also. I think Jennie will like to look through this one.

I forgot to mention that before leaving town to travel east I visited Skein Lane once again and stocked up on more random Cascade 220.
1 skein of 7802 - a hot pink, they call it Cerise
1 skein of 7803 - a deeper shade, closer to fushia, they call it Magenta
1 skein of 9464 - a very bright royal purple.
3 skeins of 8509 - a soft light gray

Of course yesterday I could contain myself no longer since I was sent another letter from Skein Lane and I hadn't been in over 3 weeks, so off I went. Everything as of yesterday is 60% off and each day after another 5%. Okay, so everything is not a lot, or at least not a ton of what I want but I did find something to buy.

2 balls of GGH Raffinese - why? because it intrigued me. I have no idea what to do with it! Ah, here's an idea. Cannot find any decent and in english link. Methinks it's a discontinued product. It's 45% cotton, 35% polyethylene and 20% rayon. It's a light steel gray.

1 ball of Maggi Knits Maggi's Linen colour 17. Why? Because I am insane. I have no idea what to do with it, but it was cheap enough for an experiment of knitting with thick thread.

3 skeins of Dalegarn's Svale in lilac (5402) and 9 skeins in mist (5720). Again, for what I have no idea but it's SO soft and lovely. And at 60% off of $5.50 a skein, well a huge bargain to boot.

On the plane I mooned over my issue of Interweave Fall 2006 where I hate the colour of Bianca's Jacket but like the design features. I like the bodice part of Gatsby Girl but this the yoke and neckline would do me no favors. Swallowtail Shawl might be a nice size to tackle for my first lace project. Glaslow Lace is very pretty but shaping at the bottom a bit wide from my taste and my hips. I really like the simple sock pattern in this issue as well.

Okay, it's really time to finish that first mitten and make the second one.

* parody on the book The Web That Has No Weaver

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I love when the universe agrees with me

Your Hidden Talent

Your natural talent is interpersonal relations and dealing with people.
You communicate well and are able to bring disparate groups together.
Your calming presence helps everything go more smoothly.
People crave your praise and complements.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Gilligan's Got Nothing on Me

To say that we had some travails in our travels may be a bit of an understatement.

After many nights of less than ideal sleep, I had even less on that Thursday evening, August 17th, given the stress of getting ready which included packing which is quite the ordeal when one considers that along with 4 laptops (don’t ask), a tent, two sleeping bags, an air mattress and enough clothes to begin to satisfy my inner diva, there was finishing progress notes and a termination report for work, and deciding which school notes and books I would take with me. School work you ask? Yes, I know, but really I set my sights very realistically, but a very different reality presented itself so no school work got done. Where was I? Oh yes, leaving.

We had an early morning flight – 7:30 departure, out of Oakland. The night before I had made reservations with a taxi company (not to name names or anything but... Yellow Taxi Service 510.644.8181) to pick us up at Jennie’s house, where we were leaving one of our cars. After arriving in Alameda, there were numerous calls back and forth with them promising the cab was mere blocks away. Then, I got a call from an unknown number. It was a different taxi company saying that the one I called couldn’t make the pick up and this lady was promising me a car. Promises, schmises. Finally I called this other taxi cab company and said we can’t wait any longer, cancel the cab, we would drive ourselves to the airport. So much for arriving 1.5 hours before our flight to check our four bags.

The next steps went more smoothly except for not being able to reach our friend Adrienne, who had our itinerary, to which she had replied that she should be able to pick us up. In addition, a random border type person had left a car there that we would be able to use to bring ourselves from Western Massachusetts to Maine. Yeah, right. Nice try. Finally upon arriving at Bradley I reach her by phone. “Oh hi! Is that today? I’ve been at DAR State Forest where I don't get a cell phone signal. Mikey and the kids and our family are camping out. There’s no way I can get you. Oh, Keith’s car? He came by and picked it up out of the blue.” Sigh. A rental car is arranged for, which includes getting quoted an outrageous sum but also told if we use the courtesy phone and make reservations we could probably get a better price. Luckily this is true.

The upside of all this, up to this point, is we have a car to use and an empty house to crash in. Crash we do! We brainstorm all sorts of options about transport, and are quoted an enormous sum for a one way drop off with the car we already have through H*rtz. Monday we drive back down to Bradley, rent a different car from National (thanks to Mikey’s tip that they are much more reasonable about one-ways) and return the H*rtz car. Merrily we drive to Maine, confident that we can find someone to lend us a car to drive to Portland the next day (from Poland Spring) to return the car. A lovely newbie to camp, who renamed himself Fox during camp based on a dream where he asked for a spirit name (again, don't ask), lent us a car. While taking care of a million other things, I hop on the National’s website to find directions to their site. The directions seem odd, and conflict with Portland Airport directions. As in no relationship between the directions can be found, but I figure, the company’s own website would know the address. Right? Evidently not. After going around in circles and all around North Portland, I call them where a rude woman answers the phone. She doesn’t apologize for the website mistake but does tell me that it works just fine for her and then suggests that I pull into a gas station to ask for directions to the airport. She and the gas station guy say “You need to get on 295 South and get off at exit 5B.” Have you ever been on a highway, anywhere, where they don’t say it’s an airport exit? Me neither until now. It is not clear AT ALL. By instinct I go in the right direction but am wavering just a bit in confidence given how the morning has gone thus far, so into a packy store I go. Actually I send TGF since I am not sure I can contain myself from setting fire to something or breaking down in tears. At this point I’m really not sure which is more likely.

After a few more circles at the airport itself I find the right place to enter and a nice young woman with one of the little machines prints out a receipt. However there is bit of a problem. The quote for the one day, one-way rental was $92 and here is a receipt for $291! I can’t even see straight by this time. I barge into the counter area and I swear I have never in my entire life gone straight for the jugular on a service person. N-E-V-E-R. “Well you returned it late so there in an additional day charge”. Hello – I called you saying I was totally lost and had been driving around for over an hour trying to find the frigging airport because of your website’s directions! “Please don’t yell mam'm”. I still haven’t even truly raised my voice, but whatever. “Please don’t insult me that way”. I didn’t, I merely threatened to retract the payment on my card and write a letter (which I still need to do). “However I am a representative of the corporation and therefore you are attacking me.” What I wanted to say was “I’m sorry you have such a deficient self-esteem that you can’t separate yourself from the company.” In the end “the best I can do” totaled $100.

So at this point we have had to get our car out of daily parking at the airport (Thank you Ruth and Jennie for coordinating this for us), renting one car for about $200 and another for $100. All money we hadn’t budget for at all.

Fast forward almost two weeks, it’s time to leave camp and I put TGF in charge of finding a rental car to get us from Maine back to Massachusetts (and ultimately the airport). She is getting quote of around $240 and both of us are freaking out. I hop on the computer (computer internet access at camp is a whole other post – no really – that I may leave to TGF to write about) and find a deal for $170 through Alamo, which is also really National. Cue the foreboding music. Why didn’t we hitch a ride with some friends? Did I mention to one very large roller board suitcase that is more than half my height, the next one down being about half my height, an average carry-on roller board, the two duffle bags, and two stuffed backpacks? Another lovely camper drives TGF to the airport to pick up our 3rd rental car of the trip. Third, people!

We are so tired out that we decide to try to find a cheap motel for the night back in the Happy Valley. As much as we adore Adrienne and her family, they are loud and there is a near constant state of chaos there. There goes another $65. We had also hoped a quiet space would allow for some nookie time. But no, we were so exhausted that we fell asleep for about 10 hours!

Because we had no control over when TGF picked up the car we had a drop off time that was way early for our flight. So trying to be good doobies, TGF calls to find out how much they would ding us for dropping off the car 1.5 hours late. The attempts results in her being put on hold and then the call is dropped. She calls back and the woman is rude. “I have people here, you need to hold”. “Well I can tell you right now there will be a charge.” She then clicks TGF on hold without giving her a chance to say, “okay, yes I will hold”. I am furious. I call back, pretending to be TGF and immediately ask for her supervisor. I am put on hold for over 5 minutes, where she comes back on the line saying the supervisor is not available, could she help. “Well since you were just rude to me when I just called a moment ago, I’m not sure.” I explain the situation, albeit a bit tersely as I am at my limit with this crap. She states that it is $15 dollars an hour. “Wow! Kind of excessive, huh. That's some racket you guys have going there”. Yelling, actually yelling at me she says, “You don’t need to berate me. It’s half the day rate for each hour. Do you want the 2 hours or not!” I reply that yes change the drop off time and if by some miracle we show up at 2:30 I expect the additional charge to be removed. Sheesh.

Finally at the airport (after being charged the additional $30) we need to redistribute our belongings to avoid an additional charge for one piece of luggage being over 50lbs. As boarding time comes and goes, there is an announcement that there is a small mechanical issue they need to look into. The flight was supposed to leave at 5:30pm. At about 5:45pm they announce that the mechanic won't be at the gate until 6:30. Apparently they were flying the mechanic in from Cleveland. Did I mention we have a connecting flight? It becomes clear that we will miss our connection but I have hope that there will be one more flight out of Chicago to Oakland. The gods are still laughing.

The only flight they have that evening would deliver us to San Francisco at about 12:30am with no way to get to Alameda Luckily we head over to the gate and speak to a lovely gentleman who listened to our plight of needing to get home sooner rather than later. Obviously we didn’t mention that our refusal of a flight that would deliver us at Oakland at 12:20pm the next day was because of a date to meet Ruth and pick up our beloved Puppyman. After some key strokes, we had a voucher for a hotel (free shuttle to said hotel), and a 6 a.m. departure (it was now about 9:30pm) with a transfer in Denver, which would deliver us to Oakland about 10:10am. The Wyndam Hotel O'Hare afforded us the best bed we had slept on our entire time away. A plus, definitely. We arrive easily but our luggage did not. Paperwork filed, a taxi found, pick up our car at Jennie’s, a quick stop home to see the cats, and off to the Albany Bulb to see Ruth, Piccolo and Wyatt. Afterwards I ride with Ruth up to her home in Kentfield to pick up our other car.

A nap has been had. Pizza was just delivered. Next on the list, appease the Gods of Transportation and Travel.